Wednesday, October 31, 2012

☞ DWELL: 30 West 120th Street Back on Market

The former home of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 30 West 120th Street sold for $2.5 million last year and now is apparently back on the market for $2.895 million. This single-family brownstone has one of the most high end, contextual renovations to be seen in Harlem and faces Marcus Garvey Park which garnered one of last year's record sales.  At 18-foot-wide, the townhouse is not quite the golden 20-footer but is in a notable location adjacent to the Mount Morris Park Historic District. More details can be found at the broker site: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Halloween at Shrine NYC

Wednesday, October 31st, 8:00PM, Halloween at Shrine NYC,  2271 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue), between 133rd and 134th Street.  The show will still go on at the Central Harlem concert venue called Shrine tonight with a list of performers on hand and a local crowd that will  be ready to celebrate Halloween.  Another suggestion would be to drop by the sister French-West African restaurant Yatenga which happens to be next door: LINK

Check out the full schedule for Shrine at the official website: LINK

☞ CELEBRATE: Halloween at Mount Morris Park

Wednesday, October 21st, 5:00PM-7:00PM, Trick or Treat at Mount Morris Park, see list of participating townhouses.  New York City's Halloween Parade might have been cancelled this year but kids in Harlem can trick or treat still in the Mount Morris Park Historic District. The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association has put together a list of Trick or Treat friendly houses in the nabe for parents who want their children to participate in the festivities: LINK.

More details can be found at the MMPCIA site: LINK

☞ REVIVE: Hurricane Wind Damage for Harlem

Heavy hurricane winds did the most noticeable damage in Harlem and a couple of Bespoke readers sent in some photos of what needs to be cleaned up in the upcoming week. Trees were see strewn over upper Lenox above 125th Street and the parks had many uprooted.  Construction sites or boarded up storefronts did not escape Sandy's fury also since the plywood flew off most of these buildings (the lower photo is of the old Public fish market building on Lenox).  A small amount of flooding was reported but it appears that hurricane wind damage will take the longest time to fix up.

☞ CONTACT: Got a Harlem Bepoke Tip?

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

☞ EAT: What Harlem Eateries are Open?

We don't have too much detail on the best places to go to after the hurricane but do have a couple of standbys.  Lenox Coffee at 129th Street (just east of Lenox) has been open this entire week and will be serving up their specialty brew along with the standard baked items.  Another place to visit by early evening is Harlem Public which is at 149th and Broadway in West Harlem.  That establishment has also been open all week and serves up some good bar grub (kitchen might be closed because of water wind damage apparently) along with its selection of craft beers.  Does anyone else know of other eateries that will be open for us locals uptown today?

UPDATE: Based on tips coming in on our Facebook site, Il Caffe Latte on Lenox and 119th is Open in the Mount Morris Park Historic District.  The Chipped Cup coffeehouse at 148th at Broadway is open in West Harlem and Mellba's on 114th along FDB/8th Avenue is open in South Harlem.

☞ DWELL: 540 West 148th Street Townhouse

A townhouse at number 540 West 148th Street in Hamilton Heights is now up for sale at the asking price of $1.2 million.  This 2-family home has been fully restored in a modest, renter grade finishes which looks a bit better than most. Brick walls and natural wood add to the warmth of the interior so everything is pretty much straightforward in a non-offensive way. The townhouse is located just east of Broadway and just around the corner from the new Harlem Public which has become the local neighborhood hangout.  There is also the Chipped Cup coffeehouse at this location and the area is starting to finally develop with better local businesses.  Check out more details for this home on Streeteasy: LINK

☞ SEE: Art In Flux Harlem Opening Reception

Friday, November 2nd, 6:00PM-9:00PM, Echoes From Afar A Time To Keep & A Time To Let Go opening reception at Art in Flux Harlem, 1961 ACP/7th Avenue and 118th Street. A dual gallery and collaboration with Filmmaker: Ebbe Bassey; Curators: Beatrice Lebreton and Ibou Ndoye; and Production Manager: Belynda M’bay ​ Artists, Poets, Dancers and Musicians are invited to present work in response to the short film, Siri Oko Fo (Mending Fences) by Ebbe Bassey. ​ In Echoes From Afar: A Time to Keep & A Time to Let Go, artists reveal the importance of the spiritual power of Africa by retaining elements of the traditional world and yet creating a new contemporary vision.  More details on this exhibit can be found at the Art in Flux site: LINK

☞ WEATHER: The Big Hurricane of 2012

Hurricane Sandy has mostly passed through New York City and luckily Harlem was one of the neighborhoods least affected by it all.  Besides the inconvenience of the subways being shut down, not too much else happened except for howling winds and some heavy rain.  Friends in Chelsea, Chinatown, Brooklyn, and Murray Hill have all reported power outages all night and many outer parts of the city have been flooded.  The above map show the evacuation zones in red and most of those areas saw water levels rise at record levels.  Avenue C in the East Village had cars submerged in water and Battery Park faced the same fate since it was mainly built on landfill.  The worst appears to be over and now the city has to face some major cleanup, access the damage done and wait for things to get back in order. Click on image to enlarge

Friday, October 26, 2012

☞ INTRODUCING: Le Maison Harlem Website

The Maison Harlem is not only debuting brunch service this weekend but just launched a nicely styled website. For those not familiar with the new eatery, a nice photo gallery has been provided and contact information for the French bistro at 127th and St. Nicholas has been set up online.  This is also a new establishment that excels in decor, food and service in Central Harlem and is one of our Bespoke recommended restaurants uptown:

☞ DWELL: 123 West 122nd Brownstone

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, October 28th, The 3-family home at 123 West 122nd Street (just west of Lenox Avenue) has been on the market for over a year now and appears to still be at an asking price set around $2.399 million.  This 19-foot-wide brownstone has an owner's duplex garden floor unit, lots of original woodwork and details galore that many buyers have been paying top dollar for.  A South Harlem location close to the Mount Morris Park Historic District and express trains would also be attractive to many potential homeowners.  This Harlem neighborhood is considered one of the most architecturally significant locations uptown and worth taking a look for those not familiar with the area.  More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ EAT: Specialty Sandwiches at Harlem Public

Food service is in full gear at the Harlem Public in Hamilton Heights and the offerings are surprisingly good.  We ventured out a couple of times this week to try some of the notable sandwiches which included the loaded grilled cheese.  This hip update to the classic comes with the requisite melted cheese and then it's all stuffed with homemade chunky guacamole, thick cut bacon and crushed Doritos all sandwiched between two substantial slices of crusty bread.

On a previous outing (some of us happen to hang out at this corner of 149th and Broadway several times during the week) we tried the best seller which is the peanut butter burger.  The thick patty for this order is made from a freshly grounded house blend of beef and comes with brown sugar bacon, melted New York cheddar and a generous slather of peanut butter between the toasted bun.  Our out of town guest mentioned that the burger sounded all wrong but tasted just right.

Both burger and sandwiche included fries and was served up for $11.95 which was okay since they were rich enough to split between two people.  We also give Harlem Public high points for great service which is something many new restaurant or bars struggle with uptown.  For more on Harlem Public, check out our past post: LINK

☞ BESPOKE: The Classic Modern Harlem Bath

Original details have all attracted buyers to some of the record selling townhouses uptown but high functioning chambers such as the bathrooms have to be updated with modern conveniences.  The above photos are some of homes that have sold for $2 million or over in the past couple of years and each has classic design elements to their upgrades.

Marble or mosaic floors are a natural finishing for century old townhouse and each bath has some sort of element that alludes to this.  Subway tiles with border trims either in ceramic or marble are another distinct feature.  Double sinks in a console or cabinet layout also appear to be as popular as the well as the appropriate pedestal sink.  Shower fixture and faucets allude to Victorian lavatory plumbing and multiple cross handles are a must (the less expensive way to configure the plumbing is setting up the single handle variation).

The last photo is an example of modern and contemporary flourishes that also seem to work since it contrasts textures and colors.  Wide, dark slate panels on the wall provide a striking background to the lighter mosaic floor tiles while the pedestal sink and toilet keeps the continuity of the classic aesthetic.  Mosaic floors with this type of greek key border were commonly used in foyers at the turn of the century and some manufacturers still sell them today.

Contemporary elements such as glass tiles, pebble textures and bamboo were considered modern a couple of years back but already look dated. Keeping a washroom updated with electrical, venting and plumbing upgrades are a must but renovating these rooms to match the original details seem to pay off at the end with the brownstone buyer.

For more on these record selling homes, check out our past posts:

30 West 120th Street Brownstone
105 West 122nd Street Brownstone
357 West 121st Street Brownstone

☞ REVIVE: The First Corininthian Baptist Church

The former Regent Theater at 116th and ACP/7th Avenue might finally be going through a much needed exterior renovation.  We noticed that a sidewalk shed has just gone up in front of official landmark that has housed The First Corinthian Baptist Church in recent decades.  This house of worship has raised funds for interior renovations in the past couple of years and it appears that the next phase of facade restoration is close at hand.  The sublime Venetian exterior is one of the most striking in all of Manhattan and might just finally get the attention it deserves.  Check out our past post for an archival photo of when this building was used as a movie house: LINK

☞ SEE: Around Harlem This Weekend

Saturday, October 27th, 5:00PM-7:00PM, Spirits of the Past at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace between 160th and 161st Street.  Enjoy a family friendly event at the Morris-Jumel Mansion on Halloween weekend. Step back in time and interact with the key figures of the Mansion’s past. Hear stories of the Revolutionary War and the lives of the colorful characters who made the Mansion their home. Be careful, you never know who or what you’ll encounter! Tickets are $20 per person, $15 for members and $10 per child. Pre-paid advanced registration is required. Call 212 923 8008.

Saturday, October 27th, 1:00PM-4:00PM, MMPCIA Halloween Parade at Marcus Garvey Park, 124th Street and Mount Morris Park West. The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association presents their Annual Mount Morris Park Halloween Extravaganza which will start off with a parade around the park on Saturday. Fun planned for the neighborhood kids: LINK

Saturday and Sunday, October 27th and 28th,  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, October 27th, 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,  October 27th, 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, October 28th, 7:30PM, COMEDY COVO at COVO's upstair lounge, 701 West 135th Street at 12th Avenue. Come check out the monthly comedy show with some of NYC's best comedians in one of Harlem's most unique lounges at the top of a former railroad station. Sunday night's show will be hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin and features comics Jay Welch, Danny McWilliams, Corrine Fischer, Yameneika Saunders, alongside DJ Chris Washington: LINK

☞ REMEMBER: 7th Ave & 125th c. 1905

An archival image from 1905 shows a north view of 7th Avenue (today's ACP) from the vantage point of 125th Street.  The corner building at the left and the adjacent Alhambra Theater  still exist today  but the buildings on the right corner have been replaced by the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building.  Also notable in the photo are the rather tall trees lining the avenue which were eventually removed at some point in time since smaller trees have been planted on the boulevard in more recent years.

Photo via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

Thursday, October 25, 2012

☞ DWELL: Selling out at The Sedona

Some of the smaller new constructions continue to sell out such as The Sedona in East Harlem.  Streeteasy has the last unit of the building listed in contract and that should have the condo confirmed as fully sold by years end: LINK.  The building at 344 East 119th Street appeared on the market in fall 2010 and based on the 10 previous recorded sales, the units average out at $533 per square foot. We always thought that the area just below East 120th, between 1st and 2nd Avenue kind of looked like the East Village before it was gentrified and folks moving into the area probably have the same sentiments. More details on the official website:

☞ REVIVE: The Hamilton Theater Up for Lease?

A Bespoke reader has informed us that the El Mundo store within the Hamilton Theater in West Harlem will be vacating the space soon. This Thomas W. Lamb building on the corner of West 146th Street and Broadway is probably one of the grandest space in this part of town but has been used for a dollar store in the past decade or so.  As reviewed in our past post, most of the original theater in the back end of the building has not been utilized and appears to be intact still: LINK.

It is unclear what will happen to the theater now but a full restoration to a community performance space would probably liven up this section of town that is only a block away from the 145th Street station.  Does anyone have any idea on what will happen to the Hamilton Theater?  Check out an old photo of the building from 1915 in another previous post: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Food & American Identity at MJM

Saturday, November 10th, 2:00PM-3:30PM, Lecture: From Cappuccino to Jambalaya: Food and American Identity at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace between 160th and 161st Street. It’s been said that one of the most enduring markers of ethnic identity is cuisine. From fast food to slow food and everything in between, we will explore how eating, cooking and even shopping for food are rich social activities. This conversation examines the ways in which food and the act of eating are important ways of defining who we are. The presentation is sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities. This event is FREE but advanced registration is required.  Call 212 923 8008

☞ QUESTION: Ask Harlem Bespoke

If any 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:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

☞ DWELL: 371-373 Manhattan Still in Contract

It has been over a year now and the old church at 371-373 Manhattan Avenue still appears to be in contract.  This property located just right below 116th Street in South Harlem is in a prime location and went into contract last July when the price was reduced down to $1.4 million.  Seeing that the building consist of two former townhouse parcels, one would imagine that this could be quite a deal for the developer or homeowner who wants a lot of space but somehow this transaction does not seem to have worked out just yet.  Does anyone have any more information on what is going on with th sale of the former house of worship?  More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ READ: Harlem School of the Arts in the News

                                                                           Photo courtesy Buck Ennis
A Crain's article reports on the recovery of the Harlem School of the Arts which now has some notable stars of the arts world helping out.  Choregrapher Twyler Tharp has  joined on with Afro Latin jazz musician Arturo O'Farrill as part of the teachers in residence program at the acclaimed uptown school.   The duo will be renting space at the 141st Street facility and will also teach or perform in the coming months.  Harlem School of the Arts was on the brink of closing a couple of years back but community activism and new leadership has now placed the institution back on its feet.  Read more in Crain's: LINK

☞ REVIVE: Lights on at 220 St. Nicholas

A Bespoke reader mentioned that the lights over at the stalled 220 St. Nicholas condo development in South Harlem have been turned on at night and wondered what was going on.  New permits have not been posted on the DOB website yet for this building at West 121st Street but one commenter reported that a new team has stepped in to turn around the project.  Architects have reported been seen on site along with a cleanup crew.  Does anyone have any more details on 220 St. Nicholas?

☞ INTRODUCING: Mount Morris Halloween Parade

Saturday, October 27th, 1:00PM-4:00PM, MMPCIA Halloween Parade at Marcus Garvey Park, 124th Street and Mount Morris Park West. The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association presents their Annual Mount Morris Park Halloween Extravaganza which will start off with a parade around the park on Saturday. Fun planned for the neighborhood kids — and the young at heart! Parade Prep!

Sign up for the Costume Contest and Stretch the Sillies out with Harlem Yoga Studio. Costume Parade Contest begins in front of the Marcus Garvey Park Toddler Playground at West 124th Street and will follow the lead of the Grand Marshall. The spooky group will make its way in and around Marcus Garvey Park. Be sure to bring your noise makers, drums, rattles and whistles!

Costume Contest categories include: Babies, Children, Adults — and back by popular request — Pets*!

7-Alarm Halloween Fun. The FDNY and the NYPD are getting ready to compare their uniforms with your costumes. Best dressed might even get to make the horns blow on the fire truck and police car!  More details on the MMPCIA site: LINK

☞ CONTACT: Got a Harlem Bepoke Tip?

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

☞ DWELL: 141 West 123rd Street Brownstone

Number 141 West 123rd Street has just appeared on the market for the initial asking price of $2.2 million.  The 19-foot-wide former SRO was converted into a 3-family home in the past couple of years and features a lot of dramatic original details but modern bath and kitchens.

Sometimes this combination works but most of the best selling houses uptown have more continuity within the interiors.  With that said, the renovations appear to be on the higher end and the location in the proposed Mount Morris Park Historic District has a lot of architectural merit along with shops and express subway transportation nearby.  There is also a half finished shell next door (up for sale) to this townhouse so the buyer would also have to be able to put up with construction activity in the future.  More photos and details on the broker site: LINK

☞ EAT: Brunch Service at Maison Harlem

Maison Harlem at 341 St. Nicholas Avenue has quickly become a popular dinner destination in Central Harlem and now the bistro has announced brunch service will officially start this Saturday.  Brunch should be quite notable since the eatery on the corner of 127th Street gets our Bespoke vote for most charming interior along with having great food and service.  Call 212.222.9220 for further inquiries.  Get more updates and support Maison Harlem via Facebook: LINK

☞ REVIVE: Renovations at the Mink Building

The Mink Building in West Harlem went through some major renovations on the east wing this past year and now all the scaffolding has gone down.  Walking past this section of 126th by Amsterdam recently, we noticed that brand new arched doorways have been installed on the lower floors.  An art studio called Chashama has been housed here for several years but now the installation can be seen in full view.  There's still a lot of space to be rented here but nothing major has come along as of yet.  Check out the old images of this historic building when it was Harlem's major beer factory over a century ago: LINK