The campaign to continue developing West Harlem is still in full swing, but it has certainly not been a seamless transition. The latest battle pits developers against preservationists in regards to the Yuengling Brewery Complex on Amsterdam Avenue and the potential landmark status that building might receive.
Janus Property is the group that owns the space, and it says the bureaucracy of having to deal with even the possible landmark has been a complete waste of time, money, and energy. Janus goes on to argue that the building “could be better served as the site of a new development that could attract businesses to the neighborhood.”
On the other side are the landmark proponents, who are upset that preserving older buildings has not been a municipal prerogative. Others claim that “landmarking historic building should not be seen as an obstacle for economic development,” and they point to Tribeca and the West Village as examples.
Janus Property is also involved in another situation dealing with West Harlem commercial development, and this one includes tenants who have already had to vacate their space. “The Chashama Residency, which opened eight years ago in a former brewery on W. 126th Street, provided low-cost workspace for scores of Harlem and Bronx-based artists.” Tenants were apparently told this past August of plans to include the building in a new commercial development complex, and there are rumors that either an upscale hotel or a gallery will go in the space.
Rebuilding 125th Street
The New York City Economic Development Corps. began an independent study in 2003 to determine the best way to take advantage of neighborhood development. The multi-year study led the way to a re-zoning proposal that was finally adopted in 2008. Among numerous 125th Street developments is a 100,000 square foot shopping center at the corner of 125th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. A 2013 New York Times article says:
Anchored by a 30,000 square foot Designer Shoe Warehouse, the new development at 301 West 125th Street is directly opposite Harlem U.S.A., the pioneering retail and entertainment center that opened in 2000, giving the neighborhood its first movie theater in many years – now called the AMC Magic Johnson Theater Harlem 9 – as well as national retailers like a 35,000 square foot Old Navy store.
The same article goes on to say, “Half a block to the east, the developers of Harlem U.S.A., Grid Properties and the Gotham Organization, are putting up a $14 million, three-story retail building at 269 West 125th Street, next to the Apollo Theater, which will includes a Red Lobster, also new to the neighborhood.”
Ivy League Expansion
Columbia University began a 17-acre, $6.3 billion campus expansion program more than a decade ago, although the results so far have been pretty controversial. The primary issue is that much of the land needed did not belong to Columbia, and some property owners were reluctant to hand over what was rightfully theirs. The courts eventually got involved, and the New York Court of Appeals ruled in 2010 that the state did in fact have the right to use eminent domain to seize private property for the project. Hoping to eventually smother over relations with the West Harlem residents, Columbia has signed an extensive “community benefits agreement,” which includes medical services to seniors and shuttle buses to the subway for those who need assistance.
One of the primary components (if not the primary component) of Columbia’s expansion project is the Jerome L. Greene Science Center – a research home for diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It is scheduled to be completed in 2016, with the entire expansion supposed to be finished by 2030.
A search on OLR for new condo developments in West Harlem shows eight that are currently in progress. Three are new conversions, four are new constructions, and one is a pre-construction. They include:
- 23 West 126th Street (The Adeline) – 12 floors/83 units/$1,250 per square foot.
- 240 Manhattan Avenue (One Morningside Park) – 22 floors/55 units/$1,391 per square foot.
- 1890 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (The Strathmore) – 6 floors/28 units/$772 per square foot.
Recent Deals in West Harlem
West Harlem, like practically every other part of Manhattan, has the ability to attract some high-profile names. Two recent ones includes:
- Don Lemon – the CNN anchor bought a second condo at 2280 Frederick Douglass Boulevard back in 2014. He paid more than $860,000 for the apartment and had already owned the unit next door.
- Alex Trebek – the longtime host of Jeopardy! recently purchased a $1.92 million townhouse for his 25 year-old son. The listing address is 310 West 140th Street.