Friday, June 28, 2013

☞ MEET: Harlem Pride 2013 on Saturday

Saturday, June 29th, 12:00 Noon-6:00PM, Harlem Pride at Jackie Robinson Park, 145th Street and Brandhurst Avenue.  Harlem's LGBT community's annual Pride celebration will be held again at Jackie Robinson Park this year and should be especially festive with the demise of DOMA this week so drop by and meet the community.  This event will include live entertainment, refreshments, community organizations and more.  Additional details can be found on the official Harlem Pride site: LINK

☞ REMEMBER: Harlem's Belgian Stone Streets

Every time we see road construction uptown, we always noticed that the original Belgian stone streets are still underneath the pavement.  These unique stone streets can be found downtown in Soho and the Meat Packing District and have added to the charms of those neighborhoods but Harlem's historic districts have not adopted in featuring this part of their past.

Belgian stone roads also helps regulate the speed that traffic flows so this also something community developers might want to look at for safety reasons.  There's been a lot  of talk about getting some of these dirt bike riders to obey the speed limits since they like to speed down the boulevards so maybe just removing the asphalt would actually help with this particular issue.

☞ EAT: 5 & Diamond Opens Again with Pride

The restaurant 5 & Diamond  was shuttered in the past week but we noticed that it was open last night with a show of Pride appreciation.  Folks might remember that this eatery by 112th and FDB/8th Avenue was first started by notable chef Ryan Skeen a couple of years back (who has since parted ways) and we had one of our first food reviews posted about the offerings at hand: LINK

Harlem Pride is this weekend and now 5 & Diamond joins the list of businesses that are showing their support of uptown's LGBT community.  Check out some of the other gay friendly businesses in our previous post: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: The Harlem Arts Festival

Saturday-Sunday, June 29th-30th, 3:00PM-8:00PM, Harlem Arts Festival 2013 at Marcus Garvey Park's Richard Rodgers Amphitheater, 123rd Street and Mount Morris Park West.  The full list of artist and performers for the first Harlem Arts Festival is now up on line.  Everyone should mark their calendars for this free 2 day event at the new Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in the the Mount Morris Park neighborhood. More details can be found on the organizer site: LINK

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

☞ WALK: West 141st in Hamilton Heights

The brownstone sides streets in Harlem often change block by block and there are definitely some standouts that we have noticed.  In our humble opinion, one of the more charming ones to be found in West Harlem is on West 141st Street between Convent and Amsterdam Avenue.  These landmark townhouses are mostly intact except for one shell down the street and homeowners have kept the block pristine.

City College is close by which ads to some foot traffic to the neighborhood which can sometimes be a little desolate on other blocks and The Grange just opened around the corner which has become the local hangout.  Express trains on 145th are definitely a plus since this neighborhood is a bit further  up north and has only just started having better businesses set up in the past year.

☞ BESPOKE: Dapper on Lenox and 125th

Sunday in Harlem is a time to dress up for many locals and the people watching is some of the best in town. We saw these two bespoke gentlemen saying high to neighbors this past weekend as they headed up Lenox Avenue to 125th Street.  This duo shows exactly how to dress up for the warm weather but still keep things a little casual.  Slim, cropped trousers which show a bit of ankle and dress shoes along with lightweight suiting fabric help keep these looks balanced between weekend and work.  As 90s minimalism starts its return in the fashion cycle, many men in the know will start mixing up silhouettes and solids instead of patterns or colors which have been so prevalent in the past few seasons.

☞ EAT: Brunch Service at Vinateria

Vinateria on FDB/8th Avenue at 118th Street softly opened lunch service a few weeks back on Sundays and it has already become quite a hit.  We have not made it over yet but the owners have informed us that word of mouth has help spread the news and many locals have been dropping by the popular new restaurant on the late weekend afternoons.  More photos can be found on the official Vinateria Facebook site: LINK

☞ EXERCISE: Another Harlem Blink Fitness

The new 12-story market rate condo building rising on 116th between Lenox and Fifth will apparently have Harlem's second Blink Fitness gym when completed about a year from now.  This 83-unit new construction is another building by L+M Development Partners which also built the Kalahari across the street.  We took a photo of the site back in May but now the height of the building has about doubled. Check out the full details on the L+M site for more information on these new condos. LINK

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

☞ CELEBRATE: Harlem Pride at Red Rooster

Sunday, June 30th, 8:00PM Uptown Pride at Ginny's Supper Club downstairs at the Red Rooster, 310 Lenox and 125th Street.  The Red Rooster has joined in with the group of gay friendly restaurants uptown and has offered up Ginny's Supper Club for the post parade festivities this Sunday and also in celebration of a historic Supreme Court Ruling that protects the rights of all families.  DJ Stormin Normin of Sundae Sermon will be on hand and there will be a $10 cover at the door.

☞ BESPOKE: Harlem Gay Pride on 125th

Today is a great day for equality for the LGBT community and we continue our look at Harlem Pride uptown.  Walking by the 125th Street American Apparel, we noticed their new tee that supports pride in the LGBT community and that manufacturer also has had gay marriage support logos in the past.  While most businesses are gay tolerant,  a few uptown establishments show their friendliness or pride to the community by being out and proud: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 371-373 Manhattan Avenue

A Bespoke Reader had the following question on 371-373 Manhattan Avenue:

 "This double wide building (two combined townhouses) which had been used as a church for many years, has been the subject of a few prior posts. It's on the west side of Manhattan Ave. just south of 116th. It appears to have finally sold back in April for $1.2M to Blue Ashes LLC... I walked by there yesterday and demo has started. I always thought the property had great potential, but it was on the market a very long time. The only drawback for me is the bus stop right in front of the building -- the #7, #116 and #3 all stop there so it's a lot of noise and fumes, especially on the lower floors. (I) Am curious to know if they can and will build higher."

We could not find anything on this building as far as DOB permits or architectural diagrams online.  A broker in the past mentioned that a local artist purchased the building formerly used as a church and this could possibly be studio space in the future.  Does anyone else have tips on other tips on this building?

☞ EAT: Pa-Paya Seed Frozen Yogurt Finishes Up

It has been some time since any activity was seen over at the new frozen yogurt shop in the Mount Morris Park Historic District but now things appear to be finishing up.  Workers have been busy daily at this formerly empty site over by 118th and Lenox and most of the fixtures have now been set up.  At this rate, we expect this new store to open up within the next couple of weeks.  The final plan for Pa-Paya Seed will also include outdoor seating as detailed in our past post: LINK

☞ SEE: T.V. Transvestite at Maysles Cinema

Thursday, June 27th, 6:30PM Reception, Screening at 7:30PM, T.V. Tranvestite at Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Avenue at 128th Street.  The rarely seen "Paris is Burning prequel" called T.V. Transvestite will be shown once more at Maysles Cinema in honor of Pride Week.  This presentation will also have a mini Ball performance to get the audience in the mood.  Buy tickets online to guarantee seating: LINK

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

☞ BESPOKE: Sleeping Lions of 121st Street

Stone lions are usually in a various formal poses when attached to a classical structure but we spotted a couple of playful, resting lions in South Harlem recently.  This duo was seen at townhouse on West 121st Street and appear to be unique to the area.  We are not sure if the lions came with the original design of the building but they do add a bit of character to the entrance.

☞ REVIVE: CREATE@Harlem Green Update

It was announced two years ago that the old Tastee Cake site taking up a block over on West Harlem (426-458 West 126th Street by Amsterdam) had plans to be restored so that a  local brewery and a Greenpoint manufacturing collective could move in.  This $100 million project called CREATE@Harlem Green was big news since it would bring manufacturing facilities and jobs back to Manhattanville but the lower photo shows the site today which still looks the same as it did a couple of years back.  So what is going on?

The only bit of information we could find is basically what has been confirmed via paperwork on the DOB public site.  From the top sketch, we assumed that the original Taystee Cake factory would be incorporated back into the new structure but current paperwork filed last week has plans made for the demolition of most of the block.  Outside of the demo permits, we could not find any new building permits posted so CREATE@Harlem Green will probably take a little more time to happen then expected.

☞ DRINK: Wednesday LGBT Mixer at Aloft

Wednesday, June 26th, 6:00PM - 11:30PM Aloft Hotel Weekly Wednesday LGBT Mixer Happy Hour. It should be a big turnout out Harlem's number one weekly LGBT mixer at Aloft Hotel's WXYZ Bar so drop by early to get in on the drink specials.  Crowds do not really start showing up until about 9:00PM and folks who get there earlier will circumvent the long wait at the bar:  LINK

Monday, June 24, 2013

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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.

☞ REMEMBER: La Baker at Chez Josephine

A photo from 1927 shows the famous Josephine Baker at the original Chez Josephine in Paris and the New York version of the restaurant in Times Square will be hosting a Harlem Pride post parade event next Sunday.  Restauranteur Jean-Claude Baker (who is the son of the famous Harlem Renaissance entertainer) will be hosting an after party for Harlem Pride after the official parade on Sunday, June 30th starting at 5:00 PM and will share his favorite Josephine stories along with a champagne toast with guest: LINK

The above event on after the official New York City Pride Parade which happens on Sunday but folks uptown should remember that there is a Harlem Pride event at Jackie Robinson Park on the previous day, Saturday, June 29th: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Tea Boutique Arriving on FDB

The older Harlem Flo shop that closed down last year had some activity on site and we were able to talk to the new owner about the tea salon that will open at that location in the coming weeks.  This was the original Harlem Flo shop on FDB/8th Avenue just north of 122nd Street and the current proprietor of the space is currently putting together finishing touches on the interior.  This new shop owner has a family background with a history of importing teas from all over the world so expect exotic African blends and fragrant chai teas as part of offerings at this new shop.

☞ BESPOKE: Harlem Gay Friendly Businesses

Gay Pride week is at hand and we will be featuring things to do in Harlem for the LGBT community.  There are a handful of gay friendly businesses uptown that show support for the gay community at large and some have rainbow flag stickers on the window to show support.  These businesses are often gay owned or staffed and the sticker shows LGBT folks new to the community that are not familiar with the neighborhood that they are not alone.

We noticed that some businesses downtown that are typically not gay hangouts during the week have posted rainbow flags out front to attract out of town tourists during pride week but Harlem shops like The Winery on 116th, Jado Sushi on FDB and Native on Lenox have these stickers in place year round.  Many businesses attract an LGBT clientele in Harlem without the sticker and spots such as Billie's Black, Harlem Food Bar and Lenox Coffee which all seem to have a nice mix of people.  As Harlem even becomes more diverse, the LGBT community will definitely be a more visible part of the population in the future.  Check out our past post on the gay migration uptown: LINK

☞ BESPOKE: Roof Gardens on Manhattan Ave

Rooftop gardens are a big part of summer for many in the city and we happened to noticed a very bespoke brownstone on Manhattan Avenue which has all the greenery in place.  One can alway find the house proud homeowner on the block by spotting the wide range of foliage out front during the warm seasons and this type city gardening has become more popular uptown over the years.

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☞ REVIVE: New Heights at One Morningside

The new condo development call One Morningside Park has been rising quickly since the year started and has reached about half of its final height. This building at the south corner of Morningside Park on 110th Street will be 22 stories with 88 units in total when construction finishes up in the next year or so.    There also appears to be a transfer of air rights to this one since the building does overlap on to the roof of the next one to the left.  As far as location goes, this is a prime South Harlem corner close to local shops and Central Park is also just located a block away so we expect this one to sell out quickly when the marketing starts.

Check out the rendering of the final building design in our previous post: LINK

Friday, June 21, 2013

☞ SHOP: Where are the Harlem Diners?

Bistro's and Cafes seem to be popping up left and right in Harlem but the reliable diner is really something that is hard to find.  M&G Diner shuttered a few years back and the new businesses that have come along uptown have been a little more fancy.  Harlem Shake at 124th Street has this aesthetic and is helping bring back the feel of this old Harlem establishment but a true diner with loads of local character is still hard to find uptown.

M&G Diner's retail space has been gutted and all but one of the original signage still remains today in the restored building but the asking rent for this corner of 125th Street is around $12,000 a month.  Only a bank, Starbucks or someone like Shake Shack's Danny Meyer could really afford this type of business we will have to see what will eventually happen to this space that has been vacant for some time now.

☞ EAT: Harlem Japanese Fusion at Best Yet

We always love a good Harlem food fusion on any menu and were recently surprised at a Japanes maki roll selling at Best Yet market on FDB/8th Avenue by 118th Street.  Out of the many variations offered, it appears that a soulful sweet potato sushi roll has arrived amongst the usual assortment of sushi at this better market's counters.  A drizzle of sweet Japanese unagi BBQ sauce finishes this east-west mix off and the $4.50 price point is probably one of cheaper rolls one can find anywhere in the city.

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☞ REMEMBER: 141st and Amsterdam circa 1910

A photo taken in Hamilton Heights back in 1910 shows a shop on a familiar corner of West Harlem's landmark neighborhood.  A couple of neighborhood ladies catch up with one another in front of what appears to be an old grocery store with Heinz and olive oil brand signage in the window.  Many folks might know this corner as The Grange these days and the popular restaurant has brought back some of that historic charm back to the neighborhood.

Archival image courtesy The Museum of the City of New York

Thursday, June 20, 2013

☞ DWELL: 419 West 145th Street Sold Higher

A Bespoke reader mentioned they showed up to the state auction of  419 West 145th Street at the Adam Clayton Powell building on 125th Street yesterday and reports that the brownstone (at center) sold higher.  Auction prices started out at $385K and the packed room apparently had some enthusiastic bidders since the building eventually sold for $1.27 million when all was said and done.   There appears to be a lot of work needed for this building including structural facade repairs so or tipster commented that this was not really a deal for anyone looking for a cheap house to fix up.  More details on auction date and open houses can be found at this government site: LINK

☞ ARCHITECTURE: Dragons by Mornignside Park

Old cast iron on brownstones never cease to amaze us and we noticed some distinct details by the blocks bordering Morningside Park on a recent stroll.  There appears to be a pair of dragons proudly watching over a cast iron gate in the 120s which also provide a stylish touch to a gated door which would otherwise be quite depressing to look at.  Dragons are a rare motif as far as townhouses go but we also discovered another cool relief with the mythical beast over by the Mount Morris Park Historic District: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Make Music New York 2013

Friday, June 21st, Make Music New York 2013 in Harlem. Tomorrow will be the big Make Music New York event in the city so folks should check out all of uptown's small businesses or open spaces to see some live music in the streets starting in the afternoon.  Check out the Harlem schedule on the official website for this even: LINK

☞ QUESTION: Ask Harlem Bespoke

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☞ INTRODUCING: Silvana Opens This Friday

Silvana at 300 West 116th has announced it will have its soft opening on Friday, June 21st at 5:00PM. Folks should expect Israeli fare at the restaurant just west of FDB/8th Avenue and the cafe upstairs will have a gift shop which serves fair trade teas and coffee.  The owners have successfully opened the French bistro called Yatenga at 135th Street in the past so expect this new eatery to be one of the more notable ones on the lower FDB corridor.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

☞ BESPOKE: Townhouse Stoop Colors?

Below is a Bespoke reader question we receive recently in reference to townhouse stoop restorations.  From what we can see, repainting stoop really are about matching the natural stone color of the building.  We have also seen limestone or brick buildings with contrasting brownstone colored stoops as shown in the top photo. Any other suggestions out there?

We're buying a 4-story limestone in HH and wondering if there's a 'traditional' color for the front steps/stoop. It's small, only four steps and it's currently a battleship grey and greatly in need of painting. I'd like to do something a little 'out there' but not garish.

☞ REVIVE: Victoria Late in Breaking Ground

UPDATE:  INFORMATION HAS BEEN ADDED ON A LATER DEVELOPMENT DATE THANKS TO A TIP RECEIVED.  It was announced about a year ago that plans for two towers to be built at the old Victoria Theater on 125th Street was announced but the January 2013 ground breaking never came about.  Not much has happened on the site just west of FDB/8th Avenue so we decided to check if the paperwork was at least in place for the adaptive reuse development.

If the DOB website is up to date at all, it would appear that nothing preemptive has been filed to even get this ambitious project started as far as permits are concerned.  The Corn Exchange Building and the new Whole Foods on 125th Street all have the paperwork filed for construction to happen this side of the year but the Victoria project appears to still be in limbo.  We have now been told that the fourth quarter of 2013 will see this project taking off according to an article published in February so maybe there is still a chance for the Victoria this year.  Read more about this project and check out the building rendering in our past post: LINK

☞ EXERCISE: Blink Fitness Opens Friday

Equinox's affordable gym chain known as Blink Fitness will open its first Harlem branch this Friday at the new construction on the corner of FDB/8th Avenue and 125th Street.  This complex is the first building to rise on 125th Street since the recession slowed things down a few years back but now another affordable gym has arrived in Harlem from a major luxury chain.  We received a quick tour earlier in the week and were informed that a deluxe $20 a month pass will also allow the member to bring one guest in for free on each visit along with access to the other Blink Fitness in the city.  A ribbon cutting ceremony will kick things off at 11:00AM:

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

☞ REMEMBER: The Lost Clubs of Sugar Hill

The Sugar Hill Historic District in Hamilton Heights probably has the largest cluster of old Harlem lounges still intact but no longer in business.  Just west of St. Nicholas Avenue on 148th Street, one will find the old sign for 400 Tavern but that storefront evidently has been abandoned since the 70s.  Then there is Lundy's on St. Nicholas and 147th Street which still has the signage up also but has long been empty.  Out of the 7 bars that used to be on the hill in the upper 140s, only St. Nick's Pub has survived in recent times but was shuttered a couple of years ago because of management issues.

We have also heard of Jimmy's Chicken Shack of which was frequented by Malcolm X   but have not heard the names of the last three.  Does anyone know the rest of the missing Sugar Hill pubs?

☞ BESPOKE: A Chic Faux Balenciaga Harlem Tee

The house of Balenciaga is getting major street cred these days with a fashion parody tee that has been embraced by those in the know.  To avoid copyright issues, the maker cleverly misspells the Parisian fashion houses name and has the location listed as Lenox Avenue, Harlem.  A few hipster outposts downtown and in Brooklyn are selling the tees which come in black or white but we have not seen them in Harlem yet.  Most online outlets have a limit of 5 tees for each purchase which run around $60 for each.  This tee has become an international hit as this Elle UK fashion feature shows: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 2272 FDB Finally Rises

Sidwalk sheds appeared at 2272 FDB by 122nd Street in the past month and now cranes installing the ground pilasters for a new construction have arrived on the formerly stalled site.  It has been at least a couple of decades since anything stood on this formerly stalled site so seeing something finally rising is a nice change to behold.  Condos have performed well in the area south of 125th Street on the west side so this should be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.