Sunday, February 17, 2008

Harlem gentrification article in todays NY Times

There is an article in todays NY Times;

It's an ok article. Doesn't delve into the fact that Settepani is one of only a handful of restaurants/ other words there is a dearth of real 'gentrification' and just a token.....(oh and Settepani have done nothing to clean or improve the streetscape out the front of their building either).

It doesn't explain that in Marcus Garvey park you are more likely to come across a broken bottle or a used condom than a flower.

Also doesn't explain the "one shot" brownstone owners, people who are basically asking outrageously insane prices (in other words wasting brokers and buyers time) because they are hoping to sell their single asset that’s been passed down the generations "and get out of dodge" for good. In the interim however they are unable to afford or possibly unwilling, to keep up the maintenance on their building so you have these fantastic buildings in a rapid state of decay with a distressing streetscape.

Buying a shell for $2m that needs at least $1m worth of 'gut' renovations to make it even livable isn't a viable long term solution to an area in need of "people to power" gentrification.

Our Harlem 'experience' has been over for a few months now, basically we've decided to give the upper west side near Colombia a try.

I'm more concerned in a few years from now when long term residents of Harlem walk around and wonder what went wrong, why did the people leave, simple - they weren't welcome in the first place.




    I’ve re-read my post a few times in the last day to see if I’m being a bit harsh - maybe i am but I dont think so.

    It’s been a frustrating year here in Harlem, on one hand wanting to ‘find our space in the sun’ and improve the area and on the other hand just finding we are being priced out of the market and people are asking for insance prices I wouldn’t even want to pay downtown.

    I think for us what changed our love of the area was a recent shop opening on lennox and 118th.

    We looked forward with anticipation when we saw the construction occur…..only to find the resulting retail outlet less than appealing (I know I’m not the target audience but day glo orange?? are you for real?)

    What really gets me down is the lack of street cleaning and pride in the streets (oh and if I see one more person spit a big chunky one in front of me I’m going to scream). Your momma must be real proud.

    I dont understand why the city isn’t more vigilant in fines for loose trash and refuse on the sidewalks.

    Like I said - things may change, we still have another 3 months on our lease but for now we are looking at the south columbia area.


  2. Hi Dean,

    As a native NY'er, and onetime Harlem resident, the conditions you describe doesn't define the community; it's more a definition of the city itself, particularly the lack of cleanliness. Black neighborhoods citywide suffer from a lack of street cleaning. I'm not defending the lack of pride; but it used to be a LOT worse, and the efforts of community groups to get the city to work with us was continuously stifled. You get tired of fighting, trust me. A lot of the garbage cans and everything else, came because of gentrification.

    Oz, on the other hand, is damn near pristine, and folks check each other about litter, in way that New Yorkers are scared to––except for black women, but we get tired of checking.

    Aussie's also don't receive their goods in ALL OF THAT DAMN PACKAGING, that Americans so dearly love. I had to chuckle in a cafe in Darlinghurst, when the American in front of me on line, got pissed because he didn't get 5 napkins, 3 of which he'd probably toss in the street; Ugh. I dodged Americans, so my accent wouldn't stereotype me.

    Dean, you have some very legitimate points, but please––Harlemites didn't start the price gouging––they simply responded to the greed. And remember, cities in Australia are less populated than New York, with a much better handle on trash disposal and collection. Who else has a landfill, that can be seen from outer-space?

    Good luck on the Upper West Side, but watch out; there's a lot of high functioning on the surface, but deeply crazy on the inside people. And they're also a litigious bunch.