Harlem

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Features, Harlem, History

Dorrance Brooks Square: A Harlem enclave with World War and civil rights ties

By Historic Districts Council, Wed, September 4, 2019

Photo courtesy of the Dorrance Brooks Property Owners and Residents Association

This post is part of a series by the Historic Districts Council, exploring the groups selected for their Six to Celebrate program, New York’s only targeted citywide list of preservation priorities.

By many accounts, Dorrance Brooks Square is considered the first public square named for a black soldier. The little Harlem park, just east of the larger St. Nicholas Park, was dedicated in 1925 to honor African-American infantryman Dorrance Brooks for his bravery during WWI. Prior to that, the area was very much associated with the Harlem Renaissance, home to jazz musician Lionel Hampton and sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois, among others. Later, it became a key location for social and political gatherings and speeches during the Civil Rights era. Today, the quaint neighborhood is home to an incredibly intact collection of late 19th-century rowhouses, built at the time for upper-middle-class professionals, as well as four culturally and architecturally significant churches.

For all these reasons, the Dorrance Brooks Property Owners and Residents Association is advocating for an official landmark designation of the Dorrance Brooks Square Historic District, which would run up Edgecombe Avenue between West 136th and 140th Streets. To give 6sqft more information on this history of this neighborhood, the Association has mapped out the six most significant sites.

Learn all the history right here

Cool Listings, Harlem

Listing images by Rise Media; courtesy of Compass

By day, Ron Dominguez worked as a doorman at some of the Upper East Side’s finest addresses—including 1040 Fifth Avenue, the building Jackie Kennedy Onassis called home. At his home in Harlem, he focused on his passion: collecting pop-surrealist art. “I don’t know any other doorman that happens to be a psychotic art collector,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 2014. “I was hustling a full-time job in one [building] and part-time in two others to support my art habit.” After a long career, Dominguez is moving to Cuba—the country his family fled in 1971—and his two-bedroom apartment is now on the market for $1.275 million, art not included.

Read more

affordable housing, Harlem, New Developments, Policy

la hermosa, harlem, central park north

Rendering by FXCollaborative

A Harlem church looking to rezone part of Central Park North revealed plans this week to incorporate a music school and cultural center to its proposal for a 33-story residential tower. During a City Planning Commission hearing on Wednesday, La Hermosa Christian Church and FXCollaborative presented their design for the apartment building and the three-story community facility space. Congregants and church officials say the building at 5 West 110th Street is deteriorating, with many of its spaces unusable and inaccessible. “The project that we’re proposing means the survival of our church,” La Hermosa Pastor Dan Feliciano told the commissioners.

Get the details

Harlem, Restaurants

Image © Frank Oudeman; courtesy of Columbia University

A new food hall is slated to open at Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus next year. It doesn’t have a name yet but it will be helmed by chef Franklin Becker—known for his fast-casual lunch chain, Little Beet—and will service Columbia students as well as the general public. Food options may include everything from Southern cuisine to Sicilian-style pizza to Spanish tapas, according to early reports from the Wall Street Journal. Speaking to the Journal, Becker said that bringing in a range of independent vendors—versus national food chains—will raise the bar for campus food.

Here’s what we know so far

affordable housing, Harlem, New Developments

East Harlem redevelopment, HPD, east harlem housing plan, east harlem, new developments, affordable housing

Park Avenue between East 118th and East 119th Streets (top); image via East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on Thursday issued a request for proposals to develop two city-owned East Harlem sites. The new developments are to include 350 units of affordable housing as well as retail and cultural and community space. The RFPs are part of the East Harlem Housing Plan, which was created with community input received through the East Harlem Neighborhood Planning Process.

Find out more

Celebrities, Harlem, Recent Sales

29 East 129th Street, Maya Angelou, Harlem, Brownstones

Image of Maya Angelou via Wiki Commons; listing images courtesy of Warburg Realty

In 2001, one year before Maya Angelou purchased her personal residence—an elegant brownstone in the Mount Morris Park Historic District—the late author and activist bought an investment property about 10 blocks away at 29 East 129th Street for only $275,000. During the years in which she resided in New York, she served as landlord of the three-family East Harlem property, comprised of a garden level duplex and two full-floor one-bedroom apartments. Angelou’s estate maintained the property following her death in 2014 and sold the residence to the current owner in 2016 for $1.98 million. The townhouse was most recently listed for $2.65 million in February 2018. A few price chops later, it finally found a new owner and closed for $2.3 million, as the New York Post reported.

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affordable housing, Harlem, Museums, New Developments

Rendering courtesy of Empire State Development

New York’s first civil rights museum will soon land in Harlem, as the city pushes forward with a new $260 million development near the Adam Clayton Powell office building on 125th Street. Empire State Development is planning a 17-story mixed-use building that, in addition to the museum, will house the headquarters of civil rights nonprofit National Urban League (which was founded in the neighborhood in 1910 and currently has offices downtown), office space (including below-market-rate for Harlem-based nonprofits), retail, and 170 affordable apartments targeted to New Yorkers making 30-80 percent of the area median income.

More details

Featured Story

Features, Harlem, Interiors, My SQFT House Tours

habiba koroma, mysqft house tours, harlem

Our series “My sqft” checks out the homes of New Yorkers across all five boroughs. Our latest interior adventure brings us to interior decorator Habiba Koroma’s apartment in Central Harlem. Want to see your home featured here? Get in touch!

Habiba Koroma always had an eye for design, but she never imagined her passion could be pursued professionally. It was not until her mother became ill that she gained the courage to follow her decorating dreams. But it wasn’t simple. After leaving her job at a nonprofit, Habiba went on many informational interviews, held an internship at a residential firm, and received her degree from the Parsons School of Design. Now as an interior design consultant for Restoration Hardware, Habiba has been able to surround herself with the latest trends, all while learning about materials and getting inspiration for her own place.

Both Habiba’s skill set and enthusiasm for design are on display in her Central Harlem apartment, which has been featured on Apartment Therapy and wallpaper company Spoonflower. Not only has she expertly mixed colors and patterns, but she’s also created a special–and kid-friendly–space for her three-year-old son Miles. Habiba transformed an IKEA bunk bed into a fun hideout for Miles, filled with books, toys, and a whiteboard. There’s even a colorful ball pit on the top bunk. Ahead, meet Habiba, tour her apartment, and learn how she keeps things Miles-friendly without ever sacrificing style.

Meet Habiba and tour her pad

Featured Story

Design, Features, Harlem, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the Harlem office of architectural lighting design firm Focus Lighting. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

After spending many years designing theatrical lighting, Paul Gregory decided to transition into the world of architectural lighting. He started his career working on nightclubs and in 1987, founded his own firm in his neighborhood of Harlem. Eight years later, Paul and his team at Focus Lighting garnered international recognization for their work on the Entel Tower in Santiago Chile, the world’s first automated color-changing building. Since then, the firm has grown to have 35 employees and nabs commissions such as the Times Square ball, Tavern on the Green, and the Waldorf Astoria (and that’s just here in NYC).

But through all their success, Focus has kept their offices in Harlem, now at 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, where their close-knit employees work collaboratively. The converted loft space has a unique light lab, similar to a black box theater, as well as a gallery space where the team can test out new means of digital architecture and video projects. 6sqft recently visited Focus Lighting to learn more about their fascinating work, tour the space, and chat with Focus partner and principal designer Brett Andersen and principal designer Christine Hope. Read more

affordable housing, Harlem, housing lotteries

Apollo Theater, Harlem, Black History Month

Photo via Flickr cc

Just three blocks north of bustling 125th Street, a brand new all-affordable building known as the Frederick has just opened the lottery for 59 of its 75 units. Ranging from $562/month studios to $2,158/month three-bedrooms, the mixed-income apartments are available to households earning 40, 50, 60, and 110 percent of the area median income. In addition to being right near local landmarks such as the Apollo and the Red Rooster, the 15-story building at 2395 Frederick Douglass Boulevard is just a block away from St. Nicholas Park and a few blocks from the A, C, B, and D trains.

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