Friday, November 30, 2012

☞ DWELL: 141 West 123rd Street Brownstone


OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, December 2nd. Number 141 West 123rd Street has just appeared on the market for the initial asking price of $2.2 million and is ready to move into.  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.  The key thing to this house is the decent location by the Mount Morris Park Historic District which is close to a lot of amenities and the express subway stops.  Some of the finishes in the reno seem a bit on the too contemporary side but switching out lighting fixtures, appliances or tiles should be easy enough. 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 once that property sells.  More photos and details on the broker site: LINK

Check out our past post for details on some of the best selling updated kitchens to be found uptown: LINK

☞ REVIVE: More Progress at 115th and FDB


The abandoned old building at 115th and FDB in South Harlem has been empty for some times now but construction apparently in picking up relatively quickly on this renovation project.  Dumpsters were seen out front a couple of weeks ago on the site and a Bespoke reader just sent in a photo of a large crane lifting building materials into the upper windows.  If all reports are correct, expect new market rate rental units to arrive in this area of South Harlem within a year or so.

☞ INTRODUCiNG:Lynn Leiberman at Lenox Coffee


Local watercolor artist Lynn Leiberman now has an exhibit up over at Lenox Coffee on 129th Street and Lenox Avenue.  The artist is well known locally for painting Harlem architectural landmarks or storefronts and the new coffee shop in Central Harlem is actually featured in one of the more recent pieces.  Find out more about Lenox Coffee on the official facebook site: LINK

☞ QUESTION: Are Shell Owner's Accountable?

A Bespoke reader who lives in Central Harlem sent in the below question about dealing with negligent brownstone shell owners on the block.  Any advice out there?

I moved onto the block 10 years ago and the entire time the brownstone two doors down from me has been uninhabited. The owner has made no effort to maintain it or the sidewalks. It is used as a dumping ground and urinal by passersby, and often reeks offensively. It is crawling with rats and other varmints. I'm attaching some photos so you can get a sense of how it normally looks. She has received thousands of dollars worth of sanitation tickets but they have not made an iota of difference.

My question is what recourse do we have in such an instance? I know other cities have blight laws, but we don't seem to have that here. The owner's unwillingness to maintain her property is affecting rest of us who must deal with the stench and garbage and the slippery sidewalks when she doesn't shovel or salt in the wintertime. We have written letters to the mayor's office and have had no response. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

*Above photo is not the the property in question but a typical shell found on some blocks.

☞ SEE: Around Harlem This Weekend

Saturday, December 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, December 1st,  4:00PM-6:00PM, Annual Holiday Concert at the Morris-Jumel Mansion,   65 Jumel Terrace, between 160th and 161st Street.   The annual Holiday Concert offers Renaissance and Baroque works by the Mansion’s ensemble-in-residence, Brooklyn Baroque (Andrew Bolotowsky, baroque flute; David Bakamjian, baroque cello; and Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord), joined by Well-Tuned Words (Amanda Sidebottom, soprano; Erik Ryding, lute) and guest soloist Jonathan Woody, bass-baritone. Tickets are $25 per person and $20 for members. Advanced registration is required. Call 212 923 8008.

Sunday, December 2nd, 1:00PM. Free Sunday Tour at the Studio Museum in Harlem,  144 West125th Street. Enjoy an interactive and informative tour of Fore with a knowledgeable museum educator. Fore is the highly anticipated fourth installment of the Studio Museum’s “F” series, which includes Freestyle (2001), Frequency (2005–06) and Flow (2008). Like its popular and critically acclaimed predecessors, Fore is a non-thematic group presentation reflecting a multitude of ideas, approaches and processes. The tour will have something for everyone: adults, families and kids of all ages are welcome: LINK

Thursday, November 29, 2012

☞ REVIVE:Developer Purchases Hamilton Theater


The Real Deal reports that a known developer has purchased the Hamilton Theater in West Harlem along with an adjacent properties for $19 million.  A dollar store recently moved out of the space at this corner of West 146th within the Broadway corridor in the past month and rumors have it that the lower level will be renovated. This theater was finished in 1913 and is an official New York City Landmark so let hope the new investor fixes up some details such as the missing cornice and the street level entrances to match its former glory. West Harlem appears to be the next happening place uptown these days since it is one of the more under developed sections of Harlem.  Check out more on the story in the Real Deal: LINK

Archival photo courtesy the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 156 West 120th Street in Contract


Number 156 West 120th Street arrived on the market in October for $1.695 million and is now in contract. The 17-foot-wide, 3-family townhouse in the proposed Mount Morris Park Historic District extension has all the plumbing and electrical upgraded but the interior finishes appear to be renter's grade.   With that said, much of the higher end homes in the are are going for north of $2 million and picking out better quality lighting, sinks, flooring and appliances is much easier (and cost affective) than a full gut renovation.  Original woodwork seams to be all intact and this South Harlem location is very near to express trains, boutique shops and all that is happening on 125th Street.  More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ SHOP: Supermarket to Debut at Lexington Hill


The Lexington Hill condos (originally the Glass Spire) at 1635 Lexington Avenue reportedly had a supermarket planned for the ground floor and that now appears to be happening.  We walked by the brand new development just next to the 103 Street subway stop on Lexington Avenue and noticed that the ground floor space seems to be finishing up with the final touches before opening.  Restaurants such as the Lexington Social, East Harlem Cafe, El Aguila and El Paso are located within the surrounding blocks so everything seems to be coming together for this part of East Harlem.

☞ DRINK: What's Up with Body Lounge?

The club called Body Lounge just north of 135th Street and 12th Avenue has been shuttered for some time now but it looks like they might be opening again in the near future. New signs had been placed out front during our last visit to this industrial part of West Harlem and the doors were partially open.  Does anyone have a tip on what's going on here?

☞ SEE: Jacolby Satterwhite at the Studio Museum

Thursday, November 29th, 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM,  Performance by Jacolby Satterwhite Reifying Desire: Model It at the Studio Museum in Harlem Main Gallery, 144 West 125th Street. Jacolby Satterwhite combines video, 3-D animation and drawing in his immersive installations and performances. In Reifying Desire: Model It, on view in Fore, Satterwhite appropriates and traces his mother Patricia Satterwhite's drawings—inspired by household objects and consumer goods—into his videos' digital landscape.

Satterwhite makes connections between his artistic practice and his mother’s, in the process constructing psychological and cultural matriarchal lineages. Juxtaposing live performance and recorded documentation, Satterwhite also investigates the relationship between between reality and the virtual world. Throughout the November 29th performance, Jacolby Satterwhite will activate his new work Reifying Desire: Model It (2012), performing a movement piece in the Museum's main galleries animating his two-channel video installation: LINK

☞ 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: HarlemBespoke@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

☞ REVIVE: Dave's Memorial Garden

                                                                                   Click on garden rendering to enlarge
Donations for Dave's Memorial Garden in Hamilton Heights have now reach $1,660 out of the $5,000 goal. Harlem Public has sent in the above sketch of the garden design which will include weeping cherry trees, viburnum, roses, lilacs, and other mixed meadow plants as rendered by landscape designer Peter Simms.  As mentioned previously, this community garden located within the grassy Broadway avenue median between 148th and 149th has been approved by the Parks department.  Harlem Public (which has already secured additional funds privately) will be dedicating the green space to the owner's recently deceased father. There are only 12 days left, so donate via Indiegogo and receive gifts from the local businesses in return: LINK

☞ DWELL: Columbia Housing for West Harlem



UPDATE: This building will house some of the residents displaced by Eminent Domain over on the Manhattanville campus.

Columbia University will be building affordable housing in Hamilton Heights.  Rumors had it that the block of storefronts on Broadway between 147th and 148th Street's west side would eventually be a Columbia University building have now been verified.  Permits on the plywood fence out in front of the site has plans laid out for a 12-story building at 3595 Broadway that will take up the full block in West Harlem.  Excavation machines are currently on site and posted information has the project being completed by Fall 2014.  The above rendering comes directly from the CU development website: LINK.  Columbia's Broadway  presence will be fully linked with this development since Hamilton Heights is the only neighborhood that does not have a major CU building located within it.

☞ EAT: La Fonda Tapas in East Harlem


La Fonda Boricua closed down after being in business for 16 years but it seems now that the old El Barrio eatery has just reinvented itself.  The famous Puerto Rican restaurant made the news when it shuttered over a year ago and rumors had it that a tapas bar would take over.  From the looks of it now, it appears that everything has been polished up over at the space on 106th Street just east of Lexington Avenue but the restaurant is still called La Fonda.  Classic striped awnings and more formal woodwork frames storefront and the interior has a warmer appearance to it.  Has anyone stopped by yet?  Apparently this was the best place to get Puerto Rican fare in town in its previous incarnation.

☞ REMEMBER: The Third Avenue Train Tracks


The exposed cobblestone just north of 125th Street and 12th Avenue was a reminder of Manhattanville's past but much of it has been covered up because of construction.  One of the more interesting elements imbedded in this old West Harlem block was the Third Avenue train tracks which we assumed would be lost when all the digging was finished from the sewage work that was happening in the past year for the new Columbia University campus.

Walking by this section under the viaduct recently, we noticed that most of the block had been paved over but the powers that be have left the train track portions exposed.  Our preference would have been to restore all of the cobblestone (technically Belgian block) roads within Manhattanville's 12th Avenue just like the Meat Packing District downtown. The two areas are similar in history and this part of Harlem could have been the uptown equivalent at one point.  With all that said, at least the tracks have been preserved for the time being and maybe one day, a plan to add back the character to the neighborhood will come about.

☞ SEE: GMAD Retrospective at the Schomburg

Through December 31st, GMAD at 25: A History in Words and Images, 515 Lenox Avenue at 135th Street.  Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) is the oldest social services organization serving black gay men in New York City and the Schomburg Center celebrates the organization's 25 year with this current exhibition.  For more details, go to the official Schomburg 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: harlembespoke@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

☞ DWELL: 159 West 126th Street Brownstone

A 16.6-foot-wide brownstone at 159 West 126th Street just arrived on the market for the asking price of $1.925 million.  There appears to be a lot of restored details and some major copper embossed ceilings happening (which would probably look more formal painted white) but the house might still be considered an SRO based on DOB permits.  Another point to note is that this section of West 126th faces the back end of the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building so does not have the best view. With that said, the location is just an avenue away from all that is happening on Lenox Avenue and is close to the express trains.  More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ DRINK: Harlem's Social Bar Culture


The one thing we have been noticing about Harlem at night time is that folks are quite friendly when hanging out at one of the new drinking establishments.  At recent trip to the Red Rooster at 310 Lenox,  a young woman next to us offered to move over so we could have two seats and started up a conversation.  Usual points of topics include where one lives, how long have folks been in the neighborhood and were does one frequent as far as restaurants.  On a past visit to Lenox Lounge, we had extra room in our booth and let another couple share the table with us when they inquired.  Over in West Harlem, all the locals go to Harlem Public so there never appears to be a shortage of people introducing themselves and talking about how the neighborhood has been changing as of late.  The best part of it all is when it is time to go after a long night, most uptowners are finding themselves getting  home much quicker since these local favorite watering holes are now within their own neighborhood.

☞ READ: 220 St. Nicholas Converting to Rental

A stalled condo development at 220 St. Nicholas will eventually become a rental building if a couple of young developers have their way.  The Real Deal reveals that 11-unit, 10 story building at West 121st Street did not finish up a couple of years back because of financial issues but the new developers have secured the loan from the original lender.  There will be a foreclosure auction scheduled for November 29th to pick up $12 million in liens against the development but the new team do not see other investors coming in and taking on that debt.   Read more of the details in the Real Deal: LINK

☞ SHOP: Urban Garden Center Christmas Trees

The holiday season is officially here and Christmas trees have arrived at the Urban Garden Center in East Harlem. Wreaths and other holiday greenery can also be found at Manhattan's largest outdoor garden retail space located by La Marqueta on Park Avenue at 116th Street.  For additional details, go the the Urban Garden Center website to learn more about what this East Harlem garden store has to offer: LINK

☞ FOLLOW: Harlem Bespoke Via Twitter

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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

☞ DWELL: Accepted Offer at 123 West 122nd


Number 123 West 122nd Street has an accepted offer out according to Streeteasy: LINK. This is one of more preserved townhouse interiors to be found in the Mount Morris Park Historic district and the brownstone has been recently reduced to $2.298 million.  The 19-foot-wide, 3-family home is on an attractive block and was originally designed by notable architects Heins and LaFarge.  Location wise, this neighborhood feels like the west village with its lovely brownstones side streets mixed in with the small boutiques businesses on lower Lenox.  Express trains can be found at 125th Street along with all the retail located along Harlem's main commercial corridor.

☞ EAT: Celebrity Brunch at Maison Harlem

Maison Harlem might not have the PR team as chef Marcus Samuelsson but the charming French bistro on 127th and St. Nicholas is already starting to attract a celebrity clientel. Check out the larger photo of this Oscar winner who apparently dropped by the new eatery for brunch yesterday: LINK Photo courtesy of Maison Harlem

☞ SHOP: Harlem Vintage Space for Lease

Nectar wine bar closed earlier in the year and now it looks like the sister establishment called Harlem Vintage has definitely shuttered according to details sent in from a Bespoke reader. These two establishments on FDB/8th Avenue and 121st Street were one of the pioneer boutique businesses along the South Harlem commercial corridor and apparently succumbed to the fate of most small businesses.  The space is now up for lease for the wine shop and the wine bar eventually became an extension of the adjacent children's learning center.  With all that said, the other boutique wine purveyor called the Winery still does a very good business down on 116th Street and a new champagne bar will also be opening further south in the near future: LINK

☞ REVIVE: Construction at 71-73 West 126th




There had been braces holding up the old brownstone facades at 71-73 West 126th Street for a few years now but everything was demolished this past Spring.  After everything literally fell apart, it now appears that construction has finally begun at this block just east of Lenox Avenue.  The basement level appears to now be shaping up since concrete was seen been poured for that level in recent weeks.  For some reason, the proprietor waited for the walls to deteriorate before starting this project that has had DOB papers filed for the past 4 years.

☞ SEE: A Duke Name Ellington at the Gatehouse

December 19th, 7:00pm, A Duke Named Elligton Screening at the Gatehouse Theater, 150 Convent Avenue at 135th Street . Widely acclaimed as the best documentary ever created about one of the world’s greatest musical artists, A Duke Named Ellington, by Terry Carter, was nominated in 1988 for an Emmy Award as “Outstanding Informational Special”, and garnered international awards. $10 General / $8 Members: LINK

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Viewed Post

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

1. Amsterdam & 144th circa 1910 (11)
2. Around Hancock Park (2)
3. Sidewalk Shed at 190 Lenox Avenue (5)
4. Edner Rodner Apartments c. 1915 (3)
5. Soup Factory Replaces Chill Berry (3)
6. Another Rejection at 721 St. Nicholas (3)
7. Harlem Reservations for Thanksgiving (1)
8.  Marcus Samuelsson Style
9. Dave's Garden in Hamilton Heights (1)
10. Crosstown Sweets Jam at the Shambles (1)

☞ SUBSCRIBE: Harlem Bespoke via Email

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

☞ DWELL: Around Hancock Park



There's not officially a name for the South Harlem micro nabe located just below the picturesque Hancock Park but the area's brownstone blocks located just below 124th Street and Manhattan Avenue are some of the most charming ones to be found uptown.  Morningside Park makes up the west border one block over and 120th Street is really were it all ends.  Within this 4 block corridor, one will find rows of intact brownstones alongside a handful of prewar buildings existing in an almost entirely preserved neighborhood that is right by the express trains and the bustling retail section over on FDB/8th Avenue.  A few record holding house sales over $2 million have been made in this area within the past year but all of them also had quite stellar interior renovations on the inside.  For those who want to know more about the man behind the statue, check out our past post: LINK

☞ BESPOKE: Marcus Samuelsson Style

We saw this clip of Marcus Samuelsson doing a talk show appearance in Sweden and thought the celebrity chef's new look was a departure from his traditional look.  Harlem's renowned restauranteur is definitely comfortable sporting colors and has picked out a novelty print for this television appearance.  Prints were a current trend at the spring menswear shows this year and this one from the Swedish menswear line called Eton takes us back to looks from the late 80s to early 90s (which is back, believe it or not).

Chef Samuesson's haircut is also noticeably less formal with more height at top and short shorn on the sides.  We tend to like the more classic look but appreciate those who can mix it up and come out more youthful at any age. Check out the full clip of the Swedish show here and see chef Samuelsson speaking his native language: LINK

☞ SHOP: Crosstown Sweets Jam at the Shambles


Harlem Shamble at 2131 FDB/8th Avenue and 115 Street is now carry Crosstown Sweets Jam which is made in small batches locally.  The artisanal offerings are prepared from pesticide free fruit from the Hudson Valley and produced here in Harlem. Flavors include Black Currant, Concord Grape and Honey, Plum and Star Anise, Rhubarb, Strawberry and Basil, Two Currant or Yellow Peach and Red Currant.  Check out more details on the Crosstown Sweets website: LINK

Lower photo courtesy of Evi Abeler via Whip and Click

☞ DONATE: Dave's Garden in Hamilton Heights

So far about a third of the $5,000 goal has been met with 19 days left to donate to this local garden. See below for more details and help out this West Harlem community venture to beautify the neighborhood:

The folks over at Harlem Public have started a campaign to raise funds for a community garden at the avenue median on Broadway between 148th and 149th Street.  These Broadway malls are a popular spot for locals to hang out and converse but some are less planted than others.  Harlem Public was opened as a community spot for all to gather at night and the revitalization of the garden will carry that spirit during the hours of the day.  This campaign is a collaboration with the Parks department but will need $5,000 to make it complete and the garden will be named after one of the owner's father who recently passed away after a battle with cancer.  Those interested can get more details at the official indiegogo 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: harlembespoke@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Amsterdam & 144th circa 1910


An amazing image from 1910 shows a view of Hamilton Heights that was apparently quite majestic for the time period.  This section looking south on Amsterdam Avenue at 144th Street could be straight out of Paris but some modern alterations have changed this perception.  The lower photo shows the block today and most of the ornamental details on the top of the central building has now been removed and any romantic notions to the structure has been lost.

Archival photo courtesy the digital collection at the Museum of the city of New York