Harlem’s gentrification and increasing real estate prices aren’t news at this point, but a local community board thinks certain real estate brokers have crossed a line. As DNAinfo reports, Keller Williams created a separate office for “SoHa,” their new branding for South Harlem. Following in the footsteps of NoLo (SoHo + Nolita + Lower East Side), DoBro (Downtown Brooklyn), and Hellsea (Hell’s Kitchen + Chelsea), the moniker is seen as an attempt to make buyers and renters feel like they’re cashing in on the next trendy ‘hood. But residents of the Central Harlem area, roughly West 110th to 125th Streets, feel the marketing tactic is “arrogant” and “disrespectful,” and so Community Board 10 has introduced a resolution that would prevent brokers from using the nickname.
Danni Tyson, a real estate broker herself and member of the community board, told DNAinfo “it’s like trying to take the black out of Harlem,” adding, “Harlem is Harlem.” Similarly, board chair Brian Benjamin feels the name ignores the neighborhood’s history and character. “Our position is, there are a lot of people who put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears, who made Harlem what it is. These attempts to rename neighborhoods for business gain are disrespectful to the neighborhood. Our job is to protect the community and not have people come in and feel like they can push the community around,” he said. He says the board plans to protest the use of SoHa, but it’s not clear exactly what, if any, legal ramifications there could be.
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