Thursday, May 31, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: The Dwyer circa 1980


Those who want to see what some of Harlem's historic buildings looked like in the 1980s should check out the NYC tax photo archives that are now available on line: LINK.  The above image is that of the Dwyer building at 264 St. Nicholas Avenue at West 123rd Street as it stood when it was abandoned decades ago.  A worker had a fatal accident in the building when a developer was trying to restore it a few years back and the city had the entire structure demolished.  Not all was lost for the new condo that arose on the spot basically took the footprint of the original and made it into a modern version of the old warehouse. Check out more archival photos in our past post: LINK

☞ DWELL: 1889 Lexington Reduced Further

The once most expensive SRO building on the market in East Harlem has reduced its asking price once more in the first quarter or 2012. Number 1889 Lexington Avenue is an occupied building with 8 units that was up on the market for $1.25 million back in summer 2011, reduced to $800K by December and currently is set at $699K.  The shabby building is surrounded by some new construction at East 117th Street and is close to the subway stop on the corner of 116th Street. This is one of the last remaining brownstones in the area that faces the avenue and will obviously need a lot of work to renovate.

☞ EAT: Lining Up for New Harlem Eateries


The Harlem Food Bar opened up this past Friday with a packed crowd and a line of diners forming outside to get in.  This is sort of a new phenomenon uptown and newcomers such at the Corner Social on Lenox and the Harlem Tavern on FDB have also had the same excitement build up especially on the weekends. What do they all have in common? Moderately price offerings, a well designed interior and great word of mouth from locals have made these businesses instant successes uptown.  Most uptowners have traveled downtown in the past to go out dining at better establishments but now it appears many of the new eateries are fulfilling a much needed void in the neighborhood.

Top photo via the Corner Social facebook site

☞ SHOP: Whole Foods Has Plans on Harlem

The arrival of Whole Foods in Harlem has been quite a myth as of the last couple of years but now news has it that the company's co-CEO has directly confirmed the chain's plan to set up shop uptown in a press conference yesterday.  John Mackey let it slip that Whole Foods was indeed opening up in Harlem but the official word today from corporate is that the option is just being explored for future locations. Whole Food's arrival uptown has all been rumors set up by mostly developers at this point but now the company heads have come out and confirmed that this could actually happen.  Read more on Curbed: LINK

☞ MEET: Coffee Bark at St. Nicholas Park

Saturday, June 2nd, 9:00AM-11:00AM, Coffee Bark at the St. Nicholas Park dog run, St. Nicholas Avenue, closer to 136th Street. Coffee Barks are monthly events for dog owners to meet one another, and discuss issues and volunteer opportunities in the dog run. They are held on the first Saturday of the month at the St. Nicholas’ Dog Run. Coffee, donuts, and other refreshments are provided: LINK

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

☞ DWELL: 5th on The Park Over 85 Percent Sold

The spring selling season worked out for 5th On the Park at 1485 Fifth Avenue by 120th Street and a recent press release announced that high rise adjacent to the Mount Morris Park Historic district is now over 85 percent sold. After selling the most units in Harlem in 2011, the development has continued its impressive sales pace, selling 49 apartments since January – the majority of those taking place just in the last thirty days. The remaining units at 5th on the Park are comprised of spacious studios, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, many with private outdoor space. The units range in size from 666 to 2,386 square feet and in price from $475,000 to $1,725,000. Immediate occupancy is available for purchasers. For a list of all available units, visit: www.5thOnThePark.com.

☞ SHOP: Trunk Show Consignment to Debut

A couple of tips have come in about the Trunk Show Designer Consignment shop that appear to be ready to open at 275-277 West 113th Street in South Harlem.  This designer consignment shop just around the corner from FDB/8th Avenue appears to having a grand opening event on Saturday June 2nd from 6:00PM-10:00PM based on an invite for the event: LINK

☞ ARCHITECTURE: An Old Detail at 2066 Fifth


The townhouse building at 2066 Fifth Avenue was replaced by a new construction but not all was lost.  As  Bespoke readers have pointed out, it appears the developer wanted to save at least a little of the past and kept the original stoop attached to the decidedly modern building.  It is sort of an interesting gesture to remove so much of the facade and then decide to keep a small portion of it intact.  Check out our past post to see what the building by West 127th used to looked like when it was a shell: LINK

☞ READ: Second Applebee's Planned for Harlem

The Applebee's on 125th Street proved popular with locals when it arrived a few years back and now the chain restaurant will have a second location in East Harlem according to New York magazine.  An empty lot located at 509-513 East 117th Street will have a new building constructed on it and will sit directly adjacent to the Target at the East River Plaza.  Read more on this Applebee's in NY magazine: LINK

☞ CONTACT: Got a Harlem Bespoke Tip?

Send any tips and especially photos over our way if you have stories on your section of Harlem: harlembespoke@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: 240 Manhattan Avenue circa 1941

Before the taller buildings in the area came along, the corner of 110th Street by Manhattan Avenue and FDB/8th Avenue used to be a basic looking New York neighborhood.  The elevated tracks would have just been taken down at this corner by Morningside Park and the train tower would still remain next door at this point in time. By the time the 80s rolled around, new towers would be constructed over on FDB and number 240 Manhattan Avenue at the corner of the park would succumbed to demolition a little over two decades later.  A new tower will rise up on the spot in the next couple of years and once more the cityscape changes.  Photo courtesy of the digital collection at NYPL

☞ DWELL: 351 West 120th Sold for Asking

Apparently the house at 351 West 120th Street that went into contract quickly belonged to Marcia Gay Harden and has now closed for the orginal asking price of $2.75 million. The Oscar winner raised her family at the 18-foot-wide house covered in ivy for almost 10 years but has recently divorced and thus the house sale. This single-family home located a block away from Morningside Park is another record sale for Harlem within the mid two million range and the picture perfect interiors along with the townhouse's notable pedigree probably helped: LINK.  Read more in the Observer: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: A Church Preaches Acceptance

The Times has an article on one Harlem church that welcomes the LGBT community and worships every Sunday at West 139th Street. Many note that traditionally conservative black churches heavily condemn the LGBT community but the Rivers at Rehoboth congregation does the exact opposite.  Members who have been shunned at their former churches now have a place uptown to worship and some of their family members have chosen to join the congregation as a show of support. Read more in the New York Times: LINK

☞ REVIVE: A New Look for 240 Manhattan Ave


The plans for a 22-story condo tower on the corner of 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue have finally been revealed.  There have been permits for a new construction posted up on the DOB site for the past year but a rendering of the project did not come about until recently when architects GF55 published the final design on their website.  This open lot facing Morningside Park has been vacant for several years and will now be one of the largest new developments to start up in the past couple of years in South Harlem.  Activity on the site has already started in the past month so expect the 88-unit building to finish up in January 2014: LINK

Rendering via the GF55 website

☞ SEE: Mafrika Music Festival 2012

Sunday, June 24th, 6th Annual Mafrika Music Festival at Marcus Garvey Park, 120th and 5th Avenue. The date for the 6th Annual Mafrica Music Festival has been set this year and folks will be able to see various genres of music performed by African/World musician at this series of free concerts.  More details can be found on the Shrine site: LINK

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Friday, May 25, 2012

☞ DWELL: Ralph Ellison House on the Market

There's not a lot going on with open houses this weekend but an interesting listing has just appeared on the market.  The former home of Ralph Ellison at 749 St. Nicholas Avenue and 147th Street has now gone up for sale at the asking price of $1.9 million.   This townhouse is the center building of a trio that appears to have been designed by the same architect but the Ellison house seems to have lost the bay window portion at some point in time.  Apparently the multi-family building has quite a few units in it which the broker fails to clarify and the property is 19-foot-wide in total.  A gut renovation of the interior came about  a few years ago but everything is pretty much renter grade based on what we can tell from photos.  More details and photos can be found on Streeteasy: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Celebrating Bob Marley

Two Harlem venues will celebrate the uptown screening of Marley at Maysles Cinema by having a DJ event which will feature the music of Bob Marley. DJ Elbow Grease will be spinning classic Marley along with Lover's Rock and soul.  More on the Marley screening can be found at the Maysles site: LINK

Friday, May 25th, 9:00PM, Marley After Party at Billie's Black, 271 West 119th Street between St. Nicholas and FDB/8th Ave.

Sunday, May 27th, 9:00 PM, Marley After Party at Bier International, 2099 FDB/ 8th Ave between West 113th Street and West 114th Street.

☞ SHOP: La Casa Azul Bookstore Opens in June

La Casa Azul bookstore in East Harlem will be celebrating its grand open on June 1st at 143 East 103rd Street from 6:00PM-8:00PM.  Aurora Anaya-Cerda has had an online business but has spent the past four years trying to open an actual storefront for the Latino-focused literary shop and found funds to open the business through online donations.  Read more in Publishers Weekly: LINK

☞ EAT: Harlem Food Bar Serves it Up





Harlem Food Bar opens today at 5:00PM for dinner service but the Bespoke crew was able to get a preview of the new eatery on FDB/8th Avenue and 114th Street last night.  The menu for this American bistro is right on point with a selection that is mostly around $12 and the food offerings did not disappoint.  Highlights include a seriously good sampling of the burgers being served up which might actually be the best ones we have tried uptown and the mac & cheese squares which disappeared quickly.  Restauranteurs Scott and Ernie aim for a casual dining experience with quality food but also have a full wine selection along with bartenders that can mix up a specialty drink. The staff was also charming and attentive so expect great service from this South Harlem newcomer. www.HFBnyc.com

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Saturday and Sunday, May 26th-27th, 6:00AM-6:00PM, Harlem Treasure Chest Flea Market, 117th Street and FDB/8th Avenue.  South Harlem's first flea market arrives just in time for the warm weather.  Check out the offerings from local antique vendors this weekend: LINK

Saturday, May 26th, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, The Morningside Park Farmers Market at 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue. This weekend will be the first day of the year for the Morningside Park Farmers Market so drop by the corner of 110th and Manhattan Avenue to check out what's in season. These local markets only grow and improve with community support so make sure to visit each Saturday: LINK.

Saturday, May 26th, 7:00PM-9:00PM, Know Gays Aloud: What Would You Say? at Art For Change, 1699 Lexington Avenue, between 106th & 107th Street. Art for Change hosts a night of Open Mic, SpokenWORD performance poetry and Music to highlight the current exhibit Know Gays Aloud: Violence in the LGBTQ Communities of Color. Featuring performances by Nicole Goodwin, Olivia Ayes,Lankin Tamil Blood a.k.a "YaliniDream," Jendog Lonewolf, Tom Rizzuto and Tina Himaya. More details on the Art For Change site: LINK

Sunday, May 27th, 1:00PM-2:00PM, Gallery Tour: Shift: Projects|Perspectives|Directions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th Street. Enjoy an interactive and informative tour of Shift: Projects | Perspectives | Directions led by a knowledgeable Museum educator. Shift includes focused presentations of work by Nayland Blake, Jennie C. Jones, Lorraine O’Grady, John Outterbridge and Jacolby Satterwhite, as well as a new iteration of The Bearden Project and Highlights from the Permanent Collection. The tour will have something for everyone: adults, families and kids of all ages are welcome! RSVP on the Studio Museum site: LINK

Sunday, May 27th, 8:00 PM, Jazz Sundays at Harley's Smokeshack, 355 East 116th Street, west of First Avenue. East Harlem's newest BBQ joint debuts live jazz on Sundays starting this Holiday weekend. Check out the Harley's website for more details on weekly events: LINK

Thursday, May 24, 2012

☞ DWELL: Selling Out at the St. Claire


The St. Claire at 2077 Fifth Avenue and 128th Street failed to sell any units back in 2008 but now appears to be on its way to being completely sold out. A new developer bought the building in 2010 and has since re-introduced the condo to the market with steady success.  Based on Streeteasy,  the last two remaining units are now in contract and the average is set around $563 per square foot for this East Harlem development: LINK.  Check out the building's website for more details:  www.StClaireCondos.com

☞ REVIVE:What's Up with St. Thomas the Apostle?

St. Thomas the Apostle at 262 West 118th has been closed for several years now but not much has happened since local politicians blocked a plan for its demolition to make way for affordable housing.  A Bespoke reader who has a view of the unofficial landmark from their apartment provided the following observation:

 "I've noticed business people hovering around the past month or so. The other day a group of them went into the old rectory portion with the groundskeeper. Then, today, I was walking my dog and saw a group of them with blueprints of the church, and the groundskeeper unlocked the gate and let them in. I asked the super/groundskeeper if they were doing work there and he said 'yes' but didn't want to offer any more info. I tried to look up work permits online but I couldn't find anything recent."

Does anyone have any tips on what's happening with St. Thomas?  Read more about this local landmark and see original photos in our past post: LINK

☞ SHOP: Tyler Miggins on Lenox

Tyler Miggins debuted his rack of antique clothing for the season on lower Lenox Avenue this past weekend. Mr. Miggins is known in the neighborhood as he local vintage vendor who sells his collection in front of Il Caffe Latte just north of West 119th Street in the Mount Morris Park Historic District. The roving rack of womenswear arrives every Sunday from noon to sundown for those who want to check it out.

☞ READ: Demographic Shift at Local Colleges

A New York Daily News article discusses the demographic shift that has been going on in the past ten years at local colleges in the city.  Current freshman at City College in Hamilton Heights now have more white an Asian students representing a (slight) majority of new enrollment on campus while other minority groups have decrease. Officials state that the report neglects the fact that more black and Hispanic students are graduating from senior college at a record levels because many within those minority groups transfer to CUNY colleges after freshman year: LINK

☞ SEE: Marley at Maysles Cinema

May 21st-May 27th, 7:30PM every night for one week only,  Marley at the Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox at 127th Street.  Bob Marley's universal appeal, impact on music history and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. Marley is the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best.

From Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald (One Day In September, The Last King of Scotland) comes the story of a towering figure of musical history, whose music and message has transcended different cultures, languages and creeds to resonate around the world today as powerfully as when he was alive. More details and $10 tickets may be found on line: LINK

☞ CONTACT: Got a Harlem Bespoke Tip?

Send any tips and especially photos over our way if you have stories on your section of Harlem: harlembespoke@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Sailors in Harlem circa 1939

Fleet week has started for 2012 so we took a look back in 1939 at a photo of a couple of sailors hanging out at a restaurant in Central Harlem. The archival image has the location as 7th Avenue at 143rd Street and the two visiting sailors appear to be hanging out at a local diner that used to be situated at that particular storefront.  This eatery apparently was called Gray Shop No. 2 based on the signage and the awning.

Sid Grossman, Federal Art Project 1939 via the digital Collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 133 West 122nd Street Sold in May


Number 133 West 122nd Street went into contract back in February and records now show that the house in the Mount Morris Park Historic District has sold for $2.2 million.  The most recent asking price was set $2.395 million for the 17-foot-wide townhouse with the Queen Anne style facade and apparently a notable novelist is moving in very soon with her husband: LINK.  This single-family, five bedroom, five bath, 4,500 square foot building has all the modern underpinnings with the original details intact. Express 2,3 trains are close by at 125th Street and the boutique shops of the Mount Morris Park Historic District are only a block away. More details and interior photos can be found at the broker site: LINK

☞ READ: Museum for African Art Delayed Again

The new A.M. Stern condo building at 1280 Fifth Avenue might have renamed itself One Museum Mile but the actual museum on the ground floor needs another $10 million to finish up.  This would be the fifth delay in three years for the Museum for African Art's opening and additional fundraising is apparently needed.  Thus far $86.3 million has been raised for the new institution so there appears to be a lot of donors out their helping the museum along.  Read more about East Harlem's newest cultural center in Philanthropy.com: LINK

☞ REVIVE: New Scaffold for 243 Lenox Avenue


A new scaffold went up again at number 243 Lenox Avenue in the Mount Morris Park Historic District and this just might be the year that the landmark brownstone receives a final fix. This brownstone is the last one to be restored on the block just north of 122nd Street and the two adjacent buildings have had complete gut renovations in the past couple of years.  New permits have been filed in the past couple of months and it appears that the facade is basically the part that needs the most help at this point in time.

☞ MEET: Harlem Hospital Annual Public Meeting

Saturday, June 2nd, 10:00AM-12:00PM, Harlem Hospital CAB Annual Public Meeting, Harlem Hospital's 2nd Floor Art Gallery at 506 Lenox Avenue (at 135th street).  Harlem Hospital's Community Advisory Board is having it's Annual Public Meeting on June 2nd from 10:00AM-12:00PM with breakfast at 9:00AM. The theme is "Reintroducing Harlem Hospital: Our Successes and Our Future".  The public is welcome to participate and see what is happening currently at Harlem Hospital and what to expect looking forward.

☞ EXERCISE: Land Yoga One Year Anniversary

Saturday, June 16th 2:00PM - 4:00PM, One Year Anniversary party and Open House, 2116 Frederick Douglass Blvd.  Land Yoga celebrates its one year Anniversary with an open house for the public which will feature farm fresh food by Red Rabbit, raffle prizes, demos,  discounts and live music.

Live Music at 3:00PM by Roshni a unique fusion of musical styles with Indian instruments and influence and solar powered abilities.

Music will be followed by a special presentation and raffle drawing! New and old friends welcome. Bring your kids: LINK

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

☞ DWELL: 537 Manhattan Avenue Brownstone

Number 537 Manhattan Avenue was on the market back in 2009 for $1.9 million but has since returned with a the new asking of $2.299 million.  Located between 122nd and 123rd, the 15-foot-wide, 2-family house is located on a pretty stretch of Manhattan Avenue and Morningside Park is only a block away. Although the home is in good condition and has some original detail inside, it is also located next to an empty lot that has been  up for sale for quite some time. Transportation via express trains and the FDB corridor are relatively close to this address.  Check out more details on the broker site: LINK

☞ REVIVE: The James A. Bailey House Update

We have been wondering about the renovations of the James A. Bailey House over on St. Nicholas Place and West 150th Street and the owners kindly reached out to us and provided an outline of the work currently at hand:

"The original slate roof was disintegrating badly and leaking for many years, causing damage to the interior, and requiring a new slate roof. The slate work is being performed by "Short Slate", using time-honored traditional slating methods. We are currently waiting for the observatory dormer windows to be constructed and installed before Short Slate completes the roof work. In case you were wondering, the original observatory windows were replaced with non-historic aluminum windows about a decade ago. Wanting the house to be historically correct, and in good stead with the LPC, we poured over historical photographs and visited Reed's sister house in Cortland NY, (now the 1890 House Museum), and worked with architect Joseph Pell Lombardi to draw new windows. Mike Kershaw of "Wood Window Workshop" is constructing the new observatory windows; they will look identical to the 1888 originals.

Every detail on this project is important to us; we want the craftsmanship to be of superlative quality for this highly visible and much appreciated Harlem Landmark. We are grateful for the encouragement patience of everyone in the neighborhood. Hopefully we can remove the scaffold by the end of this year."

As many may know, this is the mansion that the partner of the famous Barnum and Bailey circus built in 1886 but has mostly been a funeral home for several decades know until it was sold back in 2009: LINK

☞ SHOP: The Morningside Park Farmers' Market

The end of May is the start of farmer's market season and the Morningside Park Farmers' Market has a start date of May 26th for 2012. This outdoor market runs every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM throughout the warm weather season and will have a couple of new booths this year including American Pride Seafood from Long Island. Check out the Community Markets site for more information and see the full list of vendors: LINK.

☞ EAT: Harlem Food Bar Opens This Friday

After initially listing an open date mid week, the Harlem Food Bar has informed us that they will be officially open for dinner hours on Friday, May 25th.  The eatery located just south of West 114th Street appears to be ready to go with all the final details intact and a classic, American bistro menu that has mostly everything around the $10 range. Check out the menu offerings on the official HFB website: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: The Chipped Cup

West Harlem's Hamilton Heights has some great housing stock but better shops are just slowly coming into the retail scene.  The under construction Harlem Public pub on Broadway at 149th has everyone excited recently and now a new cafe called the Chipped Cup will be opening up in the area sometimes in June.  Apparently the address is top secret at this point but all clues point to the Broadway corridor somewhere north of the 145th Street subway station.  A Facebook site has been set up for now: LINK

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Monday, May 21, 2012

☞ DWELL: 15 West 131st Street in Contract

The 2-family house at 15 West 131st Street has been on the market since the middle of March and went into contract the in the first week of May. Located just west of Fifth Avenue, this 15-foot-wide home (at center) has been gut renovated in the minimalists fashion and has the stipulation that the buyer must use it as an owner-occupied residence for the first 7 years.  An asking price of $925K appears to be the right range for this Central Harlem property since a contract went out within 2 months.  Check out more photos and get additional details for this house on the the broker site: LINK

☞ SHOP: Old School Awnings in Central Harlem


Old storefronts aesthetics are returning in Central Harlem and two of the most popular new businesses have been putting them to use during the brighter day of the season.  Lenox Coffee at 129th Street just opened six months ago and now has a striped black awning for the benches situated out front of the classic shop located around the corner from Lenox.  A nice touch to this particular awning can be found with the scalloped edges at the overhanging section at the front edge.

Walking by the busy Corner Social this weekend at 126th Street, we noticed that a contrasting white awning was pulled out to provide shade for the packed outdoor seating on Lenox during one of the warmest days of the season. These traditional type awnings are not only functional but also make the businesses more visible by visually extending the line of the storefronts further out onto to the sidewalk.