I would just like to say to thanks to everyone for their support of my efforts on this blog. My Dwyer post may have thrown some of you for a loop, but my goal was to show that development, gentrification and the neighborhood can have a mutually beneficial relationship. No other building in Harlem is as uniquely positioned to do this...and I just wanted to present a point of view where a thoughtful development can in fact achieve this fine balance. As a result, I am introducing something known as the "Gentrification-o-meter" where the scale of this relationship will be given a score from 1 to 10; 1 being a completely self-serving tower of vanity and 10 being a harmonious paragon of community love. For example, 111 Central Park North, where the cheapest apartment is still 20% more expensive than the Dwyer's most expensive apt, gets a 1. Its Ivory Tower architecture literally turns its back on Harlem, only facing south. Its high falutin' ads promising "great views, starting at $1.5 million, and is minutes from mid-town," only further its reputation as harboring rich snobby people who care nothing about the neighborhood.
(This may in fact not be the case, but there's absolutely no way of telling, and there's absolutely no outreach to the community to dispel this notion). Where as the Hamilton--my former building--with its high proportion of native Harlem residents, modest scale and vital retail services gets an 8. My goal, as stated from the very first posting, is to add nuance to the Gentrification debate, something that the ultra-Right and ultra-Left hate me for (believe me, I've seen the chatrooms), because it challenges their inflexible attitudes on this issue. So to them I say "keep on hating, you only make me stronger" and to the rest, thanks for your support, feedback and fair-minded criticism. So without further ado, Part 2 of FDB!
The crux of 116th is a interesting place. Old and new places of business meet in a strange detante. On the one hand are old throw backs like the car-fixin-place, while newer places like The Wine Store, and this African fashion shop (Petit Paris) compete for foot traffic.
Across the street is a new building that was one of the first in Harlem to go from co-op to rentals. It houses some decent businesses like Subway, Tribal Spears and Prudential. A healthfood store, Carrot, is just around the corner on 117th.
It will be interesting in the coming months to see how these real-estate offices do.
Across the street to the north is my buddy, Chef White, and his 5 star grill.
(He gets a 10 on the gentrification-o-meter).
The empty lot next to him is going to see some development soon.
On the east side, we have this monolith, that I know next to nothing about.
Moving North, we have the much bally-hooed Soha--the buidling that coined a neighborhood--or so they'd have you think.
This building gets a 5 on the gentrification-o-meter. They cleaned up some empty lots and decrepit buildings, but we get yet another Chase and Starbucks.
Directly across the street is this hideous project that has been in Stop-Work-Order hell since they began this truly terrible conversion.
Just north of this is the successful and African owned Cafe les Ambassades.
Moving on is Moca, one of the first "upscale" lounges in Harlem.
North and to the west is the first affordable new development of this whole re-zoning effort. The Harriett Tubman Gardens...
on the gentrification-o-meter it gets an 8. Most of its original apartments were affordable to local residents and it was the pioneer of FDB. It also houses two great Black-owned businesses, Harlem Vintage and Nectar.
Looking east, is this oddly shaped new development.
Here's the crossroads of FDB and St. Nicholas Ave., with The Dwyer in the background.
A closeup of a crazy tribute to Harriett Tubman herself.
There are still some signs of the old look...
but the new is making its final push here.
The old block here...
torn down to make way for the new ALoft.
Across the street to the west is Magic Johnson's visionary development.
It gets the 10 spot on the gentrification-o-meter...It was the first of its kind in redeveloping this area with goods and services that the neighborhood is dying for. Special shout out to Hue-man Bookstore.
Coming next, an inside look at Magic Johnson Theaters!