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  1. #1

    Default The Changing Look of the New Harlem

    NEW YORK TIMES February 10, 2002

    The Changing Look of the New Harlem

    SO the president of the Abyssinian Development Corporation arrives at the Starbucks on 125th Street to meet with the president of the Forest City Ratner Companies before visiting Harlem Center, their joint venture across Malcolm X Boulevard. They are impressed by the pace of construction at the Gap overlooking the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and former Hotel Theresa.

    This is Harlem, 2002.

    Parcel by parcel, uptown is being remade, fueled in part by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and the state's Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund. While it remains to be seen whether the momentum of the late 90's can be sustained amid recession and civic trauma, there are enough projects in the pipeline to guarantee, for now, that the transformation will continue.

    "This gives people an opportunity to shop in their own neighborhoods and it generates jobs and opportunities for more revenue to come back into the community," said C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president. "That's not a bad thing."

    The change is not to everyone's liking, however, by any means. Tensions can be keen when racial and ethnic differences are added to the issues inherent in redeveloping any well-established enclave: the economic alienation and displacement of longtime businesses and residents, the tilt of power from community groups to large corporations and the loss or alteration of beloved landmarks. Complicating matters is the frustration felt by local entrepreneurs who sustained Harlem during its leanest years and now watch government subsidies flow to outside developers and businesses.

    "The people who are benefiting the most are those who got here last and who have the least need," said Councilman Bill Perkins, who represents central Harlem. "There's a growing, small entrepreneurial movement that is screaming about the unaffordability of commercial spaces. This we hear loudly in Harlem."

    But for better or worse — or both — the die seems to have been cast. On its key commercial thoroughfares, at least, uptown is looking more and more like the rest of Manhattan.

    Harlem may even be getting its first major national corporate headquarters with the planned arrival of Edison Schools Inc. at Duke Ellington Circle, in an office building alongside a new Museum for African Art.

    This is not the only cultural complex being planned. The Apollo Theater at 253 West 125th Street may create a performing arts center that encompasses the neighboring Victoria Theater. Meanwhile, it has closed for two months in the first phase of a $50 million renovation.

    Across 125th Street from the renovated Studio Museum in Harlem, Harlem Center is now a 540,000-cubic-foot concrete basin — think six Olympic-sized pools — from which the steel framework of a three-story structure is soon to emerge. It will house a 57,000-square-foot Marshalls department store, CVS store and Washington Mutual bank branch.

    Citarella is planning to open a store on West 125th Street by year- end and move its food preparation center to the former Taystee Cake Bakery on West 126th Street, said its owner, Joseph R. Gurrera.

    At the bustling intersection of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, where the Pathmark supermarket draws crowds, the three-story, 39,000-square-foot Gateway Building is nearing completion, with Duane Reade as its first tenant and Seaman's Furniture to come. The developers are Nina DeMartini-Day, Terrence Moan and Michael Dirzulaitis.

    Across 125th Street from Pathmark, columns and beams frame the three-story, 90,000-square-foot, $24 million Gotham Plaza by the Blumenfeld Development Group. It will open this summer, David Blumenfeld said, with Fleet Bank, Children's Place, Payless ShoeSource, Petland Discounts and Rockaway Bedding Centers. Further into the future, Blumenfeld would also develop the East River Plaza retail project at the former Washburn Wire Factory.

    In the three blocks between Second and Third Avenue, 125th and 128th Streets, the Potamkin Auto Group is planning a mall of automobile dealerships, and Grid Properties and the Gotham Organization are planning Uptown N.Y., an urban version of the Woodbury Commons outlet center.

    Grid and Gotham were the developers, with the Commonwealth Local Development Corporation, of the Harlem U.S.A. retail center on West 125th Street, where the Hue-Man Bookstore is to open in April. Specializing in African-American subjects, it will stock at least 10,000 titles and "house the culture" of Harlem, said Clara Villarosa, who will run the 4,000-square-foot store with Celeste Johnson and Rita Ewing.

    Drew Greenwald, president of Grid Properties, recalled the skepticism that greeted plans for Harlem U.S.A. six years ago. "Everybody said, `It can't work,' " he said. These days, he said, "Most of the projects that have a ribbon cutting tend to happen."

    Ground may be broken by the end of the year at Duke Ellington Circle, overlooking the Harlem Meer in Central Park, for a $125 million, 220,000-square-foot cultural and corporate complex to be developed by the Hines real estate company of Houston.

    Edison Schools is to move its headquarters there from 521 Fifth Avenue, at 43rd Street, and the Museum for African Art is to move from 593 Broadway, near Houston Street. There is also to be a 650-seat, tuition- free public elementary school managed by Edison. The noteworthy design team includes Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates for the office and school; Bernard Tschumi for the museum; and Gruzen Samton as coordinating architects and planners.

    "Architecturally, we're going to come out with a terrific project," said Councilman Philip Reed, whose district includes the site. "The community is going to be supportive of the school and we're going to bring 400 corporate jobs into the community."

    VISITORS to the museum and headquarters can be expected to spend at least $2 million a year at nearby restaurants, shops and businesses, said a study by Allee King Rosen & Fleming. The 542 employees at the complex are expected to spend $1 million annually at local establishments.

    The complex would occupy five empty lots between 109th Street and 110th Street, renamed Tito Puente Way to honor the legendary band leader. Edison owns the largest lot, on Fifth Avenue, where the 60,000-square-foot museum would be built.

    Edison and the museum are negotiating the acquisition through the Economic Development Corporation of four city-owned lots on which a 160,000-square-foot school and office building would rise. It would be about 14 stories, roughly half the height of the nearby Schomburg Plaza. The City Council approved a rezoning in December that would permit offices on the site.

    "We felt very strongly that we wanted our headquarters to be in the same community we serve," said Valerie Corbett, an Edison vice president and the project director. The company estimates that 60 percent of its school staff and 80 percent of its students are African-American and Latino.

    Sitting at the junction of black and Hispanic Harlem, at the farthest reach of Museum Mile, the site suited the museum's vision of "building a bridge between communities," said Anne Stark, the deputy director. As the museum searched in 1999 for alternatives to its rented space in SoHo, it came upon the block that Edison had been looking at for its headquarters and school. They agreed to proceed together.

    The midblock building will be split into two condominiums. Hines will own the 85,000 square feet of office space and lease it to Edison. The 75,000-square-foot school will be owned by a not-for-profit company. The museum will own its home on Fifth Avenue, which will permit it to build up its permanent collection, double its gallery space and quadruple the educational space.

    Another ambitious cultural project that is now taking shape is an Apollo performing arts center that might encompass the Victoria Theater, 233 West 125th Street, whose auditorium is only 15 feet apart from the Apollo on the 126th Street side.

    "We'd certainly be in favor of any kind of expansion of the activities of the Apollo into the Victoria Theater," said Charles A. Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, who said the matter was under negotiation. The state owns both the Victoria and the Apollo, which it has leased to the Apollo Theater Foundation for 99 years. One possibility, Mr. Gargano said, is a 3,000-seat theater on the Victoria site.

    Foundation executives said it was premature to talk about reconstruction, demolition, restoration or even acquisition of the Victoria. They focused instead on the renovation of the 1,483-seat Apollo itself, by Davis Brody Bond and Beyer Blinder Belle.

    "We've thought long and hard about the best way of holding on to the historical richness of the theater while at the same time bringing it current," said Derek Q. Johnson, president of the foundation. The renovation is to occur in phases; staged so that the performance schedule is not disrupted unduly and also, Mr. Johnson said, "to allow our financial power to meet our real estate aspirations."

    Apollo executives see their project in terms of the overall vitality of 125th Street. "The issue is how you keep it busy after 6 or 7 o'clock at night," said David D. Rodriguez, executive director of the foundation. "The key answer is to have a vibrant Apollo."

    In the first phase of the renovation, to be completed in October at a cost of about $12 million, the great yellow-and-red blade sign out front will be rehabilitated, the marquee will be updated with light-emitting diodes, the terra cotta facade will be restored, the roof will be repaired, seats will be fixed and carpeting replaced, power capacity will be increased, computer-assisted moving lights will be added and new dimmers, speakers and audio mixing consoles will be installed.

    The second phase, costing about $38 million, is to begin next year. It will include the restoration of architectural details and ornament in the auditorium and the construction of a new lobby and gift shop. Seats will be replaced, dressing rooms renovated and restrooms increased. Fiber-optic lines will be extended inconspicuously throughout the theater. All three levels will be made accessible to the disabled.

    It is the uncharted phase, involving the 84- year-old Victoria Theater, that concerns Michael Henry Adams, author of the forthcoming "Harlem Lost and Found, An Architectural and Social History: 1765-1915."

    Designed by the celebrated theater architect Thomas W. Lamb, the Victoria facade is ornamented with Ionic columns, anthemion leaves, lions' heads, rosettes and rhytons — horn-shaped cups with animal heads. The Victoria is not a landmark but has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Mr. Adams said. "It is the most architecturally distinguished theater to survive in central Harlem," he said. "It shouldn't be necessary to destroy what is special and unique about Harlem."

    One local landmark that has been brought back from near ruin is the former school and convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church at 445 East 115th Street, once the heart of Italian Harlem, which is being rebuilt as the National Museum of Catholic Art and History.

    Dedicated in its own words to promoting "an awareness and appreciation of Catholic art in all its facets," the museum also plans an exhibition on the rich social history of East Harlem as one of its first shows. Although the private museum is a tenant of a parish church, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York emphasized that "there is no other relationship of any sort between the archdiocese and the museum."

    The $8 million, cellar-to-attic renovation is well along, with new windows, walls, lighting, elevator and cooling equipment all in evidence. Most of the dozen galleries are nearing completion. Another $1.5 million is needed to complete the work, said Edward J. Malloy, chairman of the museum board and president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "I feel comfortable that we'll get it done," he said. "A May opening is realistic."

    Arthur Rosenblatt, former vice president for architecture and planning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is working on the Catholic museum with his colleagues at RKK&G Museum and Cultural Facilities Consultants. "This is not a token effort," he said. "It's a first-class, fully developed museum that's almost real. But like all early efforts, they're spare."

    The National Museum of Jazz in Harlem is so spare that it is, so far, nonexistent. But Leonard Garment, the president, said the museum will soon appoint a new executive director, who will hire a staff and begin to address the question of what — and where in Harlem — the museum should be.

    Among jazz clubs, the "Hottest Spot in Harlem" was Smalls' Paradise. While the Paradise itself is lost, its three-story building still stands at 135th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue). The Abyssinian Development Corporation plans to renovate and expand the building by three floors into the Thurgood Marshall Academy, with an International House of Pancakes at the base. Construction may start next month, said Karen A. Phillips, president and chief executive of the nonprofit development corporation begun by the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

    The facade, distinguished by yellow-brick buttresses and Gothic finials, will be restored. There will be lobby displays about Smalls' and the Apex beauty school, another celebrated tenant, and about Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court, who lived in Harlem. The architects of the $40 million project are Gruzen Samton.

    BERTRAND MILES, a retired television cameraman and former Smalls' patron, has waged a quixotic battle to reopen it as a nightclub. Ms. Phillips said that was unavailing. "The community thinks that if you open the door, it would still be there," she said, "but it's been gone for years. We talked to so many restaurateurs and jazz club operators. But to get those financed in an inner-city area is difficult."

    Citibank is financing the restaurant and the Board of Education is financing the school, which is to have up to 700 students.

    The Bank of New York has made a $27.5 million construction loan to Harlem Center, at what was once to have been the site of the Harlem International Trade Center. After that project was scuttled, Abyssinian approached Forest City Ratner about responding to a request for proposals.

    Bruce C. Ratner, president and chief executive of Forest City Ratner, said his company — which is known for building commercial projects in developing neighborhoods — had been approached many times to undertake something in Harlem.

    "I'd always been hesitant," he said, "because it's very political in Harlem. There are a lot of different interests."

    In this case, he said, Forest City Ratner was persuaded by the participation of Abyssinian and the commitment of state officials, especially Randy A. Daniels, who is now the New York secretary of state.

    The project is divided into two parcels and phases. The 23,000-square-foot Gap is on the midblock parcel. On the corner is a 120,000-square-foot retail building. If a tenant can be signed, an office tower of about 150,000 square feet will rise above that. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates are the architects for both phases; associated with the Ives Group on the $38 million first phase and with HLW International on the second, which could run to $40 million.

    Ground-floor rents at Harlem Center and Harlem U.S.A. are $80 to $100 a square foot annually, a sign that 125th Street generally has escalated beyond what many Harlem businesses can afford. Borough President Fields said that has prompted efforts to strengthen other commercial corridors along 116th Street, 145th Street, Powell and Douglass Boulevards.

    Cater-corner from the Masjid Malcolm Shabazz at 116th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, the mosque at which Malcolm himself ministered, Renaissance Plaza has a mix of national and local tenants: Carver Federal Savings Bank, CVS, a Pioneer supermarket, Mail Boxes Etc., Ashley Stewart clothing store and Petland Discounts, as well as a money-transfer office, beauty supply shop and Christian bookstore. A restaurant, Five Loaves and Two Fish, and a fast- food court are to open this year.

    These stores occupy the base of a new 241- unit co-op apartment building developed by Jeffrey E. Levine and Stuart Match Suna. The mosque served as community sponsor.

    Not everything happens on such a large scale. At 116th Street and Madison Avenue sits a vacant bank, forlorn but quite noble, with an arcade of stout Doric columns.

    Carl S. Redding, the proprietor and chef of the popular Amy Ruth's restaurant, 113 West 116th Street, said he had entered into a long-term lease on the Madison Avenue building. He envisions it as a 300-seat seafood restaurant, Noah's Ark, where culinary training would also be offered. Jack Travis Architect would be the interior designer.

    The project needs $5 million to become a reality, but Mr. Redding sounded confident. "Harlem needs what I'm trying to put together," he said. "We're ready for it."

  2. #2

    Default The Changing Look of the New Harlem

    Here some pictures of the projects mentioned in the article.

    See also Apollo Theater thread

    Across 125th Street from the renovated Studio Museum in Harlem, Harlem Center is now a 540,000-cubic-foot concrete basin — think six Olympic-sized pools — from which the steel framework of a three-story structure is soon to emerge. It will house a 57,000-square-foot Marshalls department store, CVS store and Washington Mutual bank branch.

    The 23,000-square-foot Gap is on the midblock parcel overlooking the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and former Hotel Theresa.

    Across 125th Street from Pathmark, columns and beams frame the three-story, 90,000-square-foot, $24 million Gotham Plaza by the Blumenfeld Development Group. It will open this summer, David Blumenfeld said, with Fleet Bank, Children's Place, Payless ShoeSource, Petland Discounts and Rockaway Bedding Centers.

  3. #3

    Default The Changing Look of the New Harlem

    October 2, 2002
    Home for a Swedish Clothing Retailer

    Some rapidly expanding retailers like to cite stacks of market research before deciding where to open stores, but not Hennes & Mauritz, the huge Swedish clothing retailer whose fashionable but value-conscious customers usually refer to it as H&M.

    Thanks in part to items like faux-shearling jackets and one-shouldered angora sweaters, H&M already operates close to 850 stores in 14 countries. In the New York area, the company has opened 30 stores in the two and a half years since it arrived in this country.

    When it comes to deciding where to open stores, said Kjell Berggren, director of real estate for the company's American operations, H&M is a company that usually bypasses "big investigations" in favor of simply counting the number of shopping bags on a particular street.

    According to Mr. Berggren, H&M decided to open its latest store, at 125 West 125th Street, mostly because of the large number of shopping bags that company executives kept spotting in the area.

    H&M's Harlem store is the first retail outlet to open so far at Harlem Center, the 300,000-square-foot retail and office complex being developed by Forest City Ratner. According to James S. Downey, director of national retail accounts at Cushman & Wakefield, his brokerage firm first asked H&M to consider opening a Harlem store last fall, but then spent almost half a year trying to come up with a location that had the right kind of visibility.

    Eventually, the hunt led to a new two-story 23,000-square-foot building that had a wide glass front and sat prominently next to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building. While a lease was already out for the empty building to house a Gap store eventually, according to Mr. Downey, Gap never signed the lease because the company was scaling back its expansion efforts at the time.

    Layle Gregory, the manager of H&M's Harlem store, said business had been "consistent" since the store opened on Sept. 6. "Every morning before we open, we have 5 to 10 people waiting in line to get in," Ms. Gregory said, adding that top sellers have included items like a $39 tan sweater dress.

    So far, H&M's largest stores in the United States have been in New York City. Over the next two months, the company plans to open stores on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia and at Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island. In 2004, a store is to open on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, between 58th and 59th Streets.

    On the first of November, H&M plans to open another store in the Herald Square area. The company already has a 40,000-square-foot store at 34th Street and Sixth Avenue, but it plans to open a store of similar size at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.

    Mr. Berggren said that his company did not deliberately try to place stores close together, but that it often ended up doing just that on certain highly trafficked streets. In Berlin, he said, H&M now has 22 stores, with some streets playing host to three or four stores.

    In the United States, he said, H&M expects to open 15 to 20 stores a year over the next few years, with plans to crack both the Virginia and Washington retail markets next. Mr. Berggren acknowledged that his company had been criticized by some investors for expanding too quickly in the United States. But he said that H&M had responded to the criticism by moderating its expansion plans and that the company had not had to close any stores in the United States, as it has done in some other countries.

    "We're all about volume," said Joakim Gip, the company's United States marketing director, "and to reach volume in the United States, we need many, many stores."

    In opening a store on 125th street, H&M executives said that they were responding to a natural opportunity in be in a part of New York that has heavy pedestrian traffic and is also an area where more than 20 national or regional retailers have settled over the last two years. Those retailers now include Old Navy, Staples, the Disney Store and Marshalls, which opened a 57,000-square-foot store on the same side of the block as H&M a week ago.

    Mr. Berggren declined to specify what H&M was paying in rent at the Harlem store, but he did say the rent was "not a bargain."

    Benjamin Fox, an executive vice president at Newmark New Spectrum Retail, a retail brokerage and services firm, said that while prices for retail space along 125th Street were no longer rising, space on the street generally goes for at least $60 a square foot a year, and sometimes as much as $150 a square foot.

    "Three years go," said Mr. Fox, whose firm is the leasing agent for Harlem U.S.A., a 275,000-square-foot retail and entertainment project that is also on West 125th Street, "you were looking at rents that were half that."

  4. #4

    Default The Changing Look of the New Harlem

    The construction of Harlem Center is underway on Malcolm X Blvd and 125th Street. 18 January 2003.

  5. #5


    I should fax this to Amanda & city planning.


  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Looks like they took a big lawn mower to Central Park

    The new uptown looks good from afar.

  7. #7


    i recognize most of those buildings, but what is the one that's taller than the burj dubai?

  8. #8


    It's the Al Burj tower in Dubai. It's like more than 3 times the height of the ESB at 1600 meters.

    I think Dubai has 30+ planned buildings over 1,000 feet.

    I sometimes wish we could be more spontaneous like Dubai. Midtown was once a fairly low-rise neighborhood and world's tallest buildings suddenly towered over them. Why can't the city allow this to happen in our more decrepit areas...not Harlem...and not anything looking like the pic i posted above.
    Last edited by Derek2k3; March 19th, 2007 at 12:18 PM.

  9. #9
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Manhattan - UWS


    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
    I should fax this to Amanda & city planning.

    LOL! Yes send it.

  10. #10


    Where's the Ryugyong Hotel?

  11. #11


    Out of the picture in Astoria.

  12. #12
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    More People, More Stuff to Buy

    LUXURY CONDOS The Langston, at Bradhurst Avenue in Harlem Heights, will also include retail space.

    Published: March 25, 2007

    THE arrival this summer of a Starbucks and a New York Sports Clubs fitness center will round off the amenities in a condominium that its creators are heralding as the first luxury doorman building to open its doors in Harlem Heights. In a neighborhood best known for restored brownstones, the 10-story 180-unit structure makes its presence felt.

    Called the Langston, after the poet Langston Hughes, the building at 68 Bradhurst Avenue between 145th and 146th Streets will have a doorman, valet service, valet parking and 24-hour concierge service when the first residents start to move in this spring.

    There is still one more 14,000-square-foot retail space to fill, and David Picket, president of the Gotham Organization, which built the Langston in partnership with the Richman Group, says he is hoping to get a home-furnishings-related chain to take the space.

    “Something like a Janovic Plaza or a Door Store,” said Mr. Picket, whose company was the developer of the successful Harlem USA complex on 125th Street.

    The Starbucks and the sports club are the latest in a series of newcomers bringing services to an area whose residential population is growing in number and economic clout. A Duane Reade store and a Pathmark supermarket have come into the mix on West 145th Street, the main commercial drag serving the area.

    Banks that have opened include Chase, Washington Mutual and Carver Federal Savings Bank, with a Bank of America branch being added this summer. Small restaurants and art galleries like the Sugarhill Java & Tea Lounge on West 145th Street and the Simmons Gallery on Edgecombe Avenue are two of a number of independently owned businesses also popping up in response to the increased population.

    The fitness center in the Langston will measure 16,000 square feet, which is small for the chain. But John Epifanio, development manager for Town Sports International, parent company of New York Sports Clubs, believes the neighborhood has turned a corner. According to Mr. Epifanio, the company moves only into areas that it thinks will come around in a few years, and this part of Harlem is already almost there.

    “We are hitting it pretty close to being right,” he said.

    The Langston is the third new residential building in the immediate neighborhood in two years. At 145th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the Bradhurst Carriage House Lofts, with eight condominiums priced from $890,000 to $1.295 million, went on the market last spring, and in 2005 the Related Companies completed a 128-unit subsidized building at 300 West 145th Street that is fully occupied. Three years before that, the Gotham Organization and the Richman Group opened the Hamilton, 77 units of moderate-income housing opposite the Langston on Bradhurst Avenue.

    The Langston has 180 two- and three-bedroom apartments, each with two baths, and 13 three-bedroom, two-bath duplex penthouses with 1,165 square feet of terrace. Two-thirds of its units were reserved for qualifying moderate-income buyers when they went on the market last summer, and all of those have been sold.

    According to Mr. Picket of the Gotham Organization, the 30 units still available include a two-bedroom unit for $630,000 and a penthouse listed at $995,000. It has views of Yankee Stadium.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  13. #13


    Harlem Journal

    Mixed Feelings as Change Overtakes 125th St.

    Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
    Settepani, a restaurant on Lenox Avenue and 120th Street in Harlem, is typical of newer businesses that cater to an influx of new residents.

    Published: June 13, 2008

    It isn’t news that just two or three years ago, Harlem had a paucity of bank branches, grocery stores and other basic amenities, or that now that more affluent people have started to move there, upscale shops and restaurants have followed.

    But change can have surprising results. While welcoming safer, cleaner streets, longtime residents have found themselves juggling conflicting emotions. And those who enjoyed a measure of stability in the old Harlem now long for the past — not necessarily because it was better but because it was what they knew.

    “The majority of the stores, the 99-cent stores, they’re gone,” said Gwen Walker, 55, a longtime resident of the General Grant Houses in West Harlem, giving one view. “The Laundromat on the corner is gone. The bodegas are gone. There’s large delis now. What had been two for $1 is now one for $3. My neighbor is a beer drinker, and he drinks inexpensive beer, Old English or Colt 45 or Coors — you can’t even buy that in the stores. The stores have imported beers from Germany. The foods being sold — feta cheese instead of sharp Cheddar cheese. That’s a whole other world.”

    Gentrification, it turns out, can have an odd psychological effect on those it occurs around. No one — almost no one — is wishing for a return of row upon row of boarded-up buildings or the summer mornings when lifeless bodies turned up in vestibules, or the evenings when every block seemed to have its own band of drug dealers and subordinate crackheads.

    But residents say they do miss having a neighborhood with familiar faces to greet, familiar foods to eat, and no fear of being forced out of their homes.

    It was Dr. Mindy Fullilove, a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University, who called the feeling “root shock” because, she said, its effects are similar to what happens to uprooted plants. She describes it as “the pain of losing one’s beloved neighborhood.”

    The psychological hold Harlem has on African-Americans has endured even as the neighborhood’s devolution became so complete that between about 1960 and 1990, Harlem had lost a third of its population and half of its housing stock.

    In 1990, during the height of the crack epidemic, 261 people were murdered in the police precincts that cover Harlem. Last year, there were about 500 murders in the entire city.

    Those who stayed during the worst years say they developed an even stronger psychological attachment to Harlem, its flaws not unlike their own. The perceived diminution of that neighborhood, caused in part by an influx of middle class people of all races, can feel like a loss of self, they say.

    Ms. Walker, who has lived in the sprawling General Grant Houses, a public housing complex, on and off since the 1950s, said she often sat talking with her neighbors about their changing surroundings, wondering whether any of them will be there in three to five years.

    She said they speculated that by then, they will have been relocated to “a rural area in the Bronx” — even though a city housing project would seem to be safe from gentrification. “Change is good, and progress is inevitable,” she said. “But the feeling is, ‘What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?’”

    During the past several months, Harlem residents have sought to slow the pace of change via lawsuits, protests, calls for economic boycotts, public denunciations of elected officials and town-hall-style meetings with names like “The State of Black Harlem.” A large march and rally that organizers say will be “against displacement and gentrification” is scheduled for the neighborhood on June 21.

    Apprehension about gentrification has become a constant, and is now a common theme at Sunday church services and a standard topic of conversation in barber shops and beauty salons, on street corners, in bars, at public housing community rooms and among the doormen of the neighborhood’s new condominium buildings. This spring, there have been as many as three or four community meetings each week in which gentrification has been discussed — and roundly denounced.

    Social service organizations in the neighborhood said that they have noted an uptick in clients complaining about insomnia and hypertension related to fears about losing their homes, even when there is no indication that they will be evicted.

    To be sure, these emotions can be expressed in terms that sound extreme. An example came after street shootings wounded eight young people in the neighborhood on Memorial Day.

    “I was praying something like this would happen to keep them out,” Calvin Hunt, 45, a longtime resident with a drastic view, said of the newcomers the morning after the shootings. “When crack was happening, you could have bought these brownstones for $1. Now they cost $1 million.”

    Then, last month, the City Council approved another significant change: the rezoning of 125th Street, Harlem’s central artery, to allow for high-rise office towers and some 2,100 new market-rate condominiums. About 70 small businesses might be closed and some residents displaced.

    In East Harlem, East River Plaza, a $300 million shopping mall anchored by Home Depot, is being built on the site of a long-abandoned wire factory.

    Two blocks away, glass-walled $1 million condominiums are rising next to six-story tenement buildings.

    Earlier this year, the average price for new condominium apartments in Harlem hit $900,000, although average household income remains less than $25,000.

    The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, senior pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church, one of Harlem’s oldest black churches, said that people feel powerless when they see change that they believe is not intended to benefit them.

    “There are great developments going on,” said Pastor Curtis. “You can see things in your sight, but they’re just out of reach.”

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  14. #14
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Some people are truly insane.

  15. #15
    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
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    New York City


    Aloft Harlem

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