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.
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.
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
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
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.
Find out if you qualify
Image courtesy of NYCEDC.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has said it will begin the search for a nonprofit organization to operate the long-in-the-works Harlem African Burial Ground in East Harlem this fall. A decade of research and planning has gone into the task of converting the city block–home to the unused MTA 126th Street bus depot–into a cultural center and outdoor memorial that will honor its past state as a burial ground for enslaved and free African people. City officials say the project will make use of new apartments rising on a newly-rezoned adjoining site as an ongoing source of funding, as first reported by THE CITY.
Find out more
New York’s famous 369th (Old 15th) Infantry Regiment arrives home from France. Via the National Archives
In the earliest hours of May 15, 1918, Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts of the 369th Infantry Regiment, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black American unit serving under French command in World War I, were keeping guard over a frontline trench in France’s Argonne Forest, about 115 miles east of Paris. Suddenly, two-dozen German soldiers charged out of the pitch-black no-man’s-land. Despite being stabbed 21 times and shot at least twice, Johnson killed four German soldiers, repelled the other 20, and saved his injured comrade Roberts from capture, using little more than a nine-inch bolo knife. Days later, the French Army stood at attention as Johnson and Roberts became the first Americans ever awarded the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor. Johnson’s metal included a Golden Palm, for extraordinary valor.
Johnson and Robert’s decorations were the first of 171 individual Croix de Guerre medals awarded to members of the Harlem Hellfighters. By the war’s end, the Croix would be awarded to the unit as a whole, in recognition of its incredible contribution to the war effort: The Hellfighters spent a stunning 191 days at the Front, more than any other American unit. In that time, they never lost a trench to the enemy or a man to capture. Instead, they earned the respect of both allies and enemies, helped introduce Jazz to France, and returned home to a grateful city where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to welcome home 3,000 Hellfighter heroes in a victory parade that stretched from 23rd Street and 5th Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox.
The whole history
View of the proposed new tower, looking north from 5th Avenue and 108th Street
A church has filed an application with New York City to rezone a strip of Central Park North in order to make way for a new mixed-use tower. La Hermosa Christian Church is seeking zoning changes to all or part of at least five lots along West 110th Street, as first reported by YIMBY. A 188-page environmental assessment statement prepared for the Department of City Planning this week details the development of a 33-story mixed-use tower with 160 units, of which roughly 48 would be affordable.
See the plan
Rendering courtesy of The Janus Property Group.
From the mid-19th to early 20th century, an area in West Harlem known as Manhattanville was a bustling industrial village dotted with factories and breweries. Now the area is transforming from a unique former factory district into a home for a growing roster of commercial businesses, nonprofits, and students and researchers from Columbia University and CUNY’s City College. Leading the way on developing this evolving neighborhood is Janus Property Group. The company announced that its 11-story Taystee Lab building will break ground next week, bringing the city’s first major life science campus to the site of a former bread bakery.
More uptown excitement, this way
Joe Cruz Jr. (right) at the Jalisco distillery
With Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, New Yorkers most certainly have margaritas on the brain. And while we may typically associate tequila with Mexico, a new label here in NYC is bridging the divide between our southern neighbor and local entrepreneurship. Joe Cruz Jr. grew up in Harlem, spending much of his younger years hanging out in the Bronx. After working in the beverage industry for many years, he decided to take a mere $25,000 and create his own “ultra-smooth” tequila right from Harlem. And so in late 2017, YaVe Tequila was born. Not only has the company garnered culinary headlines (it produces the first-ever mango-flavored tequila), but it’s caught the attention of local stakeholders thanks to Joe’s commitment to working with his neighborhood.
Read on for our interview with Joe