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Thread: Washington Heights

  1. #31
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    April 19, 2009
    Streetscapes | West 158th Street

    In Audubon Park, a Few Surviving Oriels


    Before and After photos
    Last edited by Edward; February 15th, 2012 at 06:07 PM. Reason: Full text by Christopher Gray deleted

  2. #32


    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission, says the proposed district focuses on apartment buildings, not row houses.
    What an idiotic thing to say. (As though a historic district could contain only one building type!) Why is this lame brain on a government commission?

  3. #33


    Especially when the excluded buildings predate the rest of the district.

    Map of proposed district

  4. #34

    Post Washington Heights

    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Why is this lame brain on a government commission?
    Good point: but not exactly a "Gordon Bennett".

  5. #35
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    157th St. and Riverside Dr.: This under-the-radar NYC 'hood is making a comeback

    BY Jason Sheftell

    When I tell people I’m heading to 157th St., they look at me like I’m pushing this real estate beat too far.

    “What are you writing about up there?” they ask. “I could never live there,” they say.

    Of course, these backseat-neighborhood New Yorkers have never stepped a square foot near “there.”

    Like other rediscovered corners, streets and neighborhoods, 157th St. and Riverside Dr. has received attention lately from value-conscious home hunters looking for large apartments.

    Unlike rediscovered areas, though, this neighborhood of prewar co-ops and townhouses on hilly windy streets gets my vote for the most attractive.
    Once you exit the 1 train at Broadway and 157th St. and head away from the fried-chicken shops and phone card stores toward the Hudson River, history comes alive in this neighborhood of curved buildings sporting faux turrets and a Greek revival university square housing the Hispanic Society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Also — and this is rare — no one wants to keep this neighborhood a secret. Residents, politicians and real estate agents all want people to know just how livable this southwest Washington Heights neighborhood can be.

    Like everywhere else, it has problems. Residents complain about the lack of supermarkets, butchers and banks, how there’s no café and poor retail. Homebuyers have even looked elsewhere because of weak services.

    But on a sunny day, walking toward the parklike oval linking Riverside Dr. with the Hudson River, heading toward Trinity Cemetery to rest on a park bench by Renaissance Revival buildings, this is as good a spot as any to watch life unfold in a peaceful quarter of New York City.

    History: Recently declared a historic district by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission, Audubon Terrace (155th St. to 158th St. around Riverside Dr.) dates back to 1841, when bird expert John James Audubon bought farmland overlooking the Hudson River. While Audubon’s 20-acre estate and house are gone, the area’s elevation made it ideal for development, as turn-of-the-century builders lured upper-middle-class lawyers and doctors seeking Park Ave. lifestyles in slightly greener pastures.

    The apartments were three- and four-bedroom homes with mahogany-lined dining areas and servants’ quarters with private baths. The lobbies were filled with limestone, brass and marble.

    “This neighborhood was as affluent as any in the early 20th century,” said Robert Snyder, head of the American Studies department at Rutgers University and author of a coming book on Washington Heights. “It was as favorable a place to live as Central Park West.”

    The neighborhood’s prominence waned after the Depression, but buildings like the Grinnell at 800 Riverside Dr. and the Riviera at 790 Riverside Dr. drew people looking for spacious homes. In the 1960s, African-Americans moving from Central Harlem or the South relocated families to these big apartments. After a crack epidemic tattooed the neighborhood as dangerous in the mid-1980s, it recovered through joint efforts by local residents, police and politicians.

    “The city had a tremendous victory over crack and crime in the southern part of Washington Heights,” said Snyder. “It would be a shame if real estate conditions and high prices ruin that victory by taking away housing from the people who stuck it out through tough times.”

    The good neighbor: Vivian Ducat, a new media specialist and agent with Ariela Heilman Real Estate, lives in a classic six apartment with three-
    exposure views at 790 Riverside Dr. When she and her husband first looked at the neighborhood in 1992, he thought it was too rough around the edges for a young family. But having grown up on the upper West Side in the 1960s, Ducat never forgot the area around 157th St.

    When she saw the three-bedroom apartment with a dining and maid’s room for $650,000 in 2003, she jumped. Working with the Riverside Oval Asoociation, she’s organized her neighbors to improve a Broadway median called Payan Park and spurred the potential opening of the oval, the small park in front of her building.

    “I was never an activist before,” said Ducat, who recently sold a three-bedroom condo around the corner from her house for $835,000. “When I came here, I thought this was such a great place, but people were passive. You always think someone else will do something. I decided to do it myself.”
    In addition to organizing oral history discussions in local buildings, Ducat works with local institutions to improve their Web presence. Through public and private grants, she’s raising money to run taped walking tours on the neighborhood and has funded 20 local tree guards.

    For sale and rent: According to, 11 apartments are for sale at 790 Riverside Dr. In addition to a four-bedroom, three-bath on the market for $1.695 million, there are two-bedrooms for $479,000 and $589,000. Rentals in the area hover around $1,350 for a one-bedroom and $2,500 for a two-bedroom.

    “We haven’t seen significant price drops that other areas have,” says Corcoran broker Bruce Robertson, who lives in the Grinnell and has
    several listings in the neighborhood. “There’s not a lot of stress living up here.” Halstead Property lists a burned-out townhouse on W. 158th St. for $795,000.

    The old guard: Just walk the area around the oval and you’ll get opinions on where the neighborhood has been and where it’s going. Retired social workers Donald Bennett and Maryjane Terrell, neighbors for more than three decades, have watched the area change.

    “The hardest thing now is getting the new people to say good morning in the elevator,” said Bennett, who jokes about the names the neighborhood has had over the years. “The name changes, depending on how much crime there is. When it’s high crime, we’re Washington Heights. When it’s low, we’re Harlem.”

    “We’re Audubon Trail or Audubon something now,” said Terrell, referring to the historic district designation that will draw affluent homebuyers. “It’s so nice here that no one moves much.”

    Mary Louise Williams has lived around the Oval on and off since 1961. She lives in a federally subsidized rental building at 156-20 Riverside Dr. with jazz trombonist Mike Grey. Her 15th-floor apartment has views of the Hudson River, Empire State Building and western Manhattan.

    “For me, it was never about the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s the buildings. I like the views.”

    The Broadway divide: Perhaps nowhere in New York is the distinction between the tranquility of the Oval and the chaos of Broadway so apparent. Similar to Inwood and Hudson Heights, east of Broadway is working class. Politicians know this. Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer is driving a “Take Me to the River” campaign that will open up and improve the streetscapes from 145th to 157th Sts., providing access to Riverside Park.

    “People don’t realize that a major strength of this neighborhood is as a waterfront community,” says Stringer, walking the area with Anthony Borelli, his director of land use, and Paimaan Lodhi, urban planner for Washington Heights. “There’s a park here, and some people don’t even know it. Our hope is one day these streets are as pretty as the West Village or Tribeca.”

    My verdict: Something consistently drew me back to this neighborhood. Whether it was the storytellers on the oval’s park benches, the curvy streets and architecture that curved with it, the Hudson River, the 38-minute train ride from 34th St., or the $2 rice and beans on Broadway, I kept coming back. It’s a New York treasure.

  6. #36
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Washington Heights wins by waiting

    While sales are down, pricing in Upper Manhattan nabe holds steady.

    By C. J. Hughes

    It may have Manhattan's highest natural point (265 feet, in Bennett Park), but Washington Heights did not see the steep peaks in activity and prices that so many Manhattan neighborhoods experienced in the past few years.

    As a result, the neighborhood -- which stretches from the Hudson to the East rivers and from 155th to Dyckman streets -- has avoided the complete and utter cratering that many other Manhattan neighborhoods have seen in the last couple months.

    This month, as part of a monthly feature looking at what kinds of deals are closing in different neighborhoods, The Real Deal found that Washington Heights saw a 76 percent drop in closings in the past year. While that may seem steep, pricing held up far better than other, more upscale areas.

    In July (the most recent month for which data were available) there were 11 sales, with an average price of $443,181, according to data provided by StreetEasy, the real estate Web site, and verified through the city's Department of Finance. While the number of closings may not be completely inclusive (there's sometimes a lag between when closings occur and when they're reported), brokers say the figures seem within the range they're seeing.

    The sales that did close ranged from $275,000 — for a one-bedroom co-op at 330 Haven Avenue next to an off-ramp for the George Washington Bridge — to $725,000, for a two-bedroom co-op at 120 Cabrini Boulevard in the lushly landscaped, five-tower Castle Village complex. The data excludes sales of entire buildings, as well as sales of partial units, like annexed storage rooms.

    In comparison, in July 2008, there were 45 sales, for an average of $408,464. That month, prices ranged from $176,400 (for a studio at 4523 Broadway, a red-brick co-op on a busy street), to $875,000, for a two-bedroom at 720 Fort Washington Avenue, a multi-building co-op complex located steps from Fort Tryon Park.

    The sharp decline in activity in Washington Heights, which sweeps across much of Manhattan's northern panhandle, including the micro-neighborhoods Fort George and Hudson Heights, is notable, brokers agree.

    But, they say, it's largely in line with the rest of Manhattan, which saw a 60 percent decrease in sales in the second quarter of 2009 versus the year-ago period, according to data from the Corcoran Group.

    Indeed, considering that Gramercy, a far more upscale neighborhood, saw an 81 percent fall in residential apartment transactions this year, and that Tribeca experienced a stunning 92 percent drop (which The Real Deal reported on in its July and August issues), Washington Heights's plunge is actually not that bad, brokers say.

    In addition, prices appear to have held their own. While most brokers dismissed the $35,000 jump in average prices as statistically insignificant, they did point out that in general prices have not tumbled in Washington Heights as they have in the rest of the borough.

    To wit: Corcoran found that the median price in Manhattan in the second quarter was down 13 percent from the year before.

    "Washington Heights is still a value neighborhood," said Sandy Edry, a broker with Citi Habitats, who closed several of the July deals in the area. "When folks need to move, when they need bigger places, they look in neighborhoods like this, where they get more bang for their buck."

    He cited a couple who had been living in the East Village and bought a condo for $350,000 he was marketing at 807 Riverside Drive, a six-story, 56-unit former rental building at West 157th Street. Edry, who also lives in the neighborhood, said the couple wanted more legroom without an Upper West Side price tag.

    He said in some neighborhoods, sales have been stymied because of the reluctance of banks to issue "jumbo" mortgages — those valued over $729,750 — that aren't eligible for purchase by the government. That hasn't been such a sticking point in Washington Heights, where few deals close over that amount.

    Still, banks continue to be stingy with loans for condos, which typically have looser purchase standards than co-ops, said Edry, who also sold condos at 801 and 835 Riverside Drive, priced at $515,000 and $480,000, respectively, in July.

    Starting this spring, many banks began demanding a down payment of 20 percent of the purchase price, as opposed to the more traditional 10 percent. Some buyers couldn't cover the difference, Edry said.

    Unlike in many other Manhattan neighborhoods, what's missing in Washington Heights are expensive new luxury condos.

    That absence is part of the reason prices didn't escalate as rapidly as they did elsewhere during the boom, said Perry Payne, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman and longtime resident of the area.

    And though the sellers may be more realistic these days, the price stability the neighborhood has seen seems borne out by two deals Payne closed in July. A one-bedroom co-op at 736 West 186th Street, an Art Deco building, sold for $295,000 four weeks after being listed for $299,000, she said. Also, a two-bedroom at 880 West 181st Street, an arts-and-crafts co-op, sold for $400,000 after five weeks; it was originally listed for $420,000.

    "We are pretty solid," she said.

    But even the most desirable buildings haven't been immune to price drops and other hurdles.

    Among the more sought after are the Riviera at 790 Riverside; the Grinnell at 800 Riverside; and River Arts at 159-34 Riverside Drive West.

    Others include 350 Cabrini Boulevard, with 76 units on six floors, which saw two sales in July: a one-bedroom for $285,000 and a two-bedroom for $515,000.

    Kelly Cole, a Corcoran broker, said a three-bedroom in the Riviera, which sold in July for $685,000, had to be discounted three times before closing; it first listed for $800,000 in November. In December, a comparable unit in the building, which has 202 apartments, sold for $800,000, Cole added.

    Even at the market's height, though, most buyers find prices at half of those on the Upper West Side, where many begin looking. The difference is partly because parts of the neighborhood remain gritty without some services much of Manhattan takes for granted, Cole said.

    "[Washington Heights] is not for somebody who needs a Starbucks and five restaurants on every corner," said Cole, who lives in River Arts. "But the neighborhood hasn't been artificially inflated. There's been a natural, steady progression."

  7. #37
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    What an amazing view.

    689 Fort Washington Ave, Washington Heights

    Open House

    This property has an open house scheduled for Sun 1/24, 11:30am‑1:30pm


    With a falcon's view, Penthouse #4 scans south beyond the George Washington Bridge, west over the New Jersey Palisades and far north along the historic Hudson River. These majestic views can not be matched anywhere in New York City. This rare penthouse gem is the perfect place for living large and entertaining on a grand scale. For those urban gardeners, Penthouse #4 transforms into a lush Tuscan paradise in the springtime. The intense western sun provides the perfect environment for dramatic container gardening. Perennials, annuals and vegetables thrive here. This apartment is a renovated two bedroom/one bath prewar penthouse with a very large enclosed all weather glass room. The glass room brings the outdoors inside and provides four seasons worth of comfortable terrace living and entertaining. The apartment s second bedroom is currently used as a den, and it s separated from the living room by French doors. The second bedroom has an oversized window with a wonderful northern view up the Hudson River. The master bedroom has eastern and western views and the windowed kitchen has a northern view. Every inch of this apartment is filled with sun and light twelve months a year. The 1000 square foot terrace is L shaped, and wraps around the northern edge of the apartment. In 2007 the co-op completed a massive exterior restoration project. The building s parapet and the penthouse fa ade and terrace were completely restored. The apartment has ample closet space and outdoor storage bins are on the terrace.This quiet residential enclave in Washington Heights sits at the edge of Ft. Tryon Park and is only one block from the A train and minutes from midtown Manhattan.

    Included Amenities: Elevator, Terrace

  8. #38


    Guy Eppel

    Guy Eppel

    The ride between the Deegan/I-95 interchange in the Bronx and the GWB must be the most complex network of infrastructure in the country.

  9. #39


    That is about as beautiful and tasteful as any apartment I've seen.

  10. #40
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    ^ It's still for sale. And the price is not horrendous...I wish...

  11. #41
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    That wall collapse was 5 years ago .

    At Castle Village, the Final Touches


    Ruben Blanco, left, and Tyrone Parker, tie orange plastic mesh to barricades
    to prevent cars from using the new 181st Street entrance ramp to the
    Hudson River Parkway. The traffic lights are not working yet.

    One way to describe the progress on a project to repair a 75-foot wall that collapsed onto Riverside Drive and the Henry Hudson Parkway in Washington Heights is: Finally, really, finished. Almost.

    Another way is to listen to Carlos Pelletier, the doorman at 1380 Riverside Drive, which was in the path of the debris just north of West 181st Street. How would he describe the repairs?

    “The word I’d use is ‘brutal,’ because of the interruptions,” he said. “The headaches were bad—new piping for sewer and water lines, but those things had to get done, because the things that were in there were from the early 1900s. But you had inconvenience. Cab drivers, they don’t want to come into the block because they have to back out, and there was a time they weren’t allowed in. And now, people are upset it’s not open.”

    The “it” in that sentence is an access ramp to the parkway. It remains blocked until the project, which had been scheduled to open on Sept. 14, undergoes a final round of inspections. A pedestrian walkway that was also repaired is also blocked off. The city says both should be open in the next couple of weeks.

    Mr. Pelletier knows exactly when the trouble started. It was the afternoon of May 12 when the wall came down: “A Thursday,” he said. “I remember. I called 911.”

    That was in 2005, five and a half years ago. Cars on Riverside Drive were buried in topsoil and refrigerator-size chunks of masonry. From there, a good deal of debris fell onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, choking off traffic in the northbound lanes for several days.

    People in Washington Heights had complained about the wall for years; chunks would sometimes break loose and tumble to the street. The co-op apartment complex that owns it, Castle Village, behind and above Mr. Pelletier’s building, had become so concerned that it installed scaffolding to catch debris.

    The wall was a relic from the days when larger-than-life architecture was accompanied by larger-than-life engineering. The larger-than-life architecture was a four-story mansion that looked like a castle, long since demolished and replaced by the X-shaped buildings of a development called Castle Village. The larger-than-life engineering involved lopping the edge off a cliff, flattening the lawn above and designing the wall to hold the soil in place.

    Castle Village spent nearly $27 million on its share of repairs. Gerald L. Fingerhut, the president of the Castle Village co-op, said insurance covered about $10.5 million. The rest came from assessments on the co-op shareholders. “It’s conceivable they ran from $30,000 to $100,000 per apartment,” he said. “We had no choice.”

    Castle Village’s part of the project was completed a couple of years ago. Mr. Fingerhut said that under Castle Village’s settlement with the city, the city took on responsibility for the reconstruction of Riverside Drive and the part of the retaining wall that is west of Castle Village.

    “The city woke up and saw there was another retaining wall they’d better attend to,” said Jeanlee Poggi, the executive director of the West 181 Street Beautification Project. “But it’s rehabilitation. They didn’t really rebuild the wall at all.”

    Craig Chin, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Design and Construction, said the city had spent $14 million on its share of the work.

    For his part, Mr. Pelletier is stoic. “We can get upset, but it had to get done,” Mr. Pelletier said. “But think about it. For our lifetime, that never has to be touched again.”

  12. #42
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Stalled WaHi Construction Plan Leaves Hole in the Ground and Lawsuit in its Wake

    The developer behind One Bennett Park is still looking for funding while the banks work out who owes whom cash.

    By Carla Zanoni

    The bedrock has been taken away at 33-55 Overlook terrace, but no one is sure when or
    whether a luxury condo development will rise in the footprint as previously believed.

    WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — At the height of the real estate boom, a 60-foot high sheet of bedrock was jackhammered away to make room for a 23-story luxury condominium development in Hudson Heights to be called "One Bennett Park."

    But more than two years later, all that remains at 33-55 Overlook Terrace is a hole in the ground, a lawsuit, and a displaced congregation from the local Jewish center.

    Back in 2007, lenders Petra Mortgage Capital and Amalgamated Bank agreed to fund the $95 million development in Hudson Heights proposed by Thompson Development Group.

    Amalgamated was responsible for managing the two company's investments — including the $32 million Petra laid out for the project’s start — but when the developer stopped making payments on the loan in February 2008, Amalgamated foreclosed.

    Petra initiated a lawsuit against Amalgamated on Oct. 28 demanding the bank repay them the $32 million they invested, reported

    A rendering of what developer Ruddy Thompson
    hopes to finish building in Washington Heights.

    Now litigation is pending and there seems to be little hope that work on the project will resume any time soon.

    Ruddy Thompson, president of Thompson Development Group, said one of his biggest regrets is how the impasse has negatively affected neighbors in the area.

    In particular, he cited the Ft. Tryon Jewish Center, whom he had brokered a deal with to renovate their space in exchange for the right to build a condo entrance on Fort Washington Avenue.

    The congregation was displaced during the construction and is now sharing a space with the Hebrew Tabernacle Congregation in Washington Heights.

    "It’s been over two and a half years," Thompson said. "I feel awful about it, but they are a very sweet elderly congregation and they know what’s going on out here with the banks."

    The Fort Tryon Jewish Center did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    As the big banks duke it out over the money initially invested in the project, Thompson said he is still looking for funding and has not given up.

    "My lawyer tells me bankers and investors are out there for existing developments, but for construction there is none," he said.

    Thompson said he believes the neighborhood can sustain a development of this type and believes buyers, perhaps doctors from Columbia’s medical complex in Washington Heights, would still be interested in the development.

    "There has never been a high-rise condo in this neighborhood and there is nothing like this all the way to 110th street," he said. "And what happened to the high-rise projects that went up down there? They’ve all sold out."

    Petra and Amalgamated did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  13. #43
    Fearless Photog RoldanTTLB's Avatar
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    Stupid question, but are there many people reading this thread? I live in the Heights (actually, live is an understatement, I'm the President of the Board of my building...), and I'd be happy to try and keep this thread a little bit more up to date. If anyone ever has any questions about the Heights, I'd be happy to try and field them as well. This is a lovely thread so far!

  14. #44


    I have a cousin who lives in Castle Village. He's helping to pay for the retaining wall P

  15. #45


    "Stupid question, but are there many people reading this thread?"

    I have posted photos of the Castle Village wall repair process on another thread 'somewhere' here on the Wiredny forums. I frequent the area, any chance I get I will take some photos and post here: that area is beautiful.

    I would also be interested in adding some more photographic content to this thread, there is a lot to work with in this area; up-and-comming, lots to great architecture, and the landscape & varied topography. If I find those 'castle village' photos showing the retaining wall: I will post them here for starters.

    Also, I would be interested in doing a wiredny meet-up event with this area as the theme, something like an architectural walking tour, photo session, or Bar-Hopping - whatever.

    Last edited by infoshare; November 9th, 2010 at 11:01 AM.

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