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Thread: Harlem Renaissance

  1. #76

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    Most people coming to Columbia for any purpose would not want to stay in Harlem, despite its proximity, and the university is just fine with that. Among other things, it's more arduous to climb through Morningside Park (and somewhat didgy to do so at night) than to take the 1 up from any hotel on the Upper West Side.

    In any case, a hotel/conference center may be slated for the new Manhattanville campus.

  2. #77

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    Associated Press
    December 26, 2007

    Finding the real Harlem amid a changing landscape


    Sikhulu Shange, who has owned The Record Shack for 35 years, is fighting to stay in business.


    Soul food restaurant Sylvia's is Harlem's best-known eatery.

    Harlem is the historic capital of black American culture, but like many New York neighborhoods, it is rapidly changing.

    Condos can go for $1 million. Big retailers like Old Navy, Starbucks, Payless, Staples and Blockbuster are ubiquitous. On 125th Street near Fifth Avenue, bulldozers clear a vacant lot for an upscale hotel.

    Old-timers worry that redevelopment will wipe out mom-and-pop stores and affordable housing, along with the area's distinct character. But boosters say commerce and construction bring jobs, safe streets and new cultural and retail venues that complement famous landmarks.

    Certainly Harlem's appeal to tourists has never been stronger. Double-decker sightseeing buses cross 125th Street every few minutes. Japanese visitors queue up at Sylvia's, the famous soul food restaurant.

    "There is an image of Harlem that is indelible around the world," said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company, the city's marketing and tourism organization. "But that image is maybe more stuck in the past -- the music scene, the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater. You think about these things because they're iconic. But Harlem is a wonderful, thriving community. It's bigger than any building, bigger than any iconic representation. And there are so many things to do."

    But how does a visitor find the real Harlem amid all the changes? And what is the real Harlem anyway?

    Here are some answers, along with ideas for where to go when you exit the subway at 125th Street.

    Restaurants

    "Harlem is not hard to find. Anywhere you walk in the community is history," said Clarence Cooper, manager of Sylvia's.

    Sylvia's is Harlem's best-known eatery (328 Lenox Ave. near 126th Street) and can get very busy at peak times like Sunday brunch. The $4.50 express breakfast on a weekday at the counter (8-10 a.m.) is a nice alternative. Just don't be surprised if the waitress chides you -- with a smile -- for not finishing your eggs, grits and biscuit.

    Other Southern food eateries include Londel's (2620 Frederick Douglass Blvd. near 140th), and Miss Maude's Spoonbread Too (547 Lenox Ave., near 138th). Ginger (1400 Fifth Ave. near 116th) opened in 2005 with good reviews for its healthy Chinese food.

    Accommodations

    For now, lodgings in Harlem are limited to bed-and-breakfasts (listings at http://www.harlemonestop.com).

    But large upscale hotels are on the way. "There's more than enough demand here for eight hotels," said Steve Williams, managing partner of Danforth Development, which is turning the shuttered Victoria Theater on 125th Street into a hotel to open in 2011. It will also house condos and cultural arts space, including a venue for the National Jazz Museum.

    Farther east on 125th Street near Fifth Avenue, the Uptown Grand Hotel will open in 2010 with 252 rooms, 19 stories, bars, lounges, eateries, a pool, and event space. "We expect to be successful," said developer Paul Reisman of Reisman Property Interests. "This is the first hotel here in 40 years."

    Shopping

    "You can still find a semblance of Harlem, but it is vanishing quickly," said Sikhulu Shange, owner of the Record Shack (274 W. 125th St.). "What we have built, they want it now. They want the culture."

    Shange's store -- which sells African, Caribbean, gospel and other CDs along with DVDs like Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" -- is under court order to vacate by March 30, but he's hoping to find a way to stay open. "We haven't given up," he said.

    African Paradise, which sells jewelry, wallets, sculptures and other African imports, is expected to move from 27 W. 125th St. in mid-January. "A lot of corporate businesses are taking over the old places," said the shopkeeper, who goes by the name Debe. "Change is good, but when they start improving, they push people out of stores and apartments."

    Still, African Paradise could benefit from its move. Debe said the store plans to relocate across from Sylvia's, where souvenir shoppers abound.

    Don't miss the vendors along 125th Street, who sell Afrocentric photos, books, and CDs along with unique items like the "thread art" designs made by William Lebron. Other interesting shops include Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe (2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd. near 124th, http://huemanbookstore.com/) and the Nubian Heritage marketplace (2037 Fifth Ave. at 126th), which is also the location for the Harlem Visitor Information Center.

    Nike and Foot Locker chose Harlem as the location for their first-ever House of Hoops (268 W. 125th St.), selling upscale basketball clothing, sneakers and gear. The store opened in November, launching a chain.

    Other large retailers include Old Navy and Nine West at the Harlem USA center (300 W. 125th St.); Starbucks, which opened at 125th and Lenox in 1999; and H&M, the fashionable Swedish clothing store (125 W. 125th St.). Recent visits found all the mannequins in H&M's Harlem windows were brunette, while its 34th Street windows showed blondes.

    Harlem spirituals

    "Twenty-five years ago, people were wondering, 'Why a tour of Harlem?"' said Muriel Samama, who founded the tour company Harlem Spirituals (http://harlemspirituals.com/, 800-660-2166) in the early 1980s.

    Nobody asks "Why Harlem?" any more. Harlem Spirituals offers tours in five languages and takes visitors to hear gospel choirs on Sundays and Wednesdays, with tickets starting at $49 and departures from midtown ($89 if you add a meal at Sylvia's or the Cotton Club). The company recently started organizing music workshops for visitors, one with gospel singers and another with Marjorie Eliot, who hosts a weekly jazz concert in her Harlem home.

    Bus tours

    Each year, about 40 percent of the 3 million people using Gray Line's hop-on, hop-off buses around New York take the "Uptown Loop," which includes Harlem and stops on 125th Street across from the Apollo Theater. Tickets are $39 (http://www.graylinenewyork.com, or 212-445-0848).

    Points of interest

    Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne and Fidel Castro all stayed at the Hotel Theresa. It closed in 1967 and is now an office building, but as you walk east from the Apollo along 125th, you can still see the hotel name atop the tall building on the south side of the street.

    A statue of the late Harlem congressman, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., graces the plaza of the state office building that bears his name (163 W. 125th St.). Around the corner, you can bowl at Harlem Lanes (2116 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.).

    The Studio Museum of Harlem (144 W. 125th St., http://www.studiomuseum.org) is open Wednesday-Friday, noon-6 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sundays, noon-6 p.m. Suggested donation, $7.

    You can buy a donut from the kiosk in the lobby of the building where Bill Clinton's foundation is located (55 W. 125th St.). But you'll have to sign in with a guard and promise not to take any photos.

    The house where poet Langston Hughes lived (20 E. 127th St., http://www.thelangstonhugheshouse.com) is now a performance space. It hosts open mic events on the first and third Thursday of the month and other programs.

    One of Harlem's most famous churches is Abyssinian Baptist (132 Odell Clark Place, 138th Street). Sunday services are 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Visitors should dress appropriately, stay for the entire service (up to two hours), and refrain from photos or recordings. "Our Sunday worship services are not musical concerts, they are sacred," the Web site stresses. Groups of five or more must reserve two weeks ahead (http://www.abyssinian.org, 212-864-7474).

    Entertainment

    Music is the heart of Harlem's history, and old-time venues still rule the night.

    Amateur night at the Apollo Theater (253 W. 125th St.) has been held Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. since 1934; alumni include James Brown and Lauryn Hill. Tickets start at $15; there are also daytime tours and other shows (http://www.apollotheater.org or Ticketmaster).

    The Lenox Lounge (288 Lenox Ave., near 125th, http://www.lenoxlounge.com) opened in 1939, hosting greats like Billie Holiday and Miles Davis. It was recently featured in the film "American Gangster." Nightly show times vary; most require a $20 cover and two-drink minimum. Dinner is also available.

    Showman's Bar (375 W. 125th St.) has moved several times since opening in 1942 but still offers live music (two-drink minimum).

    The Cotton Club (656 W. 125th St., http://www.cottonclub-newyork.com/) holds a swing dance Mondays at 8:30 p.m., $15 cover; blues and jazz buffet, $40, Thursday-Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 9 p.m.; and a gospel show and buffet brunch, Saturday-Sunday at noon and 2:30 p.m., $32. The original Cotton Club was located farther uptown and later in midtown; this one opened in 1978.

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press

  3. #78

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    125th St. development wants to break new proposed height limit






    By David Jones

    The developers of the long-awaited Harlem Park office complex urged the City Planning Commission to reconsider a controversial height requirement under the proposed rezoning of 125th Street today, warning the new development could be derailed without such an exemption.

    A joint venture led by Vornado Realty Trust said it is close to signing leases with a major sports TV network and a major urban radio company, and said any revision in building design might lead the potential tenants to pull out of the project. The proposed rezoning would limit buildings to 290 feet on the north side of 125th Street. However the proposed building would require about 305 feet, plus at least 40 additional feet for satellite equipment and antennas.

    "We have firm deadlines with both of those tenants by which they have to be on location," said Derek Johnson, principal at Integrated Holdings, which is part of the joint venture with Vornado and San Francisco-based MacFarlane Partners.

    Johnson, in an interview with The Real Deal, said the anchor is a major sports network, (but not ESPN), and that the second major tenant is a big urban radio company. The two tenants would take up more than one-third of the Park Avenue and 125th Street complex, which will include 540,000 square feet of commercial space and 50,000 square feet of retail. The retail space will likely include at least one restaurant.

    Johnson said that venture planned to break ground in April, with the lead tenants moving in by the fourth quarter of 2009. The remaining tenants would be able to move in by the first quarter of 2010. He would not disclose who was financing the project, but confirmed that it was a U.S.-based lender.

    The venture would be the first major office building on 125th Street in more than 40 years. Johnson would not disclose terms of the lease agreements, but said they would be substantially below asking rents for comparable Midtown buildings.

    Breaking the 290-foot height limit could be difficult. Harlem leaders, including Franc Perry, chairman of Community Board 10, say they don't want any buildings higher than the Theresa Towers, a legendary hotel that is 160 feet high.

    A spokeswoman for Amanda Burden, director of the city's Department of City Planning and chair of the City Planning Commission, said she had no comment.

  4. #79

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    I love how residents throughout the city cite landmark buildings for height limits, where height has no signifigance whatsoever. There is nothing written by the buildings architect (long dead) about how it should be the highest structure. The landmark structure itself wouldn't be built if it followed such a decree that no building should rise higher than some structure that was there before it. What more the Hotel Theresa is not even close to this site and is probably not the least bit visible from this site. And its landmark has little to do with its height and nothing to do with keeping the rest of Harlem a low-rise neighborhood. What these ass-holes don't understand is zoning, a site is zoned for so many square feet, they can either get a tall building thats going to offer loads of light for both the neighborhood by casting a smaller shadow and for its residents, or they can get a short, fat-bloated monstrosity, which this building already is. Please no more! At its original height it would have been a modern day landmark, along the lines of Hotel Theresa. Instead it's destined to be a blight. These people are ruining the city!

  5. #80
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    ^Here, here!

  6. #81

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    Yes, this is East Harlem, well to the east of the Hotel Theresa. Transport-wise it's a great location, close to the express subway and one stop from Grand Central on the Metro North.

  7. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stern View Post
    I love how residents throughout the city cite landmark buildings for height limits, where height has no signifigance whatsoever. There is nothing written by the buildings architect (long dead) about how it should be the highest structure. The landmark structure itself wouldn't be built if it followed such a decree that no building should rise higher than some structure that was there before it. What more the Hotel Theresa is not even close to this site and is probably not the least bit visible from this site. And its landmark has little to do with its height and nothing to do with keeping the rest of Harlem a low-rise neighborhood. What these ass-holes don't understand is zoning, a site is zoned for so many square feet, they can either get a tall building thats going to offer loads of light for both the neighborhood by casting a smaller shadow and for its residents, or they can get a short, fat-bloated monstrosity, which this building already is. Please no more! At its original height it would have been a modern day landmark, along the lines of Hotel Theresa. Instead it's destined to be a blight. These people are ruining the city!

    Agreed!

    I wonder what the sports network is that they are trying to put in the development?

  8. #83
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    A new TV Network from Major League Baseball ...

    Office Tower to Rise in Harlem for Baseball TV Network

    NY TIMES
    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    January 31, 2008

    Major League Baseball plans to build a home on 125th Street, Harlem’s premier boulevard, for its cable network, which is scheduled to make its debut early next year with some 50 million subscribers, real estate and baseball executives said on Wednesday.

    The planned building, to be developed by Vornado Realty Trust, would rise 21 stories in an interlocking set of luminescent glass cubes at 125th Street and Park Avenue and would be the first prime office tower to be built in Harlem in more than three decades.

    Vornado is also negotiating with Inner City Broadcasting, the second-largest radio broadcasting company aimed at black listeners, to move to the planned tower from its Midtown offices, according to real estate executives and local officials.

    The Vornado project is an expression of how sky-high rents in Midtown Manhattan have contributed to Harlem’s renaissance, pushing residential developers in particular to build in the once economically struggling community. The Vornado project, to be called Harlem Park, would be the first major office tower in the area since the construction of the State Office Building, also on 125th Street, in the early 1970s.

    But Vornado still has hurdles to cross, and if the project advances, it would not be the first to hold a groundbreaking at the site. Three years ago, Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg held a press conference there in anticipation of a $236 million hotel and retail project that never materialized.

    Vornado is seeking an exception to proposed rezoning that would impose height restrictions on buildings along 125th Street before it starts construction in the spring, and Major League Baseball is negotiating with the city for an incentive package. Some elected officials are also seeking assurances that the project will provide jobs for local residents and will not displace small businesses in the area.

    “We want to know about jobs and we want to protect indigenous businesses,” said city Councilwoman Inez E. Dickens, whose district includes the site, now a vacant lot.

    Still, city officials are optimistic that a national developer like Vornado and a major tenant like Major League Baseball will propel the project forward.

    “Harlem Park will be the area’s first Class-A office tower in decades and will attract major tenants, showcasing the economic growth under way in Harlem,” said Robert C. Lieber, the deputy mayor for economic development. “We’re still negotiating with Vornado and Major League Baseball, and if we are able to get it done, it will be a home run for the entire area.”

    Real estate executives said that Major League Baseball was completing negotiations to lease about one-fifth of the planned 630,000-square-foot building. That would include the second and third floors for broadcast studios and editing, as well as the top two floors of the tower for the network’s executive and sales offices.

    The area around Park Avenue is still frayed and has not seen as much development as other stretches of 125th Street. But Harlem has changed dramatically.

    The average price for new apartments in Harlem has hit $895,000. The historic Apollo Theater on 125th Street is in the midst of a $96 million restoration and expansion. Two hotels are under development nearby, and national retailers like Old Navy, Starbucks and Sony Theaters have moved onto the boulevard. Columbia University has plans for a new $7 billion campus on 17 acres to the west.

    Vornado took over the site at Park Avenue last year, after the hotel project died. The company said then that it viewed the spot as ideal for a commercial tower because it sits close to a subway stop, a Metro-North train stop and what will be the northern terminus of the Second Avenue subway.

    It has nearby highway access to the airports and has nostalgic appeal because it is also less than two miles south of 155th Street and the former site of the Polo Grounds, where the New York Giants played, and Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx.

    Vornado hired Swanke Hayden Connell Architects. But it still needed a blue-chip anchor tenant for the project in order to begin construction. And Major League Baseball, which wanted to enter the lucrative world of cable television, needed space.

    The league’s new network, like the channels already operated by the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League, will offer a mix of live games, studio-based shows and archival, fantasy and reality programming. League-owned networks are vehicles to appeal to fans who want the type of concentrated fix on a single sport that they cannot get from ESPN or the local channels that carry teams’ games.

    Unlike the N.F.L., baseball chose not to wage a protracted fight against cable operators to extend its subscriber rolls; it ensured major distribution by giving Comcast, Time Warner and Cox shares in the network that total 16.67 percent, the same stake that had already been provided to DirecTV for being the first to agree to carry the channel. Because of that deal, the baseball network is expected to be one of the most successful start-ups in television history.

    After searching for space in Manhattan, Queens and New Jersey, the league’s broker, CB Richard Ellis, brought it to the Vornado project on 125th Street, where proposed rents are half those of similar buildings in Midtown. Tenants could also get tax breaks. Since Vornado does not expect to complete the tower until 2010, Major League Baseball has found temporary space in Secaucus, N.J.

    The city is set to rezone 125th Street and restrict building heights in such a way that the tower would be about 40 feet too tall. The company is hoping for an exemption.

    But local officials are also concerned that the current wave of gentrification is displacing not only longtime residents, but also small businesses on 125th Street that had stuck it out through the bad times in Harlem.

    Major League Baseball’s decision “is an exciting way that they can deepen their relationship with the African and Hispanic communities,” said Robert J. Rodriguez, chairman of Community Board 11. “We’re interested in seeing how that develops. As a community, we recognize how an office development could add vibrancy to the surrounding community. But we remain concerned about how this development proceeds and about jobs for local residents.”

    Richard Sandomir contributed reporting.

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  9. #84
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Major League Baseball plans to build a home on 125th Street ...

    ... 21 stories in an interlocking set of luminescent glass cubes at 125th Street and Park Avenue ...

    Vornado hired Swanke Hayden Connell Architects.
    Swanke Hayden Connell Architects


    One of the latest buildings from SHCA is rising in ...
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    ASTANA !!!


    Astana Tower
    Kazakhstan

  10. #85
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    The late edition of the NY TIMES has added this image to the MLB Tower story ...


    Swanke Hayden Connell
    A proposed building at 125th Street and Park Avenue.

    mlb125

  11. #86

    Default my guess is government nimbys will kill it and hurt harlem

    It looks to me like the NIMBYs are set to kill this project by worrying about height limits. In the process, they'll hurt Harlem's main street, and undermine economic activity.

    Then they'll probably whine that we need more government income redistribution because unemployment in Harlem in high, even though actions like not immediately approving the height increase these developers require directly causes disinevestment in Harlem in the first place.

    What we need is economic freedom, where Vornado can build a tall impressive tower that emphatically states Harlem is the new hot place for corporations looking to employ people in New York City.

  12. #87
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The main concerns I've heard on the news regarding this tower are being raised by residents. They're saying that the money generated by this project will leave the community and not really benefit those who make the immediate area their home.

    Not that I believe that to be necessarily true (although if I lived nearby I probably would be somewhat skeptical about rosy pronouncements from folks with big money and who apend most of their time much farther downtown).

    But rather than "government" nimbys (wouldn't someone like that be termed a "nitby" -- not in their back yard ) it could be that the biggest opposition will come from actual local neighborhood nimby types.

  13. #88

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    If this development is built they will pool alot of employment from the area, there are alot of Harlem residents with college degrees and in-between jobs. Further all other jobs that don't require higher education or other special requirements will no doubt be pooled from the neighborhood, offering nicely paying jobs to the community. Further I have no doubt that Inner City Broadcasting and other similar type companies that will sign-on here will no doubt pool heavily from there demographic base.

  14. #89
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    There is, in fact, not one credible excuse for limiting height in this instance.

    This is not a shopping mall, or a sports stadium, or an amusement park. This is a development that will bring significant amounts of people into the area on an almost permanent basis. I can't imagine any local stakeholders stand to lose anything by allowing Vornado to develop here.

  15. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by investordude View Post
    It looks to me like the NIMBYs are set to kill this project by worrying about height limits.
    I don't think you need to worry, since the local city councilperson is a big supporter of the project. She also supports the overall rezoning.

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