Friday, April 29, 2011

☞ DWELL: 56 East 126th Street Condo

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, May 1st, 11:00AM-12:30 PM at 56 East 126th Street.  The garden-level, duplex condo unit in the brownstone between Park and Madison offers up brand new interiors on a block of brownstones in various transitional conditions.  There's over 2,200 square foot in total with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths spread out between two levels. A couple of shells still remain in the immediate area that need renovations and not much better retail can be found but the location is less than 2 blocks away from the 4,5,6 express and the stores at 125th Street.  This townhouse condo has been on the market for the past couple of months with a current asking price set at $850K and monthly common charges at $1,100 for the unit.

☞ SHOP: Restaurant & Retail Month at Harlem Flo

Harlem Flo located on 2292 FDB and 123rd Street also has a shopping deal for Harlem's  Restaurant & Retail Month at the featured price. The last photo shows the specialty bouquet floral arrangement that is available for the total of $20.11 until May 15th so make sure to drop by this weekend and support one of the local businesses.  More information on the bespoke Harlem specialty florist can be found at the boutique's website: LINK.  All photos by Evi Abeler

☞ INTRODUCING: Chill Berry Arriving on Lenox

The north corridor of Lenox above 125th Street is starting to see some retail action happening again since the Red Rooster opened last year. A reader sent in a photo of the long-vacant Soup Man space at 414 Lenox and it looks like a frozen yogurt store is about to open up soon. Chill Berry appears to be a local version of another famous yogurt chain and will take over the storefront just south of 131st Street that has been empty for over two years now. A branch of Ambassades will also debut at 127th Street and an under construction lounge is prepping up closer to 126th.  These new establishments within a half dozen blocks will join a restaurant row which also includes Sylvia's, Chez Lucienne, Jacob's and La Perle Noir cafe

☞ READ: From Harlem to the Royal Wedding

Folks might have noticed Harlem high school graduate Denton John riding behind the Queen's carriage this morning in full uniform. The 23-year-old New Yorker went to Wadleigh on 114th Street but also has British citizenship since John was originally born in Grenada.  After joining the British Army straight out of high school, the former schoolboy from Harlem is now part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and is directly responsible for protecting the Queen of England.  More in the Daily Mail: LINK.  Photo via CNN

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

April 29th-May 1st, Friday-Sunday, 10:00 PM-5:00 PM,  Ain't Nothing like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment at Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street.  Last chance before the exhibit closes to see the history of the Apollo at MCNY: LINK

April 29th-May 1st, Friday-Sunday, Full Bloom at Conservatory Garden, 105 Street and Fifth Avenue. There's finally a sunny spring weekend forecast so check out the blooming orchards on the East Harlem side of Central Park which should be at peak now: LINK

April 29th,  African Film Festival at Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Avenue at 127th Street. Maysles Cinema will be showing a selection of short and feature length African films from April 29th through May 1st. Times and Tickets available at the organization site: LINK

April 30th, 1:00 PM-3:00 PM, Family Writing Workshop at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace at 160th Street. Children can learn how to create a great historical fiction story about the Morris-Jumel Mansion at this FREE workshop. Advanced registration is required. Call 212 923 8008.  More details at the MJM site: LINK

Sunday, May 1st,3:00 PM, Harlem Chamber Players present the Spring Finale Concert, St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 521 West 126th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam. The Harlem Chamber Players present the Spring Finale Concert of their 2011 season, an all French program featuring Harpist Brandee Younger. Tickets are $15-$10 for students and seniors and are available online or at the door: LINK

Thursday, April 28, 2011

☞ DWELL: Units Selling at 239 West 135th Street

A reader had inquired about the seemingly stalled condo at 239 West 135th Street and now it looks like that Central Harlem new construction has started to sell. The subway at St. Nicholas Park is about less than two blocks away from this location but the immediate area between FDB/8th and ACP/7th does not have a lot of retail.  One would have to go to north or south ten blocks to get the basics but that is just one stop on the train.  According to Streeteasy, absolutely zero units sold in 2009 when the development went on the market but the latter half of 2011 saw selling pick up: LINK.  A total of six units have sold, one more is in contract and five are currently available at the FHA loan approved dwelling. Sales prices appear to be a decent $597 per square foot and common charges are in the upper $100 to $300 range depending on the size of unit.

☞ EAT: Restaurant Month at Chez Lucienne

Another classic eatery on the Harlem Restaurant and Retail month list is Chez Lucienne located at 308 Lenox and 125th Street.  The $20.11 Prix Fixe offers up some French classics like Escargot de Bourgogne (photo) and a choice of second course such as Croque Monsieur. There doesn't seem to be a day restriction on this offer so drop by Harlem's first authentic French bistrot before Restaurant month ends at May 15th. All photos by Evi Abeler.  More details on this restaurant can be found at:

☞ SHOP: Flowers at Wild Olive Market

An excited reader notified us about  the above new flower stand in front of Wild Olive market on 125th Street and 5th Avenue. There are quite a few florists uptown but surprisingly not many places to just grab a quick bouquet when on the go (Bet Yet Market is the other one). The Wall Street Journal mentioned last week that this part of East 125th Street was starting to turn around with better shops like Island Salad opening up and the new major development happening further east: LINK.  As for the new vegetarian restaurant on the block mentioned in the story, we think think they are talking about the new Uptown Juice Bar location at 14 East 125th Street which still has not progressed much since December: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: PS90 Receives Moses Award

A press release has announced that PS90 received the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award this past Wednesday. Named for Lucy Goldschmidt Moses, a dedicated New Yorker whose philanthropic gifts benefitted city parks, hospitals, schools and cultural institutions for more than 50 years, the annual awards are the highest honors bestowed by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Central Harlem's adaptive reuse 1905 school-to-condo conversion is in the esteemed company of a group of award winners that include the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Belasco Theater at 111 West 44th Street, Urban Assembly New York Harbor School at Governors Island, and Liberty Tower at 55 Liberty Street. Check out gallery of winners on the New York Landmarks Conservancy site: LINK

☞ READ: Harlem Going to the Dogs?

A DNAinfo article posted yesterday has Harlem literally going to the dogs these days. The story here is that the new neighborhood pooches are of the pampered sort and one local pet shop even started to stock up on organic pet food.  Folks have apparently been attracted to the areas by Harlem green spaces such as Marcus Garvey Park and Morningside Park for the convenience of the established dog runs. There is even pet grooming service that just started up at the aforementioned Posh Paws boutique on FDB and 114th Street for those who are interested: LINK.  Check out the gallery of Harlem pet owners at DNAinfo: LINK.  Photos by Ben Fractenberg

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

☞ DWELL: 1990 Madison Sold in April

The 20 foot wide SRO brownstone at 1990 Madison and 127th Street has finally sold.  This building had gone in-and-out of contract in the past year and had been marketed back in 2009 for the asking price of $995K.  A major issue with the property was that a previous certificate of non harassment had expired and the adjacent boarded-up, corner brownstone (although renovated at one point) had reported issues with squatters on site.  After several price reductions, public records now show that number 1990 finally closed for $525K

☞ SHOP: Restaurant & Retail Month at Levain

Levain Bakery at 117th and FDB/8th Avenue is also participating in Harlem Restaurant and Retail month until May 15th.  The deal here is that six assorted cookies can be bought at the discount price of $20.11 based on the following specifications: LINK.  From the top photo, one can see the baseball-size cookie dough being prepped on site and each one can basically feed two people.  All photos by Evi Abeler

☞ REVIVE: Manhattanville Foundation End Date

Signs have been posted all over the demolition site of the new Columbia Manhattanville campus at far West 125th Street and more recent ones have announced another upcoming milestone.  Earlier in the year, it was revealed that the demolition and abatement would wrap up by Summer 2011 and now it looks like the basic foundation work will take some time going forward.  According to a sign posted up on one of the plywood walls on the south side of the site, it appears that all of the groundwork will not be completed until Fall 2013 so not much will be rising in the next couple of years.

☞ INTRODUCING: Inside the New Ambassades

A reader was able to get a photo of the work in progress at the new Ambassades Buffet when walking by this week and things look to be coming along. The second branch of Les Ambassades which is just north of 127th at 341 Lenox seams to be a little more intimate in nature than the big volume buffets that are popular locally. It does not appear to be very large but there's a bit more character here than the average takeout place.

☞ SEE: Grant's 189th Birthday at Grant's Tomb

April 27th, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM, Grant's 189th Birthday Celebration, Grant's Tomb at 122nd Street and Riverside Drive.  Join the National Park Service in celebrating General Grant's 189th Birthday.  Costumed re-enactors will demonstrate how soldiers lived and fought during the Civil War on the north side of the memorial.  As part of the living history program, there will also be black powder demonstrations periodically from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM, where re-enactors will fire an array of weapons similar to the ones used by Civil War Soldiers. A special ceremony in honor of Grant's birthday will take place beginning at 11:00 AM that will feature the presentation of the colors, several speakers - including a member of the Grant family, a wreath laying and a 21-gun salute.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: 152-154 East 118th circa 1932

An old photo from around 1932 shows a frame house that used to be located by Lexington Avenue and 118th street but also reveals something else that still is actually around today.  Right by the next door lot just east of 118th Street, a substantial Ginko tree can be seen planted out front and today that tree still remains.  The lower photo shows the community garden that the tree has now flourished in and also the new development that has taken over the spot where the wood house disappeared from long ago.  This Ginko was pretty big back then and now is probably the tallest plant in the area. Archival photo courtesy NYPL

☞ DWELL: 532 West 150th Street Townhouse

It's only been on the market for the past 3 weeks and we thought that there would be time to review the available townhouse at 532 West 150th Street but it appears now that the Hamilton Heights property is currently in contract as of yesterday. The single-family house just east of Broadway is only 15 foot wide and a good 6-8 block walk to the subways on 145th Street but will probably sell because it is one of the best designed properties uptown.  Kitchen and baths are even tastefully done in marble which is a difficult task to achieve since most folks tend to overdo it in the wrong way.  At the initial asking price of $1.475 million, there's a lot of details to be had even though the location is a bit further north. This is also a good example of keeping the original aesthetic of the interior but adding a slight update to make it modern.

☞ EAT: Restaurant Month at Bier International

Harlem Restaurant & Retail Month will be happening through May 15th and the Prix Fixe menus for the price of $20.11 will still be happening as the weather gets warmer.  Bier International at 2099 FDB/8th Avenue and 114th Street has lunch and dinner 3-course specials from Monday-Thursdays (click on menu for details) so make sure to drop by in the next couple of weeks.  For more offers and participating restaurants, check out the event site: LINK.  Photos by Evi Abeler

☞ REVIVE: Progress at Former M & G Diner

One of Harlem's oldest diners closed a couple of years back and now it looks like the storefront is going through its last leg of renovations. Facade work started just last month and now all of the yellow paint has been removed from the corner building at 383 West 125th Street that used to be the home of M & G Diner (center photo). The iconic sign is still somewhere under there but we noticed that the original diner interior had been totally gutted when peeking through the plywood out front this past weekend.  This retail space is apparently available so the fate of the old fashion signage is still up in the air.

☞ INTRODUCING: Beacon Towers at 90 Percent

Some recent press reports that 90% of units are sold or under contract at the Beacon Towers affordable cooperative development in Central Harlem. The 8-story, newly constructed building at 29 West 138th Street between Lenox and 5th Avenues, is comprised of 73 residences which were developed as a direct response to the need for affordable housing in New York City.  According to Streeteasy, most of units sold in the past year and five contracts are currently out along with seven available units: LINK

Of the seven remaining units, six are reserved for middle income families and average prices are $275,000 for one bedroom homes and $378,200 for two bedroom homes. One market rate unit is also available for the price of $499,000 for a two bedroom apartment. Construction is complete with immediate occupancy available and no board approval required. The salary cap for qualifying for the income-restricted units at Beacon Towers is at $192,000.  More details can be found at:

☞ READ: Glass and Prewar at Mount Sinai

There's an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on how the luxury condo market is currently focusing on prewar details and eschewing glass: LINK.  Some recent new developments which have used the classic aesthetic have sold out quickly in a slow market and glass towers are apparently now seen as less of a novelty these days.  A former faculty building of Mount Sinai Hospital at 1212 Fifth Avenue (foreground of top photo) at 102nd Street will market 57 units as luxury condos facing Central Park in the coming weeks and the developer has spent $47 million in the restoration. The renovated sixteen-story building will help subsidize the new adjacent Mount Sinai hospital wing being built which also has a glass residential tower rising on top of it.  Interestingly enough, the more glass side of the complex on the next avenue over does not have any prewar elements going for it since the hospital block on Madison is mixture of postwar styles which also includes a few public housing buildings (lower photo).

Monday, April 25, 2011

☞ DWELL: 209 West 121st Street Sold in April

One of the restored townhouses on 121st Street just west of ACP/7th Avenue has finally sold as of a few weeks ago.  It appears that 209 West 121st Street exchanged ownership based on public records for the amount of $960,735 in total.  The 16 foot wide, 3-family building has about 3,584 square foot altogether and is a part of a set of townhouses restored in the past couple years but have not fully been occupied. Another building to the left of the sold property still has plywood up on the front door the but basically has been completely renovated otherwise.