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Thread: Harlem Renaissance

  1. #151


    Thanks for the correction. There apparently is an exact address of "524 Manhattan Ave" in the Manhattanville section near Harlem. I reposted the article in the Williamsburg Residential Development thread.

  2. #152

    Default East Harlem Merchants File Lawsuit against Eminent Domain

    East 125th Street Development Plan opposed by the EHARM
    "East Harlem Alliance of Responsible Merchants"

  3. #153

    Arrow Harlem Renaissance

    Other news in the east harlem area; also related to the Columbia U campus project.

  4. #154


    March 30, 2009, 5:31 pm

    Jazz Museum and Cinema Chosen for Harlem Site

    By Sewell Chan

    Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times
    The city solicited ideas from arts organizations on how to use the Mart 125 building, an indoor marketplace at 260-262 West 125th Street that has been abandoned and shuttered for nearly a decade.

    Two nonprofit arts groups, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and ImageNation, which supports independent cinema and progressive music, were selected on Monday to be part of the proposed Mart 125 redevelopment project, which would transform a centrally located but presently abandoned eyesore on Harlem’s main commercial thoroughfare into a mixed-use space.

    But for the project to move forward, it must be able to attract interest from developers, which could be a questionable proposition given the economic downturn that has stagnated the real estate market.

    Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said the inclusion of the two cultural groups “will help to ensure the future of 125th Street as a premier arts, cultural and entertainment destination, as well as a center of economic development.”

    Mr. Pinksy’s agency worked with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone to select the jazz museum and ImageNation.

    The jazz museum has an office on East 126th Street and has announced plans to raise money to occupy 10,150 square feet in the long-vacant Victoria Theater on 125th Street. ImageNation, established in 1997 to support progressive film and music for black and Latino people, is raising money for a Soul Cinema that would be a space for such works.

    If the project gets off the ground, it could be a major step in the transformation of 125th Street.

    Timothy Williams reported in The Times last September:
    When Mart 125 opened in 1986, the state rented stalls to street vendors and pledged to provide them with management training. The goal was for the market to operate as a small-business incubator, with budding entrepreneurs eventually starting their own stores in the neighborhood and perhaps even owning a stake in Mart 125.

    The training never took place, however, and before long, the building began to deteriorate. Not enough customers followed the merchants inside, and vendors struggled to pay the rent, with many refusing to do so to protest the building’s leaky roof and faulty air-conditioning system. Finally, the Giuliani administration evicted the vendors, leaving the building empty since about 2001.
    Under the city’s plans, the jazz museum would use up to 10,000 square feet for a listening library and for performance, exhibition and office space, while ImageNation would create a theater of up to 2,000 square feet.
    Arthur H. Barnes, chairman of the board of the jazz museum, said in a statement:
    We are honored to be part of such a historic moment in the development of 125th Street. And it only redoubles our years-long effort to bring a museum worthy of both the music and the community to Harlem. Now everyone will have even more of a reason to “Take the A Train” to a corridor that contains both the historic Apollo Theater and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
    Moikgantsi Kgama, founder of ImageNation, said in a statement:
    This designation is an incredible boon to our campaign to open the ImageNation Soul Cinema, Harlem’s first and the nation’s only art-house movie theater dedicated to Black and Latino films. We thank EDC, DCA and UMEZ for helping us bring this goal to fruition.

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

  5. #155

    Default East harlem alliance of responsible merchants “eharm”

    '”Slumlord of East Harlem” to use its powers of Eminent Domain to create blight; EHARM to fight NYC’s Determination and Findings’

    (New York, NY – June 23, 2009) – Today, the City of New York concluded (see attached) that HPD will use its powers of Eminent Domain against the alliance of responsible merchants of East Harlem (“EHARM”) to forcefully “take” their properties from East 125th to East 127th Streets from Second to Third Avenues that it determines to be blighted when it caused the blighting.

    - The City of New York has circumvented the will of the people and chosen an alternate route because it could not get approval from the elected officials of Harlem or Manhattan Community Board 11.
    - The City of New York is stealing from the poor to give to the rich – these property owner/operators have been an integral part of East Harlem for decades.
    - The City of New York has no concretviable plan, having handpicked because its chosen developers who are bankrupt or on the verge of bankruptcy, resulting in more blighting.
    - The City of New York is the single largest landowner from 125th to 127th Streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and yet the only investment they have been willing to make (since the 1970’s) in what they call a blighted neighborhood is take our properties for a song and hand them to developers.

    EHARM will challenge these Determinations and Findings in Court, and will continue to use all legal means to fight against the illegal taking of private property.

    “Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse stands united with EHARM in trying to strike down the practice of eminent domain for private gain. For too long the City and State of New York have abused their power of eminent domain. Forty-four states have passed laws limiting eminent domain since the infamous Kelo decision - why not New York? Mayor Bloomberg in his re-election ads says he is fighting to help small businesses stay in the City, so why is he stealing our land and putting us out of business? Developers and unions blackmail our elected officials with contributions and threats and this needs to stop now. They know what the right thing to do is. We ask all elected officials to take a stand and say enough is enough!” said Jerry Antonacci, President of Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse.

    "If the City really wanted to do development in East Harlem, all they had to do was maintain the properties that they own here. Instead, they treated this place with neglect for the past forty years. Now they want to use their own neglect as a justification for deploying eminent domain against the business owners who’ve held the
    neighborhood together for decades? The hypocrisy of Mayor Bloomberg and the City is amazing," said NYC Council Member Tony Avella who has announced his candidacy to be the Democratic challenger for Mayor.

    Ms. Carolee Fink, Senior Project Manager of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, was caught in a conflicted position as she presided at the Hearing, which was conducted on April 20th, 2009, as she was soon the only City official in the room, even though HPD was “technically” the Agency of Record in the proceedings. The first thing that the the City did City did was submit a host of documents that have already been approved by the City Planning Commission, the City Council and the Mayor’s office, including the Amended Urban Renewal Plan, the Final Environmental Impact Statement and a 2008 Blight Study.

    EHARM’s attorney, Brian Nugent, attended the meeting and correctly pointed out that the public hearing was a sham at which time the HPD officials departed. So why did the City through the efforts of Ms. Fink hold this hearing and make these Findings and Determinations? Not because they cared what the Public thought or because they wanted to review any public purpose or environmental impact. All that has already been signed, sealed and delivered by the Cityy and Ms. Fink. The real reason for the hearing was to:
    (1) Give the City and Ms. Fink more time to acquire the private properties in the E125 Project Area. By having this duplicative and unnecessary hearing, the City gets to re-start the three-year clock to acquire the properties.
    (2) A second reason for the sham hearing was for the City and Ms. Fink to have an opportunity to try and correct, at least on paper, the deficiencies that EHARM identified in its legal papers when EHARM filed an Article 78 proceeding in December challenging the actions of New York City. Now, armed with EHARM’s allegations, the City and Ms. Fink can try to dance around their problems by issuing the new determination and findings.

    The City and Ms. Fink submitted a 2008 Blight Study to support the finding of blight in the Harlem-East Harlem Urban Renewal area, and specifically in the E125 Project site area. The Blight Study did not identify the property owners, but merely laid out each lot and the conditions observed on each. EHARM’s Attorney Mr. Nugent reviewed each lot in the proposed E125 Project area and cross-referenced it with the property ownership records and he found that one property owner was responsible for the majority of the so-called “blight” in East Harlem. Essentially, he identified a “Slum Lord of East Harlem.”
    This single property owner has been the owner of these properties for over 30 years and had over 24 critical conditions on its properties, including graffiti, litter, broken fences, broken sidewalks, deteriorating surface conditions. Mr. Nugent discovered that the “Slum Lord of East Harlem” is the City of New York.
    What the City of New York and Ms. Fink has done in East Harlem is an absolute disgrace, as they have compounded this lack of respect for the quality of life of residents and property owners rights once again in both Atlantic Yards and Willets Point respectively. By their own admission via their Blight Study, the City and Ms. Fink havhase neglected its properties for decades, allowing unsightly litter, graffiti, broken fences, and broken sidewalks to fester on city-owned properties. Then, after neglecting their own property and neglecting the people and merchants of East Harlem, Atlantic Yards and Willets Point for decades, the City, through and Ms. Fink, comes back and now tells the hard-working merchants and business owners who have maintained their private properties and stayed the course in East Harlem, Atlantic Yards and Willets Point that New York City needs to take those well-kept private properties.
    Why does New York City need to take them? Because the City and Ms. Fink hasve done a Blight Study that shows that the City-owned properties around these viable businesses are covered with litter, graffiti and other unsightly conditions!
    In other words, the City has manufactured and maintained blight in East Harlem over four decades, so that the City and Ms. Fink could come back in 2009 to forcibly take our property, our neighborhood, our businesses and a piece of our community and hand it over to a private developer so that everyone reaps the benefits from East Harlem, except of course, the very people that live here, work here and call Harlem their home.

  6. #156


    LOL, landlords trying to rip off city taxpayers and waste the resources of the courts.

    And, of course, a quote from Tony Avella, the worst Councilperson is existence. Thankfully, his district hates him and he is retiring.

  7. #157
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    On a Harlem Block, Boarded-Up Buildings and a Changing Mood


    Craig Charie paid $750,000 for a brownstone he had hoped to resell for for as much as $1.6 million. It is for sale for $599,000.

    Of all the New York City neighborhoods swept up in the real estate boom of the last decade, few became as hot as Harlem. It grew increasingly gentrified and integrated. Its economy developed a lively pulse, and its town homes — stately, historic, but often neglected — fetched prices unheard-of for the area.

    But that sense of electricity and evolution, which thrilled some residents and troubled others, has been unplugged. And a single block — West 134th Street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard — offers a vivid illustration of just how cool the market and the mood have turned.

    On that block, developers have been trying to figure out what to do with at least four town houses they bought during the boom. Two years ago, the developers planned to renovate the homes and resell them for more than $1 million apiece. But they are leaving them boarded up, letting them fall into foreclosure or selling them, in one case for less than $600,000.

    Craig Charie, who is trying to sell an unfinished brownstone at 221 West 134th Street, said he had contemplated chopping up the home, which belonged to a Harlem family for nearly 90 years, and renting it out to Columbia University students.

    “It’s not my first choice,” Mr. Charie said. “It’s a beautiful place.”

    His appreciation for the potential of the homes is shared by the affluent blacks and whites, families and young artists who have settled in the neighborhood in recent years. And many say they are confident that Harlem will recover its real estate dynamism — that the transformation in the last 10 years has amounted to more than just rising home values. The shopping districts and redevelopment projects that have emerged, they say, constitute a durable set of changes.

    Some see a benefit to the market’s cooling, saying it will allow a greater opportunity for residents, new and old, to work together to restore some of the neighborhood feel that had been lost through gentrification.

    Still, for many involved in Harlem’s remaking — real estate agents, bankers, shop owners, new residents — the swing in real estate fortunes has been breathtaking.

    From 2004 to 2007, according to, a real estate Web site, the median sale price for the area’s town houses jumped by about 150 percent, to $1.4 million from $554,250. By contrast, the price on the Upper East Side rose by 38 percent. And the volume of sales of town homes in Harlem far outpaced that of any other neighborhood.

    “They became highly sought after,” said Jonathan Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, an appraisal firm, “because of the prices that were being seen to the south, and that people found they could get a lot for their money.”

    But the appetite for the homes was quickly sated after ailing banks began sharply curtailing the lending that had paid for the costly renovations many of the properties required. Shells of brownstones that cost more than $1 million two years ago are now fetching less than half that price, according to brokers with Massey Knakal Realty Services. And fewer homes are changing hands. In the first half of this year, 11 Harlem town homes sold for an average of $1.1 million; in the same period of 2008, 27 town homes sold for an average of $1.3 million.

    In many cases, brokers will not even agree to try to sell the properties because there are no buyers, said Victor Sozio, the director of sales for Massey Knakal’s Harlem office, who is selling Mr. Charie’s property. And the slide may only be beginning; early signs indicate that it will be far more severe than the downturn that has hit much of the nation.

    The decline is frustrating not only to those who bought Harlem homes hoping to resell them, but also to longtime owners who had anticipated seeing long-abandoned parts of their blocks spruced up. William J. Brown, a brownstone owner whose family has lived in and around the 134th Street block for four generations, said the area seemed to be turning a corner a few years ago.

    “It feels like a regression,” Mr. Brown said. “It seems the progress has halted or stopped.”

    Certainly, the results for the properties on 134th Street have not been what the neighbors had hoped for. The house at 259 West 134th Street has been renovated and is for sale. But at 245, where it appears that renovations began with new windows, a foreclosure auction is scheduled for next week, according to data tracked by The houses at 255 and 257 are boarded up; PropertyShark records show the latter in pre-foreclosure as of November.

    For Amos Palmer, the previous owner of Mr. Charie’s brownstone, the time to sell was 2006. Mr. Palmer contacted Michael Meier, a Prudential Douglas Elliman broker, and said he wanted to sell the home and move closer to his sons.
    A long line of potential buyers wanted to see it, Mr. Meier said, and five made offers. Mr. Charie, a lawyer and real estate investor who had bought and renovated properties with his sister Alison, paid $750,000 in March 2007.

    He said he expected to make a solid profit. He planned to spend nearly $550,000 on restoring original features, like the dark wood stair railings and the brownstone exterior, and hoped to resell the home for as much as $1.6 million. He was so eager to move forward that he offered to clean out the odds and ends of Mr. Palmer’s family. Two years later, that task remains.

    Mr. Charie halted renovation plans in June 2008 because he feared that no matter what he did, he would not be able to sell the property. He recently reduced the price to $599,000. If he cannot get that, he might proceed with the idea of turning the home into rental apartments, even though he is reluctant to sacrifice the original moldings to reconfigure the space.

    Down on 119th Street, a town house Mr. Charie bought in 2007 and renovated has been languishing on the market since last year, despite a price cut to $1.3 million from $1.695 million. But he is far from soured on town house investments.

    “I’m not done with Harlem,” he said. “I just have to shift what I do.”

  8. #158

    Default “East Harlem Merchants Are Doing Well Even while Fighting Eminent Domain”

    Spokesperson: Damon Bae 1-917-309-9595
    Immediate Release –

    “East Harlem Merchants Are Doing Well Even while Fighting Eminent Domain” Plan for East 125th Street Development Can’t Happen with Developer Facing Bankruptcy

    (New York, NY – July 14, 2009) – “This location is doing extremely well", said Damon Bae, whose family owns Fancy Cleaners Depot, which offers wholesale priced dry cleaning services to virtually everyone in the East Harlem neighborhood. "Not only do most of the East Harlem residents come to my store…people drive from New Jersey, Westchester, the
    Bronx and Queens to drop-off and pick up their clothes during their commutes. The line is out the door on Saturdays because people, especially these days, are looking for a way to save. I find that people really like the combination of price and service quality at the store.
    Also, location is everything, and this strategically situated (East 126th Street and Third Avenue) corner is very convenient to commuters and neighborhood residents, despite a 2008 study in which the City of New York proclaimed that this area of East Harlem is "blighted".

    A busy BP gas station anchors another key corner. When combined with a newly remodeled Dunkin Donuts franchise, this corner of East 125th Street and 2nd Avenue becomes a 24/7 magnet for uptown motorists. The 15th Amendment to the East Harlem-Harlem Urban Renewal Plan recently included this property in a proposal to bring Entertainment/Media
    and mostly market-rate housing to a working neighborhood despite that the present uses are economically viable, providing dozens of unskilled local jobs to area residents.

    “Our automotive repair shop has seen its business steadily increasing”, said shop manager Eric Fandaros. “By locating on the outskirts of Midtown, but still on the island of Manhattan, many commercial fleet owners have come to depend us to keep their vehicles in service” he added. Fandaros has seen significant growth in his fleet business and government business as both sectors seek to avoid new capital purchases. The retail side of
    the business, including inspections and routine repairs keeps its steady pace. “It would be very difficult to replace this location in the midblock of East 125th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues” he said. The New York City Economic Development Corporation has condemned his shop as “blighted” and has been unable to suggest relocation to an equivalent site in a comparable location. He also employs dozens of local workers.

    “Our Cycle Therapy motorcycle business has really taken off”, said owner Jacob Toledo. Since purchasing the building a few years back, they have completely remodeled the facility and made it a destination stop for Manhattan’s bikers. “It’s hard to find just the right location which fits into the community”, said Mr. Toledo. His location just off of the RFK Bridge on East 127th Street is easy for metropolitan riders to navigate without facing
    Manhattan gridlock.

    Why does New York City need to take these businesses from their owners? Because the City has manufactured and maintain blight in East Harlem over four decades, surrounding our properties so that they can then hand it over to a private Developer. Everyone reaps the benefits from East Harlem except of course for the people who live here, work here, and call
    Harlem their home.

  9. #159
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Very nice .

    Living Around | Astor Row, Central Harlem

    A Front-Porch Block, Once and Again


    Astor Row, on West 130th Street

    22 West 130th Street

    140 West 130th Street

    The Lenox, a new condominium development at 380 Lenox Avenue

    Lenox Terrace stretches across three blocks, from 132nd to 135th Streets

    420 Lenox Avenue

    Fifth Avenue and West 129th Street

    78 West 131st Street

    ASTOR ROW, on West 130th Street just off Fifth Avenue, with wooden porches and shady front gardens, was once regarded as one of the most tranquil and exclusive streets in Upper Manhattan. That was before it was caught up in the abandonment, decline and drug dealing that shook much of urban America in the late 20th century.

    Now much of it is back. The gardens are in full bloom; porch sitting is back in style. After millions in public and private investment in the area — including efforts by newcomers and families with a heritage there going back decades — the block is at the center of an intense but, as yet, unfinished revival of the surrounding streets in Central Harlem.

    For just as the neighborhood had begun to see a flowering of new restaurants and retail businesses, the economic downturn brought with it uncertainty and falling prices. But adversity does offer opportunity. Brokers say that lower rents and town house prices have brought back bargain hunters, who were priced out a year or two ago.

    In 1988, when Gulsen Calik, and her husband, Lars Westvind, both artists, moved from the East Village to a house on Astor Row, they had seen only the outside. Like many houses on the block then, it was boarded up.
    The price, according to property records, was $30,000. The couple quickly walled off a space at the front and turned it into a studio while they fixed up the rest of the house. “It is a very different Harlem now,” Ms. Calik said. “Now it is the quietest and prettiest block in Manhattan.”

    A few doors down, Chantal Lemaire, and her husband, Frédéric, who both work for the United Nations, are renting a three-bedroom duplex created a few years ago, when a group of investors converted a rooming house back into a two-family home.

    The couple moved to the block for more space for their growing family — a three-bedroom apartment for the price of a two-bedroom downtown, Ms. Lemaire says — but they stayed because they found the street uncommonly friendly. “It is like a village,” she said. “Everyone knows everyone.”

    As if to prove her point, her neighbor, Peter Holtzman, an architect, was in front of his house next door, detailing the history of Astor Row to Cheryl Cox, the director of an Upper East Side rhythmic gymnastics program, who was looking to rent a basement one-bedroom in his house.

    Mr. Holtzman bought his house for $750,000 in 2004 and set about restoring it as a three-family. He told Ms. Cox that in the 1880s, when the Astor family put up the row, the rent was $1,500 a year.

    Now he was asking $1,850 a month for the one-bedroom, which has its own entrance and opens onto a garden. Ms. Cox had been renting at Lenox Terrace, the huge private complex a few blocks away, but was looking for a change.

    Mr. Holtzman warned her that it sometimes took him 15 minutes to walk to the corner, because he talked to neighbors along the way. There is the elderly woman who sits on the stoop across the street each afternoon; she knows most people on the block and everything about it. There is the teacher who bought back a house that her grandfather had owned in the 1960s.


    Astor Row consists of 28 houses, on a single block on the south side of West 130th Street. The three-story red-brick houses are attached in pairs, each 20 feet wide on 25-foot-wide lots, allowing extra light to spill into interior rooms. The houses are set back 20 feet from the street; almost all have wooden porches built with turned posts.

    Across the shady street stand stately high-stooped town houses. The surrounding neighborhood, from Madison Avenue to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (also known as Seventh Avenue), from 125th to 135th Street, consists of row houses, small apartment buildings and a few new condominiums.

    The sprawling Lenox Terrace stretches across three blocks, from 132nd to 135th. A privately owned housing development that went up in the 1950s, it has 1,700 apartments in a six-building complex. It is home to a number of prominent Harlem figures, and was a bit player in a Washington melodrama not long ago, when Representative Charles B. Rangel acknowledged renting four below-market rental apartments there. (He later gave up one apartment, which had been used as a campaign office.)

    Many vacant or deteriorated houses were rebuilt during the recent boom, but on just about every street in the area, one or two shells remain.
    Around the corner from Astor Row is the Victorian row house that from 1903 to his death in 1917 was the home of Philip A Payton Jr., the black Realtor who opened Harlem to blacks. In the 1980s, after years as a rooming house, the house stood vacant and boarded up, next to three empty lots. A few years ago, it was converted into four rentals, while the Lenox, a 12-unit condominium, went up on the vacant lots.

    Lewis Futterman, the Lenox’s developer, said the long-term outlook for Harlem real estate was strong, especially because there is only a limited supply of privately owned building lots left for future development.


    A completely renovated three-family Astor Row house sold for $1.875 million in 2007, near the top of the market, and one hasn’t sold there since. A handful remain boarded up. Neighbors say one Astor house, with considerable original interior detail, is likely to go on the market soon, as part of an estate sale.

    Asking prices for town houses in the neighborhood vary widely: a Modernist four-story on East 128th Street off Fifth Avenue is listed at $3 million; the shell of a house on West 130th Street is priced at $850,000.

    At the Lenox Grand, a new condominium on the west side of Lenox Avenue at 129th Street, a large two-bedroom with a balcony is listed at $675,000, after a 13 percent price cut.

    Rents in Harlem average about $1,800 for one bedroom and $2,200 for two, brokers say. Asking prices in new developments can run considerably higher.

    Yvonne Maddox, a broker with Halstead’s Harlem office, says that although the market stalled last fall, things have changed in the last two months, with contracts being signed and more properties being put on the market.
    Condo prices in northern Manhattan were off 19 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according a recent Halstead market report.


    It is an easy commute downtown to either the East or West Side. There is an express stop for the No. 3 subway on the corner of Lenox Avenue and West 125th Street, a seven-minute walk away. The Lexington Avenue express is a 10-minute walk, at Lexington Avenue and East 125th. Total travel time to either Times Square or Grand Central Terminal is about 30 minutes.


    Residents extol a new wave of restaurants and cafes, as well as some old standbys like Sylvia’s, the soul food restaurant on Lenox Avenue near West 127th Street.

    There is the Trattoria Amici, an Italian-American restaurant in the Lenox Grand at 381 Lenox, and a new wine shop, Lenox Wines, next door. Just north is La Perle Noire, a cafe and bakery, and down West 131st is Tasty News, a newsstand, cafe and general store.

    On Fifth Avenue and West 129th Street, Pascal’s Eatery has tables on a terrace above street level. There also is a new French bistro, Chez Lucienne, on Lenox and West 126th.

    But for groceries many people still head by car to Fairway on West 130th Street and 12th Avenue, or leave Harlem entirely.


    Public schools in Central Harlem have a history of failure. At No. 133, the Fred R. Moore School, fourth-grade scores have risen over the last few years, but still lag considerably, with 45.7 percent of students meeting standards in English and 62.2 percent in math, versus 68.9 and 84.9 citywide.

    Many parents search out other options — from schools for gifted students, to charter or private schools. Families who move here from the Upper West Side often keep their children in the public schools there, brokers say.


    It was in the early 1880s that William Astor put up Astor Row, a small sliver of the building spree that produced the original Waldorf-Astoria. The houses, which were rentals, remained part of the Astor estate until about 1912, when 10 were sold. The houses were originally rented only to white families, but Harlem began to change after real estate values collapsed around 1905. In 1920, The New York Times described “Harlem’s Astor Row for Colored Tenants” and warned of “radical changes” ahead.

    Though the houses were declared landmarks in 1981, many of the porches had rotted away. Brooke Astor provided the New York Landmarks Conservancy a grant, eventually totaling $1.7 million. All but three porches were restored, and the funds have since run out.

  10. #160
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    I've mentioned this marvelous site elsewhere on WNY, but it's well worth revisiting. Not all of the photos necessarily represent a renaissance but the transformation in many cases is heartening. Either way, it's an amazing and fascinating record.

    The invincible Harlem or Real Estate Rewind In Harlem

    Christmas and New Years are times of celebration. They are also times for reflection. And what better place to reflect on than our beloved Harlem.
    HarlemCondoLife’s mission has been to chronicle all that’s great about Harlem. And we’ve uncovered an incredible and innovative way of doing so. It’s called InvincibleCities.

    The site speaks for itself. But in a nutshell, it uses photography and technology to chronicle changes of several urban landscapes. One such landscape is Harlem.

    The first thing I did was check out my block to see what it looked like and compared it to what is there today. Wow. I’ve spent hours examining Harlem then and now through the lens of artistCamilo Jose Vergara. My favorite so far has been examining locations that today have been transformed by new real estate projects, including Frederick Douglass Boulevard, between 110th and 125th, which many consider the “Gateway to Harlem”.

    How to use the site:

    1. Goto
    2. Click on “Harlem”.
    3. Locate the map pane (upper left corner).
    4. Move the bulls eye to the desired location.
    5. Locate the photo phone (right below the map pane).
    6. Click on each dot which represents a photo. The photo will appear in the photo pain (to the right).
    7. Click on the timeline below the photo to see the changes.

    Having lived in Harlem for five years I have seen many changes myself. This site makes that history available to everyone.

    The sit is a neat way to experience the real estate Renaissance in ways few can.

    Join us in exploring the beauty, art and history that is Invincible Cities.

  11. #161
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Lenox Avenue

  12. #162
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Note to Mods: Would it be useful to combine the following threads?:

    The Changing Look of the New Harlem

    Harlem Renaissance (this thread)

    Changing Harlem

    Some Harlem Churches in Fight for Survival


    From the second to last pew at All Souls’ Episcopal Church in Harlem on a recent Sunday morning, Sylvia Lynch, 80, lifted a hand toward the rafters and sang praises through a haze of burnt incense.

    Her voice was steady and strong, as was her grip on the cane she leaned on as she stood and sang and peered over the sparsely populated pews, peppered mostly with older women with fancy hats and hair as gray as her own.

    “I came up through Sunday school, and I’m still here,” Ms. Lynch said, taking a step into an aisle at the 104-year-old church after the last hymn. “Back then, it was packed. You couldn’t get a seat.”

    All Souls’ Church, on St. Nicholas Avenue, and any number of the traditional neighborhood churches in Harlem that had for generations boasted strong memberships — built on and sustained by familial loyalty and neighborhood ties — are now struggling to hold on to their congregations.

    The gentrification of Harlem has helped deplete their ranks, as younger residents, black and white, have arrived but not taken up places in their pews. Longtime Harlem families, either cashing in on the real estate boom over the past decade or simply opting to head south for their retirement, have left the neighborhood and its churches. Then there are the deaths, as year by year, whole age bands are chipped away.

    Without a sustainable membership, and with no fresh wave of tithe-paying, collection-plate-filling young members, these churches have struggled to keep their doors open, to maintain repairs and to extend their reach in the community.

    Some, like All Souls’, cannot afford a full-time minister, let alone operate a soup kitchen or clothes pantry.

    “We’re seeing several funerals a year, and the new members aren’t coming in,” said Ann Mayfield, 58, senior warden of the vestry at All Souls’. “Sometimes we feel a sense of powerlessness in carrying out the responsibility we have for the community. It’s absolutely frustrating.”

    The great historic churches of Harlem do not seem imperiled, and indeed, with their nonprofit housing and local economic development arms, some have fueled the demographic and economic transformation and resurgence of the neighborhood.

    But for some of the smaller churches — which have served as anchors and havens in the shadow of the larger institutions — the fight to survive and stay relevant has been daunting.

    “If we don’t have the teenagers and the younger people coming into the church, as the older people pass, who is going to take over?” said Raymond Stevens, 57, a congregant at All Souls’. “It’s an uphill battle. It puts a lot of pressure on the congregation because you have to dig deep into your pockets to keep the church open. Our congregation is older, many are sick, and I really don’t know what the future holds.”

    The Little Flower Baptist Church, formerly on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, was forced to close because of dwindling membership and finances. At the Mount Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church on Mount Morris Park West, leaders are struggling to fill the pews and the church’s many programs and services. The pastor at Rescue Baptist Church on West 123rd Street said that his church was not drawing enough income to pay his salary, and that he had to take a second job working at a stand inside Yankee Stadium to make ends meet.

    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has also struggled financially, and in recent years it closed St. Thomas the Apostle Church on 118th Street, among others, including Our Lady Queen of Angels on 112th Street in East Harlem.

    At All Souls’, regular attendance for Sunday service is about 50, down from hundreds in decades past. When eight children showed up for Sunday school recently, the teacher described the showing as “huge,” as it was nearly quadruple the average class size. About 80 percent of the congregation is made up of “senior citizens,” according to members of the vestry.

    When a 105-year-old congregant died recently, she took with her 25 percent of the church’s annual income from offerings. The loss compounded the burden of paying for a part-time receptionist, a custodian, an organist and the priests hired on a per-service basis. Last year, the church used seven priests, a formula that proved much less expensive than the cost of a full-time priest’s salary, housing, benefits and other expenses.

    The void in consistent leadership has cost the church in other ways — slowing efforts to recruit new congregants in a changing Harlem, a neighborhood ever more populated by young professionals.

    Ministers from churches across Harlem said they had yet to penetrate the walls of the high-price condominiums and the million-dollar refurbished brownstones that now dominate the neighborhood. Some, in truth, expressed little desire to do so. Others said they saw the gentrification of Harlem as an opportunity, but one as yet unrealized.

    A number of ministers said that most of the white faces they had seen on Sunday mornings were those of the casually dressed tourists with cameras dangling from their necks looking for the “gospel experience.” They do not pay tithes and rarely leave much in the way of an offering.

    All Souls’ Church has also had to cut back on the services it used to provide, like the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings it had hosted for more than 20 years. And while it has managed to maintain its summer day camp in Harlem, the 130-acre campground it owns upstate has gone quiet.

    “Every week the treasurer shows me the checks that go out and the income that comes in, and all that we can do is praise God that we are actually able to pay our bills,” Ms. Mayfield said. “But there’s nothing left over.”

    A recent treasurer’s report published in one of the church’s weekly programs showed how slim the margin was between its income and expenses. Income from offerings for that week was $2,215.74. Its expenses were $2,159.36. And a change jar at the back of the sanctuary collected $17.01.

    “Our funds are limited, but we try to utilize what we have the best way we know how,” said Ms. Lynch, a former member of the vestry.

    Snaked somewhere between the joy, warmth and fellowship of the tight-knit, mostly African-American and Caribbean-American congregation were some frustration, a bit of anxiety and a tinge of sorrow regarding the current state of things.

    “I cannot allow myself to fear the worst; I just can’t allow myself to,” said Ms. Mayfield, who was baptized at the church as a baby. “I might get a little sense of something that seems like fear, but then I have to snatch it back.”

    In July 1932, All Souls’ was the scene of a rebellion, when the all-white vestry announced that the church would be segregated and that black congregants, who made up 75 percent of the congregation, would have to worship in separate services, according to the church and historians.

    The Jim Crow services were fought by congregants, who printed leaflets that read, “Self-Respecting People Refuse to be Jim Crowed,” and handed them out during Sunday service, according to a news account that year.

    According to historians, the vestry fought back, threatening to fire the rector if he continued to encouraged mixed-race services. The bishop, William T. Manning, eventually interceded and demanded that church services be open to anyone who chose to attend.

    Ms. Lynch said she had been a member of the church for 71 years, since she was 9 — back when the church services were standing-room-only affairs.

    “I was raised here, was married here, and I raised my children here,” Ms. Lynch said.

    In the 1940s and ’50s, the church was vibrant and bustling, she said.

    Those were the days of the blue laws, when few businesses were open on Sunday, which meant there were few excuses to skip service. Many homes did not have television. The church was the absolute center of the community, Ms. Lynch said, a place where friends came in packs and families and neighbors mingled, a time when families’ status, to a degree, could be judged by how “churched” they were.

    Her mother opened a hair salon in the neighborhood and charged 50 cents a head, and a big chunk of that money went to the church, where some of her customers were undoubtedly members, she said.

    “She didn’t make much, but she did everything she could to maintain and build up this church,” she said.

    Ms. Lynch took a few more steps from her pew and down the aisle toward the back of the church, passing the change jar just behind the last pew, where a set of stairs led to a basement hall. There, the congregation had gathered for a post-service lunch of assorted meats, fried plantains, greens and macaroni and cheese.

    As she stood at the edge of those steps, Ms. Lynch spoke of priests who rose and faded, of rescued street children and of her family and her congregation and the only church she had ever known. “Sometimes it’s heart-wrenching,” she said, stepping from the edge. “But there’s something about this church that we all love.”

  13. #163
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Faltering Harlem Housing Deal Won City Cash


    From left, apartment buildings on 135th Street, Frederick Douglass Boulevard
    and St. Nicholas Avenue that are owned by an arm of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.

    In the early 1990s, with New York City eager to find creative ways of rehabilitating its troubled neighborhoods, it struck a multimillion-dollar deal with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce: The city sold the chamber a collection of dilapidated Harlem apartment buildings for a nominal amount, and arranged for close to $10 million in low-cost loans to help fix and restore the buildings.

    The deal could hardly have gone worse — in almost every way, and over many, many years.

    The chamber’s development arm twice faced foreclosure on the collection of properties; utility bills went unpaid, and renovations were never done.

    Nonetheless, in 2008, after years of failed promises to run the buildings effectively, the Bloomberg administration chose to invest additional millions with the chamber’s development arm, known formally as Greater Harlem Housing Development Corporation. It awarded the group a $2.55 million forgivable loan, essentially a grant, to take care of long-neglected rehabilitation work. Now, two years later, there is evidence this investment has proved as troubled and disappointing as the first one.

    A review of the public record makes clear the decision to award the money came just as the administration was in the final push to gain City Council approval for one of its largest and most controversial neighborhood rezoning initiatives, a plan to change the rules for development in an area that straddles 125th Street, Harlem’s main thoroughfare.

    Such things do not move forward without the approval of the local council member. And in Harlem, that person was Inez E. Dickens, a woman with a lifetime’s worth of connections to the Harlem chamber and its president, Lloyd A. Williams. Ms. Dickens’s father had been president of the chamber before Mr. Williams; she had served on its board; and Mr. Williams had been among her few fund-raisers.

    Ms. Dickens had initially spoken against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s rezoning plan for Harlem. The plan — which involved things like initiatives for housing and rules on the heights of new buildings — had provoked fierce neighborhood opposition from those who feared that remaking the neighborhood’s signature thoroughfare would price out longtime residents and businesses.

    But on April 30, 2008, Ms. Dickens threw her support behind the plan, and directed her colleagues on the City Council to approve it, a decision that provoked jeers and taunting from dozens of Harlem residents who had turned up at City Hall. The same day, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development notified Mr. Williams that it was finalizing the $2.55 million grant.

    full NYT article

  14. #164

    Default Old school on W119

    Does anyone know what's going on with the old school on W 119th Street between St. Nicholas and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Harlem?

    It's one of those great old schools that look a bit like a palace with the recessed central entranceway, like the soon-to-be-condos PS 90. (Click here for the Google Maps image.) I'm hoping this one is being restored ... as a school, condos, whatever -- as a rule of thumb, anything old in Harlem is nice (but usually shabby) and anything new is cheap as dirt.

    I walked by today and saw it was covered in scaffolding. Google tells me its address is 257 W. 119th St., but I couldn't find anything anywhere near that address in the DOB website. Anyone know what's up?

  15. #165


    Are there plans to raze these? If so, that's f.cked up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post

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