Monday, October 12, 2009

☞ DWELL: 111 Central Park North Condos

The most expensive apartment building in Harlem (an $8 million penthouse was one of the record sales) is a good example on how condo living can get complicated for buyers if the developers do not have vision over their desire to make a large profit. Case in point is the retail space on the the ground floor of 111 Central Park North, which has been empty for quite some time and has finally opened up a Subway chain sandwich shop. Its next door neighbor is a deli that is new and modern but far from any luxury aesthetic.

The folks who spent millions on their condos are now worried that the large corner retail space in the building will go to McDonald's since they are at the mercy of the building's owner on all decisions pertaining to the ground floor spaces. Worried that the big M's arrival might portend even further downward property values in the building, The Post reported in August that there have been talks among residents of the building to pool their money and to rent out the ground floor corner space of the building as storage. This scenario mirrors what happened to the star architect-designed Phillip Starck condos in Chelsea, which indeed got a McDonald's on their ground floor.

In our opinion, this wildly successful, height-of-market building could add to its value if the developers worked with local businesses on rent discounts to provide the right type of institution at this corner of the park. Instead of a super-luxe McDonald's, a local restaurant such as Sylvia's could be a great gateway for visitors coming into Harlem. Of course, there would have to be rent incentives and maybe lower rent than expected. At the end, it would increase the value of the building and dress up the surrounding area, but maybe that's too much to ask for if there is a profit loss. Photos by Ulysses


  1. i agree. i've been overwhelmed by the number of chain banks, pharmacies and fast food places that are opening in many of the new developments. it makes sense because only these large companies can afford the rents. the developers will need to definitely reach out to local small businesses as you suggest if we don't want to see more of this trend.

  2. "the right type of institution..." this language is discriminating on a basis of class (and perhaps race). This is "code speak" saying " institution that's a magnet for Black and Brown people of lower financial means, is it not? This is the very development that employed blatant RACIST tactics in the marketing of it, this was well documented even in the NYT (their promotional graphics & renderings always had people, lots of them, however no black or brown people in images...of a Harlem development). The "gateway" for anyone coming to Harlem @ 110th and Lenox is "project city" just up a few blocks on the East side of Lenox and going East for Blocks, and Blocks, and Blocks. That's the gateway, like it or not. Those project with their Central Park views and low income earners are not going anywhere.

    The people that bought into the hype of Harlem and 110 CPN know their property today would sell for about 30% less than what they paid. Yes, it's a fantastic building with incredible views, but the buyer "bet wrong" on Harlem gentrification. 8th Ave, yes, anything near or around CU expansion, yes. 110th & Lenox? No. Why not? The sheer density of the underclass prevents gentrification of anything right behind 110CPN. Plus the stupid Harlem law of serving alcohol withn x feet of a church or school kills Lenox Ave whereas 8th ave. does not have anywhere close the amount of churches and schools.

    It's great that there is the subway right there, but that's about it, all that's there. I love the building though, and plan on buying a unit in 2012 or so, for about 50% of the original price the unit sold for in '07. Do you recall that sale at the Normandy 3 months ago on Lenox & 119th where the owners lost 30%+ in 3 years? By 2012 we'll be seeing prices in Harlem at about 50% of their '07 prices, in certain areas that suffer in lack of amenities, etc. Furthermore I give the first wave of buyers (or suckers) of 110CPN about 4 - 5 year before they flat out can't take it anymore. Take What? Most people that pay $2M for an apt. in Manhattan want 3 or 4 dining options literally on their block! Real dining, not Subway! They want everything on that block, not 5 - 8 blocks away when it's 20 freakin degrees outside! Not only do i hope they get a McDonalds..I hope they get a check cashing place, a african hair braiding weave central center, and a rehab clinic that mirrors the clinic next to Loft124! I hope the get a magnet for evert underclass element there let these people know, they invested in Harlem and the thousands of project dwellers are their neighbors! Welcome to the neighborhood!

  3. Off topic a little here but referring to Lenox Avenue, I was pleasantly surprised with the recent HOAST (Harlem Open Artist Studio Tour), the surprise being such a well established and vibrant artist community in South Harlem, who knew. Now with the many new boutique establishments peppering Lenox Ave., seems like history repeating itself, think Soho downtown but with arguably better architecture. This building does serve as the gateway to Harlem via Lenox Ave. hope the residents get some sway into the choice of tenant, this being such a great location with Central Park right across the street.

  4. Look for 111 CPN in the upcoming film "Did You Hear About The Morgans?" starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. I have no idea what use they made of the building, but they shot there last spring. It'll be interesting to see if they used it as a stand in for a downtown building...

  5. It seems luxury buildings in Harlem have become an active trend. I have written a blog regarding this and would like to talk to more residents of Harlem to get their take on whether or not this is a good or bad thing. Please visit my blog at and let me know also if I you are willing to further discuss.

  6. What is wrong with mixed income levels? Chelsea & ues are boring & sterile