Friday, August 31, 2012

☞ DWELL: 261 West 121st Street Brownstone

OPEN HOUSE: Tuesday, September 4th, 5:00PM-6:00PM.  Number 261 West 121st Street is located right around the corner from the FDB corridor and close to subway but used to be a former SRO. Apparently the 17-foot-wide house has been gut renovated in moderate finishes and will be ready as a 4-unit condo when all the paperwork finally gets approved. There's not much detail in this one but it appears to be turnkey.  Asking price is currently at $2.2 million. More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ REVIVE: More at 301-303 West 125th Street

We walked by 301-303 West 125th Street today and noticed that the floors are going up quickly.  It was only yesterday that basement level was completed but nothing could be seen beyond the plywood fence at the corner of FDB/8th Avenue.  The crew at hand is apparently working quickly since a full floor level has risen in the past 24 hours.  This should begin the more dramatic phase of the commercial building's construction since all the ground work has been finished and the actual building will be materializing day by day.

☞ BESPOKE: Rooftop Topiaries on Lenox

A townhouse in the Mount Morris Park Historic District of lower Lenox Avenue has been restored in the past couple of years and now has a few green details in place.  Walking by the block between 121st and 122nd Street we noticed that a rooftop terrace was in place with charming topiaries on deck.  The geometric greenery always add a little classic charm to an outdoor space and the trimmed trees are especially interesting peeking out of the top of this historic piece of architecture.

☞ EAT: Jin Ramen in West Harlem

The ramen shop called Jin opened up just below 125th Street at Broadway this year and has generally been receiving good reviews so we decided to check it out.  Modest ramen restaurants are standard in Japan and now populate many of downtown's trendier neighborhoods as of the past few years. Jin has the distinction of being Harlem's first ramen-ya. Don't confuse this eatery's offerings with the instant kind one finds at the grocers since the noodles are hand-made and everything else is overseen by a chef on site. Tonkotsu pork broth is the most popular choice at ramen shops in the city and Jin provides a good execution along with tender cha siu slices of pork that accompany the dish.

The service is also very efficient here which is a plus since lines have been known to form outside during the weekends.  As far as the decor goes, the interior has some interesting elements to it but also tends to be inconsistent in some areas.  Overall, this is a good addition to the neighborhood and proves that restaurants that fill a void uptown can be successful if all the key pieces are in place.

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Friday, August 31st, 7:00PM-8:30PM, Jazzmobile at Marcus Garvey Park, Mount Morris Park West and 122nd Street.  Jazzmobile's free concerts continue at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater within Marcus Garvey Park.  This weekend's performance features Geri Allen: LINK

Saturday and Sunday, September 1st and 2nd,  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, September 1st, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, The Morningside Park Farmers Market at 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue. Drop by the corner of 110th and Manhattan Avenue to check out what's in season at the Morningside Park Farmers Market. These local markets only grow and improve with community support so make sure to visit each Saturday: LINK.

Saturday,  September 1st, 8:00 AM-4:00 PM, The Mount Morris Park Historic District Farmers Market at 122nd Street and Lenox. The Mount Morris Park Historic District Farmers Market returns for 2012 at a new location right on Lenox Avenue.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

☞ ARCHITECTURE: A Proposal for 110th & FDB

The gas station at the corner of FDB/8th Avenue and 110th Street/Central Park North is in a middle of ownership land dispute with the city but one developer has come out to reveal a proposed plan for the site.  A Read Deal article has revealed that an architecturally ambitious design which reminds us a little of Frank Gehry is one of the main contenders 13,500-square-foot site facing the park. Nothing has been officially approved yet but talks about having the Studio Museum in Harlem opening up an additional cultural space as the anchor tenant apparently is in the works: LINK

This developer has the ambitious goal of breaking the $2,000-per-square-foot mark with this new condo development if all goes through but there still is that lawsuit that has to be resolved before anything happens: LINK

Rendering courtesy of The Real Deal

☞ REVIVE: 301-303 West 125th Street Rises

The new retail building planned on the corner of 125th Street and FDB/8th Avenue is definitely the fastest rising new development uptown these days.  Concrete was being poured for the foundation earlier this past month and looking at 301-303 West 125th Street in the past week, we noticed more activity at hand.  Steal pilasters have been shipped in recent days and one can now peek behind the fence to see that the basement level has been finished.  The first floor is starting to rise now and folks should expect to see a dramatic change at this corner in the next few weeks.  Check out the final rendering of the building in our past post: LINK

☞ SHOP: New Awning at Harlem Food Bar

Several of the newer buildings along the lower FDB corridor have standard matching awnings which are rather bland but Harlem Food Bar recently broke this trend.  Storefronts and awnings add visual diversity to the commercial landscape of a neighborhood but when buildings insist on matching awnings and fonts for their retail tenants, things can look a little clinical.  Most of the time, the said matching awnings are shallow and almost always a neutral green.  Now that Harlem Food Bar at 114th Street has an outdoor seating area, the popular restaurant needed some overhead shade for their guest.  Luckily the condo agreed to let this happen and the end result is a more striking, eye-catching street corner than the previous setup.

☞ READ: Hamilton Heights House in the Journal

The Wall Street Journal has an article on a West Harlem townhouse up for sale and how the current owner renovated the interior with family living in mind.  Number 626 West 147th Street was purchased by a downtown finance executive who wanted to move away from her Battery Park home after September 11th back in 2001.  Purchasing the house for $600K, the homeowner raised her son in the townhouse and currently lives in the space with her mother.  About $1.3 million was spent in restoring the building which has a marble bathroom modeled after the ones found at Claridge's in London. The townhouse is going for $1.875 million now which is just about breaking even for the owner who is moving back to Long Island to be closer with family since her son has moved out of the house: LINK.

Check out more details on this house in our past post: LINK

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Harlem Bespoke also has a Twitter account for those who want daily updates about stuff that's happening in the neighborhood. If you Twitter, check out our Harlem tweets and join here: LINK.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

☞ DWELL: BLVD Condos Go Rental

BLVD condos debuted back in October 2011 but has now apparently gone rental after not being able to sell units in the adaptive reuse development.  This two-building new construction at 2192 and 2196 Frederick Douglass Boulevard has a total of 26 apartments that were originally priced in the high $200K to the mid $300K.  Most of the other lower FDB buildings have been selling and only have a few units left but BLVD never took off.  According to Streeteasy, the entire development was sold to a new developer in June for $3.7 million and now six units have been successfully rented: LINK.  BLVD appeared to be the right price for entry level buyers and had a great location so what went wrong?

☞ DRINK: Happy Hour at Jado Sushi

Walking by Jado Sushi on FDB/8th Avenue and 115th Street last night, we noticed that a new Happy Hour has arrived at Harlem's first Japanese owned Sushi eatery.  Folks uptown like a good early two for one drink special and most of the newer businesses on the lower FDB corridor eventually provide this service after opening to draw in the early crowds during the week from Mondays through Fridays.  Read more about Jado Sushi in our past post: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Comedy Night at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Wednesday, September 5th, 8:00PM, The Harlem Social Club at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 700 West 125th Street at 12th Avenue.  The Harlem Social Club's local comedian Oscar Collazos joins Jessica Miller and the Bodega Cats for a night of comedy this September.  Guest acts will also feature the comedy of Carmen Lynch and Sergio Chicon. Check out more details on the Harlem Social Club facebook site: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Harlem ArtWalk 2012

The popular Harlem ArtWalk sponsored by Casa Frela has set a date for this year.  Over 80 local artist will be featured this fall as part of the self guided tour set up for October 6th and 7th from Noon to 6:00PM.  As in the past, participants will be handed out the Harlem ArtWalk maps at the Casa Frela gallery on 47 West 119th Street and will be able to guide themselves to various local artist studios.  More details will be posted in the next month but those who want to learn more about Casa Frela should go to the official site: LINK

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Send any tips and especially photos over our way if you have stories on your section of Harlem:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

☞ DWELL: 101 Hamilton Place Townhouse

A 16-foot-wide townhouse at 101 Hamilton Place has returned on the market for the asking price of $2.29 million. This 2-family West Harlem home does not have any original details in it but appear to have had a thorough gut renovation with some better finishes involved. The block is about a 5 minutes walk away from the 1 train or the express at 145th but does not have much happening in the immediate area as far as amenities are concerned.  More details can be found on Streeteasy: LINK

☞ SHOP: The West Harlem Farmers Market

We just walked by the West Harlem Farmers Market at West 137th and Broadway which will be around on Tuesdays every week during the warm weather season.  Central, South and East Harlem already have Farmers Markets set up so it was a pleasant surprise to see this one finally arriving at this section of Hamilton Heights.  Those interested should check this one out at the 137th Street 1 Station exit on the east side of the Avenue.

☞ READ: The Chipped Cup in the News

A recent Crain's article features The Chipped Cup and talks a little about how Hamilton Heights if finally starting to transform by opening better shops.  West Harlem has some of the best scenic blocks and architecture in Manhattan but The Chipped Cup is the first decent coffee shop to arrive in the neighborhood.  The proprietors of the popular new business actually worked a deal out with the landlord for reduced rent since it would help out both parties.  At the end, the building got the upgraded business they were looking for and the startup was given a chance to flourish in the early months.  More can details can be read in the Crain's article: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Jazzmobile at Grant's Tomb

Wednesday, August 29th, 7:00PM-8:30Pm, Barry Harris at Grant's Tomb, West 122nd Street and Riverside Drive.  Jazzmobile continues its free Harlem summer concert series and will feature Barry Harris this week at the outdoor plaza in front of Grant's Tomb.  This is one of those true uptown events where all the neighbors come out and listen to an evening of free music. All concerts are weather permitting and subject to change. More details at:

☞ SEE: Reimagining the Waterfront at MCNY

Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan's East River Esplanade at The Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at East 103rd Street. Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan's East River Esplanade features visionary redesign proposals for the East River Esplanade, a narrow strip of land between the FDR Drive and East River, between 60th and 125th Street. Currently, the site offers a continuous promenade and bike lane with shoreline views, but it also suffers from neglect and decay as well as the challenge of the neighboring highway.

 To inspire city residents to think boldly about the site’s potential, CIVITAS, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Upper East Side and East Harlem, sponsored an ideas competition in the fall of 2011, inviting architects, landscape architects, and city planners from around the world to submit creative and original proposals for the site. Their submissions ranged from transforming the East Side into a system of canals to returning to the area to its original marshland. The exhibition features the eight winning designs as well as photographs of the site through history and today. Through October 28th: LINK

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Monday, August 27, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Voodoo Macbeth at the Lafayette

What's left of the old Lafayette Theatre might be demolished soon so we are reprinting this previous article so folks don't forget what it meant to Harlem's cultural history.  Check out Harlem historian Jonathan Gill's insight on the Lafayette in the previous post: LINK

A brilliant production of Macbeth was shown at the Lafayette Theatre back in 1936 that would place Harlem theater on the national stage along with the career of a young, talented director. Orson Welles received some major notoriety by taking this version of Macbeth and setting it in Haiti while keeping to the original Shakespeare script. This play would also be known as Voodoo Macbeth and attract 10,000 locals to line the streets  for the premier night at the 1,223 seat theater. The production would eventually have an extended run and tour the country after its Harlem success.  Photo via Library of Congress

☞ DWELL: 181 Lenox Still on Market

Number 181 Lenox Avenue has been on the market since last November for the increased asking price of $3.99 million. This 25-foot wide landmark corner townhouse at Lenox and 119th Street used to be the Indigo Arms bed and breakfast but is technically a 3-famiy townhouse with 8,500 square foot of space. That's basically $470 per square foot for a renovated building but buyers do not seem to be interested at this price tag since townhouse sales in Harlem have only reached the $3 million mark this past year.  With that said, this is an unusually large house in a convenient historic district so this might eventually be a record breaker in the future.  More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Sundae Sermon Serves it Up

We stopped by the Sundae Sermon dance party at Morningside Park this past Sunday and was pleasantly surprised to see such a large community turnout.  This free annual summer event reminds us of that famous Seurat painting (which is also a Sunday portrait) and was hosted by local DJ Stormin' Norman.  Everyone was out at the top lawn of the park to picnic and enjoy the music.  We were impressed with the diversity at this event since it was not only family friendly but also gay friendly at the same time.  It does not look like another Sundae Sermon will happen for quite awhile but those interested should keep up to date on the official website: LINK

☞ SEE: What's Happening at Marcus Garvey Park

Tuesday, August 28th, 7:30PM, What's Happening at Marcus Garvey Park, (Richard Rodgers Amphitheater: Behind Pelham Fritz Recreation Center, Mt. Morris Park West at 122nd St.).  Maysles Cinema presents a free summer outdoor screening of one of their classic documentaries. What's Happening is a humorous, freewheeling and candid account of The Beatles' arrival in America in February 1964. The Maysles brothers follow the Fab Four for five days, from the crazed JFK airport reception to unguarded moments inside the Plaza Hotel in preparation for their landmark Ed Sullivan Show appearance to their equally frenzied homecoming: LINK

☞ SHOP: High and Low at 111 Central Park North

The condo development known as 111 Central Park North has been trying to get better anchor tenants in at the lower commercial spaces facing the park and the results apparently have been mixed.  An $8 million penthouse sale back in 2008 makes this building one of the most expensive addresses to live in uptown and   homeowners in the building have tried to block chain stores such as McDonald's from arriving in the past: LINK.

A couple of commercial spaces in the building facing Lenox Avenue has since been leased out to Subway and a deli but all eyes have been waiting for what will arrive at the Central Park storefronts.  On the higher end, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center has established itself at the one of these shops but the prime corner space has now been leased to Duncan Donuts.  A Starbucks would have probably looked better at this prime location but somehow that coffee chain decided to pass on the park views.

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Viewed Posts

Below is the list of last week's most viewed posts and comments.

1. What's up with 186 Lenox? (8)
2. Harvist Arriving at the Kalahari (12)
3. The Griffins of Sugar Hill (1)
4. Signs up at Maison Harlem (7)
5. 125th and Lenox circa 1950 (4)
6. Public Art at 51 Madison (5)
7. Papa Juan Cigar Room (3)
8. 353 West 121st Street Reduced (3)
9. Free Class Week at HSA
10. Cove Lounge Opens Today? (22)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

☞ DWELL: 108 West 131st Street Brownstone

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, August 26th, 12:30PM-1:15PM.  A gut renovated 2-family house in Central Harlem at 108 West 131st Street is currently listed for $2.29 million.  This 18-foot-wide home has a contemporary renovation to it and is located on a solid brownstone block around the corner from upper Lenox where retail is slowly transforming.  Express trains are close by at 135th Street and 125th Street is a five minute walk south.  More information can be found on the broker site: LINK

Friday, August 24, 2012

☞ REVIVE: What's up with 186 Lenox?

A sidewalk shed has appeared this past week at 186 Lenox Avenue so could it be that this landmark building will finally get a much needed restoration?  This section of the Mount Morris Park Historic District located between 119th and 120th Street has some of the most distinguished buildings uptown but yet the owner has  not made any repairs to them in quite some time.  DOB permits were filed this week for the shed in preparation for work to be done to the townhouse but there does not appear to be any other information published on what will actually take place.  Any tips out there?

☞ EAT: Signs up at Maison Harlem

More activity was happening over at the yet-to-open Maison Harlem space when we walked by this past week. The new eatery at 341 St. Nicholas Avenue has been busy working on the interior but the facade at the corner of West 127th Street just got a bit of an update.  Classic red lamps have just arrived out front and the subtle signage for the restaurant's moniker has also been added in a matching hue.  This French restaurant looks to be the opening to watch out for this fall in Central Harlem and the finishing details appear to be coming along nicely.

☞ INTRODUCING: Studio 323 in East Harlem

New York Magazine has a design feature on one Parson's Alumn that opened a gallery for local artist at 323 East 108th Street.  The designer transformed the former hair salon by adding wood paneling and cast iron details to the facade for a classic look.  A drop ceiling was removed from the interior to reveal the original tin ceiling.  Check out more photos in New York Magazine: LINK

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Friday, August 24th, 7:00PM-8:30PM, Jazzmobile at Jackie Robinson Park, 148th Street and Bradhurst Avenue.  Lynette Washington performs at Jackie Robinson Park this weekend as the free summer concerts continue: LINK

Friday, August 24th, 7:00PM-10:00 PM, Uptown Fridays at the Studio Museum Cafe, 144 West 125th Street. Uptown Fridays at the Studio Museum will feature DJ Reborn next weekend. It’s more than a DJ and dancing—it’s an opportunity to connect with artists, curators, collectors and critics at the center of black art and culture. Admission includes a guided gallery tour of one of the Studio Museum's current exhibitions, dancing in the courtyard and cocktails. Tickets to Uptown Fridays: Studio Museum Members: $15.00, Non-Members: $20.00. For more information and to RSVP:

Saturday and Sunday, August 25th and 26th, 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, August 25th, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, The Morningside Park Farmers Market at 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue. Drop by the corner of 110th and Manhattan Avenue to check out what's in season at the Morningside Park Farmers Market. These local markets only grow and improve with community support so make sure to visit each Saturday: LINK.

Saturday, August 25th, 8:00 AM-4:00 PM, The Mount Morris Park Historic District Farmers Market at 122nd Street and Lenox. The Mount Morris Park Historic District Farmers Market returns for 2012 at a new location right on Lenox Avenue.

Sunday, August 26th, 3:00PM-7:00PM, Sundae Sermon at Morningside Park, 114th Street and Morningside Drive.  Sundae Sermon is a great free afternoon of dancing to soulful deep house, disco and afro beats with a family friendly, feel good vibe in Harlem's Moringside Park. Sundae Sermon's mission is to support the spirit and strengthen the Harlem community by providing a platform to pormote environmental, educational and recreational family friendly activities in a healthy, casual environment:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

☞ DWELL: First Contract out at The Nicholas

The Nicholas at 753 St. Nicholas Avenue arrived on the market this summer and the first contract has been signed according to Streeteasy: LINK. This new construction located just below West 148th Street is located in the Sugar Hill Historic District and offers studios to 2-bedrooms with price ranging from $229K-599K. As far as location goes, the express train is just right down the block and the neighborhood is quite charming but still up and coming. Check out the units on the official site:

☞ BESPOKE: The Griffins of Sugar Hill

A row of townhouses on West 148th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue have distinct cast iron stoops but we also noticed some rare etchings above the doorways.  Out of the five matching portals, one will notice that half of them still have intricate griffins engraved above the entrances.  It is unclear if the other buildings had this detail at one point in time but one would assume that the original architect probably designed all of the homes to match. Click on images to enlarge.

☞ INTRODUCING: Public Art at 51 Madison

The renovation project at 51 Madison has only really left a skeleton of the building's former grandeur but at least one local artist is attempting to make this corner of 125th Street look better.  We walked by the Raymond Building this week and noticed a local artist at work on the surrounding plywood. This mural definitely looks better than the said renovations at hand which stripped the building of most of its exterior ornamentations: LINK.  Does anyone know who this local artist is?