Frederick Douglass Boulevard: Newly Revived

Morningside Park, with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in the background, is one of the  parks near this revitalized corridor of Harlem.

Morningside Park, with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in the background, is one of the parks near this revitalized corridor of Harlem.

New York has had its share of neighborhood turnarounds in the last 20 years, but few have been as rapid and transformative as that of Frederick Douglass Boulevard, a formerly blighted corridor of often-abandoned tenements interspersed with rubble-filled lots and tire-repair shops. Sometimes called Eighth Avenue, Frederick Douglass originates at 110th Street, the longtime psychic barrier between the Upper West Side and Central Harlem, and runs to the Harlem River Drive above 155th Street, near a public housing development on the site that New York Giants baseball once called home.

The boulevard forms the spine of a 44-block area from 110th to 124th Streets that the city rezoned in 2003, allowing some residential buildings of greater density. In the decade since, spurred by city subsidies and rising values, that southern stretch has experienced a surge of construction, producing crisp-looking condominiums, rental buildings, restaurants and cafes. The boulevard has also been spiffed up in spots north of 125th Street. “In 1988 it looked like Detroit does now,” said Willie Kathryn Suggs, a longtime Harlem resident and broker. “Now, if you’re living in the neighborhood, there are people out there all the time, and you don’t feel you’ve got to get out of the subway and jump in a cab to go two blocks.”

For C. Virginia Fields, who lives near Eighth on 138th, the changes represent something of a vision realized. When she took office as Manhattan borough president in 1998, the city owned most of the buildings on Frederick Douglass below 125th; she pushed mixed-income development.

“We did drawings and we scheduled tours, in big Greyhound-type buses, where we brought developers up from downtown as if they were immigrants coming from a foreign land,” she said. “Because the properties were city-owned, the buildings along Frederick Douglass were purchased for little or no money, and the developers got tax breaks.”

Among the many new residents were the restaurateurs Stephen and Sheri Wilson Daly, who in 2007 fled a tiny one-bedroom rental on East 91st Street, paying $940,000 for a three-bedroom in a mixed-income condo near Eighth. Although delighted with a 25-year tax abatement, the couple were less impressed with the scant restaurant and shopping choices.

“On Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 9, between 2007 and 2011,” Ms. Daly said, “you could watch droves of people heading to Frederick Douglass and hailing cabs to leave the neighborhood because there were so few places to go in the area.”

In response, the couple opened Harlem Tavern, a family-friendly bistro, on 116th and Eighth, replacing a shuttered auto-repair shop. The menu was priced reasonably, Ms. Daly said, “so we wouldn’t alienate the neighborhood; we wanted new residents, but we wanted the old residents, too.”

Others have set up shop on the boulevard’s new restaurant row. In April, Yvette Leeper-Bueno, who lives nearby in a redone single-room occupancy rowhouse, opened Vinatería, a trattoria that would not be out of place in SoHo. “This neighborhood’s been able to retain its character and still open itself to new and wonderful things,” she said. “It’s still evolving.”

What You’ll Find

The renaissance of the boulevard got a jolt of energy with the city’s recent $25 million sale of a site at 110th and Eighth to an affiliate of Artimus Construction for a 127,000-square-foot mixed-use project. Replacing a BP station at the boulevard’s gateway, the project will have some 56 units, at least 20 percent below market rate, as well as space for the Millennium Dance Company, said a spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Artimus is the developer behind the new One Morningside Park luxury tower, also on 110th.

Side streets are pulsing with life as well. In some cases, homeowners are renovating townhouses for themselves, with rentals to offset mortgage costs. In others, developers are reimagining houses as boutique condos.

On 112th west of Eighth, Ms. Leeper-Bueno added projecting angled windows to her south-facing rowhouse, gaining a western view of Morningside Park and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. At 233-235 West 113th, Epic Management is developing two townhouses into a 10-unit condo. “Harlem is still a village,” said Jeffrey Berger of Isen & Company, the firm handling the sales, so quaint buildings “are desirable.”

Housing officials say that unsubsidized private development in the area would never have happened without city investment in low- and mixed-income housing. Some 2,725 units of income-restricted housing have been created in Central Harlem since 2002; more than 1,650 were built or preserved along Eighth.

“Now it’s possible for a private developer to go out and get private financing, without city subsidies, for a building of market-rate rentals or sales,” said Marc Jahr, the president of the city’s Housing Development Corporation. “But the only way we reached this point was through an enormous infusion of city subsidies.”

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A Boulevard in Harlem Undergoes a Resurgence

Bier International opened in 2009 on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. The owners also own Frederick Cafe across the street. One owner, Ousmane Keita, said Harlem’s traditional culture must be preserved. “We need to find a balance, and not forget what was here,” he said.

Bier International opened in 2009 on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. The owners also own Frederick Cafe across the street. One owner, Ousmane Keita, said Harlem’s traditional culture must be preserved. “We need to find a balance, and not forget what was here,” he said.

It was not that long ago, Leon Ellis remembered as he stared from the window of his latest restaurant, when no one wanted any part of this section of Harlem, when cabdrivers would not stop here. The farthest taxis would venture uptown was 110th Street, a boundary that fractured the neighborhood from the rest of Manhattan.

When Mr. Ellis opened Moca Lounge in 2003 at the corner of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 119th Street, “people thought I lost my mind,” he said. Now Mr. Ellis has a second restaurant, Chocolat, as well as a Harlem-themed clothing boutique, Harlem Underground, on Frederick Douglass.

Now, developers said, when condos hit the market, they go quickly, with the average price for a one-bedroom at about a half-million dollars. Now, along today’s boulevard sit an organic products store, a sushi restaurant and a yoga studio with toddler and tween classes, taking the places of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and drug dealers.

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Harlem Travel Guide – 67 Orange Street – iPhone, iPad, and iPod

Not your traditional cocktail fare

You won’t find the usual suspects—mojitos and cosmos—on the menu at 67 Orange, which is an upscale cocktail lounge that takes its name from the final address of the African American-owned Almack’s Dance Hall that flourished in the early 1800s in notorious Five Points. Instead, you will find $13 libations that combine luxury spirits from all ends of the globe with homemade liquor infusions of natural fruits, herbs, and spices. A must-try is Madame Almack—a cocktail made of Bak’s Bison Grass Vodka, fresh mint, Cynar Artichoke Aperitif, and champagne. The food menu is just as atypical, with light fare offerings such as orange-roasted duck leg with cinnamon mashed potatoes and a daily selection of market-fresh shellfish. Owner Karl Franz Williams, has outfitted the cozy vintage space with purple velvet curtains, distressed mirrors, filament light bulbs, and rotating fine art on the brick walls.

Cuisine: Eclectic Bar Food, Raw Bar

Menu

This is why the “Gold Coast” is sizzling–bier international is a neighborhood place to meet neighbors and catch up on the local news. Down the block, 5 & Diamond serves up delicious eats at reasonable prices.

Transportation: Bus—M2, M3, M7, M10, M116. Subway—B, C to 110th St.

Features

  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours of Harlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

   Literally a guide in my pocket

Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012

I can only subscribe to what other people already have told about the guide. It’s just great that I can read a place description, actually give a call its manager, find it on a map and even hook up on its Twitter channel to keep my eye on it. Very smart!

Harlem Travel Guide is available in App Store for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website – www.welcometoharlem.com
Yelp – http://www.yelp.com/biz/welcome-to-harlem-new-york
Trip Advisor – http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1977036-Reviews-Welcome_to_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html

Morningside Park – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone and iPad App

A Revolutionary War battle was fought here in 1776

Morningside Park is located between 110th and 123rd Streets and Morningside Drive and Manhattan Avenue, and is 30 acres in size. The park takes its name from its eastern side—where the sun rises in the morning. The city commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (co-designers of Central and Prospect Parks) to produce a design for the park in 1870, but construction did not begin until 1883 after their original design was revised. The Morningside Ave. side of the park is tucked underneath a massive buttressed masonry retaining wall with a parapet. A series of esplanades, with 30-foot-wide walkways linked by steps, lead down to the Manhattan Ave. side of the park. The park is home to the following statues: Lafayette and Washington by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1900), the Carl Schurz Memorial by Karl Bitter and Henry Bacon (1913), and the Seligman (Bear and Faun) fountain by Edgar Walter (1914). The park also contains an arboretum and an ornamental pond and waterfall. On July 15, 2008, the park was designated a New York Scenic Landmark, the city’s first since 1983. On Saturdays, from the end of May to mid-December, a Farmers Market is open at the plaza entrance to the park at 110th Street and Manhattan Ave. from 9 to 5, rain or shine.

Facilities: Baseball diamond, dog run, playgrounds, basketball courts, handball courts, volleyball court, and a small recreation center.

Now that you just had a relaxing time in the park let’s get something to eat and drink, a stop at Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too for finger licking soul food. Then for that perfect drink go down to bier international where they have over thirty types of beers waiting for you.

Transportation: Bus—M3, M4, M7, M11, M116. Subway—B, C to 110th St.

Enjoy the show

Features

  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

Finally we know where to go!!!

Posted by A Texas Titan on 1st Jan 2012

Greetings WTH,

We loved the art galleries tours throughout Central Harlem, thank you for making our visit to NYC merry and bright!

More Reviews

Download the free Sutro World @ www.sutromedia.com/world and purchase the in-app Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website – www.welcometoharlem.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Welcome-to-Harlem/464732145003
Twitter – https://twitter.com/welcometoharlem
Yelp – http://www.yelp.com/biz/welcome-to-harlem-new-york
Trip Advisor – http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1977036-Reviews-Welcome_to_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html
Blog – www.welcometoharlem.wordpress.com

Harlem Draws a Restaurant Crowd

Star chef Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster, pictured, has become a Harlem hot spot since opening a year ago.

For many years, even as Harlem gained new residential developments, its restaurant scene—with the exception of a few reknowned soul-food places—had lagged. That’s no longer the case, as Frederick Douglass Boulevard has become a veritable restaurant row and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster has become one of the hottest places in the city, from a location just north of 125th Street.

In fact, over the past three years, at least a dozen new restaurants, cafes and bars have opened in Central Harlem, between 110th and 125th streets. Notable newcomers include Cédric, a French bistro; 5 & Diamond, a nouveau American spot; Bier International, a popular beer garden; Lido, an Italian restaurant; Harlem Tavern, which transformed a former auto body shop into a massive outdoor dining area; wine bar Nectar; and cocktail lounge 67 Orange Street.

And more are in the works, including wine bar Auberge Laurent, Honecomb Burgers and Harlem Food Bar.

“I resented the fact that my amenities had to be less because I lived above 96th Street,” said Mr. Samuelsson, who moved to Harlem seven years ago with the intention of opening a restaurant there. “American companies are looking at India, China and Brazil as emerging markets. For me, Harlem is an emerging market.”

When Red Rooster opened a year ago, with its menu of reinvented American food, packed bar and diverse clientele, it put an imprimatur on a neighborhood in transition.

“Many areas that used to be considered ‘fringe’ have become hot and hospitable for retail and restaurants,” said restaurant consultant Michael Whiteman. “This is continuing despite the country’s economic problems because New York never really went into collapse and there’s still lots of money being spent here.”

Harlem, of course, is one of the city’s most history-laden neighborhoods, the center of African-American life in a neighborhood filled with churches, jazz clubs and the famous Apollo Theater. After a severe decline, development began again in Harlem in the 1990s, spurred by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. Harlem got a new supermarket, a movie theater, and a Starbucks.

And as residential real estate boomed, developers built upscale apartment complexes, including the Livmor and Soha 118. The growth in new eateries followed, albeit after a lag.

There are economic incentives for being uptown. Rents are a lot cheaper and spaces smaller, lower the risk of new ventures.

Rents go from $50 a square foot for basic spots to $120 a square foot for prime locations on 125th Street, according to Alex Hill, a broker at Winick Realty Group, who has done deals in the neighborhood. “The market is pretty variable right now,” Mr. Hill said. “Most of the inquiries are for restaurants.”

By comparison, rents along Broadway on the Upper West Side averaged $326 a square foot in the third quarter, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s retail report.

There are still risks for Harlem’s restaurant renaissance. While Frederick Douglass has become a restaurant magnet, much of Lenox, which is a far-grander European-style avenue, remains largely empty.

Leah Abraham and Nino Settepani, the couple behind Ristorante Settepani that opened on Lenox a decade ago, recently nixed plans for a pizza restaurant across the street due to the economic climate and financing difficulties.

Despite the uncertainties, the area restaurant scene is gaining momentum.

“There’s not so much room in Manhattan anymore,” said Cédric Lecendre, co-owner of Cédric and former general manager of Le Bilboquet on the Upper East Side, which is owned by his uncle. “You want to open in the 80s or 90s? It’s packed. In the Meatpacking District? It’s impossible,” Mr. Lecendre said. “Manhattan is an island, and there’s only so much room left.”

A guide to the booming Harlem nabe

Aloft Harlem, the nabe’s first new hotel in over 40 years, is the latest in a string of chic boutiques, restaurants and cocktail lounges on Frederick Douglass Blvd. above 110th St. The area’s first beer garden opened in August, and luxury condos are cropping up on every corner. No wonder realtors call this bustling stretch of Eighth Ave. Harlem’s Gold Coast.

*The booming boulevard begins at Frederick Douglass Circle (Central Park North & Frederick Douglass Blvd.), where a monument to the abolitionist was completed in June (pictured above). The B and C trains at 110th St.-Central Park North bring visitors to the vibrant corridor running up to 125th St.

*Niche shops like MODSquad Cycles (2119 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; above left), Bebenoir Boutique (2164 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) and the just-opened Bibi Salon (2220 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) are meeting the rising demand of incoming professionals. “We’re bringing a service into a neighborhood that really needed it,” says Laralyn Mowers, 31, from MODSquad, which rents out bikes and hawks customized wheels for up to $4,500. “Sometimes kids come in with a flat tire, and we’ll patch it for no charge.”

New eateries are expanding the area’s palate, like Patisserie des Ambassades (2200 Frederick Douglass Blvd., above right) and Questan’s (2113 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) with its seafood specials. The 5 & Diamond (2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) opened in March with organic American fare, and upper West Side favorite Levain Bakery will open at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. next year.

*Harlem was poised to be New York’s next It nabe three years ago until the real estate crash halted many projects. Now as more students and young families settle uptown, investors are taking over vacant lots and empty storefronts to build new businesses.

The condo boom, however, has some longtime residents worried about getting priced out. The FDB 2280 (2280 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) luxury complex prides itself as Harlem’s “new standard” of living, while the one-bedrooms at the Livmor (301 W. 115th St.) begin selling at $460,000.


*Bier International (2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; above), Harlem’s first beer garden, opened in August with nine international and domestic drafts, plus scores of bottles. “This is what the neighborhood needed,” says co-owner Chris Pollok. “My partner and I have been in business for years, mostly in the East Village, but now everything is happening here!” There’s more on tap: Harlem Tavern opens next month at 116th St.

*”The lounge culture has gotten really popular,” says Malik Sharif, who works at Moca Lounge (2210 Frederick Douglass Blvd.). Karl Williams at 67 Orange St. (2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd., shown above) is also bringing the cocktail culture of Death & Co. uptown. “This area is really starting to open up, and I love it,” says the Harlem resident. “I don’t have to go downtown to go ­shopping or have a good cocktail. We’re creating that downtown experience up here.”

*Iconic pieces honoring Harlem’s history still color the nabe, such as the 30-by-11-foot Spirit of Harlem glass mosaic by Brooklyn native Louis Del Sarte (80 W. 125th St.; above left), or the nearby Swing Low: A Memorial to Harriet Tubman bronze sculpture by Allison Saar (123rd St. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.) celebrating the Underground Railroad leader.

* Plenty of local artisans still sell their wares between the bars and chic boutiques. One vendor from Burkina Faso sells handmade West African-style jewelry for a song, including carved wooden bangles and necklaces for $7 to $10, and glass rings for $5 (above right).

*The Aloft Harlem hotel (2296 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) opened on Thursday with 124 rooms averaging $239 a night, plus a gym, a bar/lounge area and outdoor patio. Says local resident Ashtan Pina, 21, “This area is booming, and yet, those places like the Apollo and Sylvia’s that make Harlem Harlem are still here.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2010/12/05/2010-12-05_frederick_douglass_boulevard_a_guide_to_the_harlem_nabe_thats_attracting_new_peo.html#ixzz17HGGaVlo