Friday, December 19, 2014

DWELL: 17 WEST 120TH STREET OFF MARKET

Number 17 West 120th Street on one of the most spectacular blocks in the Mount Morris Park Historic District has been removed from the market in less than two months.  This 3-family home with an initial asking price of $3.75 million apparently had a contract out an interested buyer just weeks after the townhouse arrived on the market but was back up for sale shortly after.   Record closing prices in Harlem at the high end have been hovering just below $3.4 million this year so this would have been the top sale of 2014 if it would have gone through.  More on Streeteasy: LINK

REVIVE: BACK AT THE LAFAYETTE RESIDENTIAL

The new construction taking up the entire block of 7th Avenue between 131st and 132nd Street is quickly coming to completion.  We walked by in the past week and noticed that the 140-unit building pretty much has the facade up except for a narrow strip on the side towards the south corner.  Out of those apartments, there will be 115 units at market rate and 25 units will be for low-income families.  A church purchased this property decades ago and has now leased the land to a developer but we wished that the famous building formerly on site could have been restored as part of deal: LINK

☞ QUESTION: ASK HARLEM BESPOKE

If any of the readers out there have a question they would like to throw out to the Bespoke audience on neighborhood organizations, restoration services, property search or history, just send them over and we can possibly have it written up as a future post: HarlemBespoke@gmail.com

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NUMBER 8: UPPER LENOX AVENUE

Our popular HB series that ranks the top uptown neighborhoods is back for the end of the year count in 2014. Harlem is a large part of Manhattan that changes block by block so we have put together a list of the best micro-nabes based on location, architecture, transportation, local amenities along with record closing prices when applicable. This is our own opinion based on reporting on the neighborhood for a few years and a new post will be made each day until the number one spot has been revealed.

Number 8: Upper Lenox Avenue, Central Harlem, between 125th Street up to roughly 132nd Street and the immediate brownstone side streets, not counting Astor Row.  Upper Lenox maintains the Number 8 position this years since brownstones tend be more modest in the area and some of the blocks still are a little rough around the edges.  With thats said, more of the shells are being bought up and the small empty lots are finally being sold for new developments.  West 126th Street also is finally getting fixed up these days and more residential units should be available by this time next year.

As previously mentioned, the best thing about upper Lenox is that it is the heart of Harlem with many shops and a really great proximity to the express train on 125th Street.  With Red Rooster as the modern anchor and old school favorites such as Sylvia's attracting foot traffic, one can find lifetime locals, new residents, tourists, gay couples and even a hipster or two.  Notable dining options did not really materialize this year especially since a new location for Lenox Lounge never happened but we expect the commercial spaces to get better by 2015 since the housing stock will be in even better shape.   Then there is the Whole Foods which just might just actually open just at the southern borders once the building starts rising in the next few months.

BESPOKE: DINING WITH A SIDE OF TELEVISION?

Walking by the Columbia campus recently, we passed the new Bernheim restaurant thinking maybe it would be an interesting spot to hang out since the establishment was named after a Harlem brewery in Manhattanville. The interior is set in the trendy early century mode in the style that is popular downtown or in Brooklyn these days but then the illusion is broken by vistas of massive television screens.  We also noticed the same at the revamped Unione up in Hamilton Heights which would have otherwise been a pretty charming interior.

Call us old fashion, but it appears to us if one wants to emulate the better restaurants in the city, then that should include not having screens meant for folks who want to catch up with the game in plain view.  The reasons are clear because there is a bar crowd that is attracted to watching events but making a point to be either a better dining establishment or a basic bar should be one of the first things businesses should make a decision on.  In our observations over the years, having both rarely helps a restaurant build a strong reputation as a place to have a great meal.