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Alan, one of these days ....
mrs1007 you ask an interesting question. Yes Hamilton Heights has issues but nothing that isn't being resolved. The question is, are you wanting to invest in one of the last places in Manhattan that you can buy low and the value of your property increases at a faster rate than downtown Manhattan.
Think of it this way. If these minor inconveniences were not present, yet being resolved by the NYPD, wouldn't the price be commensurate to Downtown prices?
mrs1007, houses of worship = someplace you can walk to from your home on Sabbath - don't know if that's still being used in ads - not only do I see some really great looking massive apartment buildings in HH, but I've noticed those buildings getting renovated over the past decades - once upon a time few people would even have noticed that there were some beauties up there - now they're sandblasted, etc. I think it's a great move.
Lowery, the only ones I know of that fit that bill in Hamilton Heights are social-service agencies and HDFCs and the like.
It is still early in the season, but the 30th Precinct really has cracked down on the noise issues associated with the stoop parties this year.
alan, you mean apt bldgs or houses of worship?
Here's some more real estate nonsequiturs: "cozy studio." All studios ought to be cozy; that's a subjective term. When used in ads it means it's a closet impossible to turn around in. "Needs TLC." All homes need tender loving care; that's what makes anyplace a home. When used in ads it means this place is a wreck. "Move-in condition." You can't rent an apartment if doesn't have a door that locks, running water and heat. By definition if you're offering it for rent it MUST be in move-in condition. "Move-in condition - just bring your toothbrush!" Not a good idea. Any dental hygienist will tell you toothpaste is as essential as a toothbrush, and dental floss and mouthwash. And if you're spending the night somewhere you'd be well advised to bring a change of underwear and a towel at the very least. "Zoned for P.S. XXXXX" Irrelevant - your kids are lucky to get a place in whatever school has openings, no matter where the map says they're entitled to register.
I can't think of any neighborhood that doesn't have houses of worship. The Bronx is loaded with not only Catholic churches, but evangelical congregations on nearly every block. "Near houses of worship," however, was usually seen in ads for Kew Gardens/Forest Hills, Midwood, Borough Park, Fresh Meadows, blah blah. And I'm wondering why people never ask whether Kips Bay/Murray Hill is a good neighborhood for families. There might be the biggest concentration of recent college and post-college grads in that section, especially on Thursday nights. Love the neighborhood, but is it really a good place for families? How about Chelsea? Sure, the galleries and restaurants and boutiques are swell, but, I mean, with so many single men aged 25-45, should I bring my wife and daughters there? No, there are more fire hydrants to play in on hot summer nights in Hamilton Heights, and all those children romping together under the watchful eye of their parents and grandparents playing dominos on milk cartons. Much more appropriate for families.
I mean apartment buildings. For example, RSD/135 -- housing for battered women, their children, and people who are good at working the system. RSD/140 (formerly a Victorian church) -- housing for ex-convicts (albeit very well-behaved ones).
As for the hydrants, these are opened by old men who enjoyed seeing their own children splashing around in the water in 1968, and take great delight in turning every hydrant on full blast, no sprinkler cap, on every warm day and night. Today's children, however, are up in their air-conditioned apartments playing computer games.
The watchful eyes are mostly those of corner boys.
thanks for the update, alan - Trinity Church's uptown annex provides a nice house of worship - the kids splashing in the water in the 1980s are now local beat cops, I suppose
"As for the hydrants, these are opened by old men who enjoyed seeing their own children splashing around in the water in 1968, and take great delight in turning every hydrant on full blast, no sprinkler cap, on every warm day and night."
And since they're not worried about having to work for a living, they don't give a rat's ass about the people who can't take showers to get ready for work because now there's no water pressure in any of the surrounding buildings.
in any of the surrounding walk-up buildings
Matt -- Thank God for hard-working -- and clean -- people like you saving us all.
Yeah, god save the queen
hmmmm............... sounds like the voice of experience - hey, Matt, I thought you said up there above 181st and west of Broadway was "different" - don't tell me YOUR neighbors are opening up the hydrants in the summer - couldn't be!
mrs1007 - good luck on your move to HH - I've been in the neighborhood for 6 years and have seen lots of changes. Changes that you will like and some of the long term residents will dislike. I'm like you and think a neighborhood full of college educated people is better than one full of people collecting government subsidies; so I prefer the general direction of the neighborhood.
The general trend towards college educated residents picked up a lot of steam in 2006 and 2007 but then lost it's steam and things actually went backwards in 2009 and 10. In 09 and 10 when apartments became vacant landlords couldn't find college educated people to fill them anymore. There were few new-hires in NYC then and because housing became more affordable (with looser credit requirements) more people moved south of 96th. But the trend is reversing now. Now most vacancies are filled by educated people again. And, landlords are now much less likely to have rents low enough that they are forced to accept a tenant who will pay their rent with a government program (that is, if the section 8 maximum is $1,800 for a three bed and the market rate renters will pay $2,000 for a three bedroom then no landlord will accept Section 8). Finding a landlord willing to accept a "non-working" tenant is nearly impossible now in HH, but a year ago many landlords would take these programs.
Over the next few years HH will progress faster than it has in the last 30 years. Columbia is coming but that won't be the main driver. The main driver is that rental rates in NYC are headed much higher as new hires arrive. Many of these new hires will unable to qualify for housing south of 96th and will need to move to more affordable neighborhoods. Moving to a roommate share in HH will be a very viable option (especially considering how expensive Brooklyn has become). Because there are no projects in HH and because of the 1,A,B,C and D trains it's a very viable neighborhood. Services will come, but not for a couple more years. It will take a couple of summer cycles of new hires before more service providers will take the leap. Many got burned in 2008 so they'll be more careful this time.
But make no mistake about it, HH will improve faster than any other part of Harlem over the next 5 years.
PS - realize that groups of guys standing on the corner are often 100% harmless. They live with their parents in small apartments. What else are they going to do? Where else are they going to go? If you were 22, unemployed, and lived in your parents wouldn't you want to get out of the house during the day?
"PS - realize that groups of guys standing on the corner are often 100% harmless."
Agreed. I hear the word "gangs" all the time used by people who don't know what the @#)$(* they're talking about. BTW, there was a color coded map of the city linked somewhere on a SE post a year or two ago that showed net changes in median or (pick your metric) prices for homes by neighborhood. The one I remember showing the most dramatic increase was by far Hudson Heights. Taking a look from a few hundred feet further back, it's not difficult to see that what's happening is exactly what Jazzman is describing - a certain subset of recent arrivals to the metro area chasing around the "cheaper" areas their friends and coworkers have preceded them in, driving the prices up to closer to the areas people like them would have flooded into 5, 10, 15 years earlier, narrowing the price gap. They skipped over Hamilton Heights. NYCMatt's pronouncement that it will never happen notwithstanding, Hamilton Heights will catch up to Hudson Heights in prices and then eventually overtake it.
By the way, I don't think anyone mentioned Riverbank State Park.
> Now most vacancies are filled by educated people again. And, landlords are now much less likely to have rents low enough that they are forced to accept a tenant who will pay their rent with a government program (that is, if the section 8 maximum is $1,800 for a three bed and the market rate renters will pay $2,000 for a three bedroom then no landlord will accept Section 8). Finding a landlord willing to accept a "non-working" tenant is nearly impossible now in HH, but a year ago many landlords would take these programs
very interesting! section 8 was inflating mkt rates in the edgy neighborhoods, now that the program is in dire straits i doubt those rent limits are going to be lifted given that there's no $ to provide new vouchers for new applicants (the waiting list is "frozen"). wonder how many tenants in bronx or uptown manhattan are section 8 and what are their rent limits for each type of unit. do you know where to look for this info?
"Unfortunately due to a lack of sufficient funding at this time, the New York City Housing Authority will no longer accept any new Section 8 voucher applications or process existing Section 8 vouchers."
So are you saying that without the price support of inflated Section 8 funding, the rents won't stay as high? Or are you thinking Section 8 tenants will be leaving their neighborhoods for even poorer neighborhoods?
What is happening right now is that no new Section 8 tenants (as well as other program tenants like worker's advantage, HASA etc) can find a place to rent in HH. Despite what Section 8 will tell you there are still emergency vouchers being giving out and anyone with a a Section 8 voucher anywhere in the USA can transfer that voucher at any time.
Market rate rents are once again back above (or perhaps at) the maximums these programs will pay. When the market rates fell over the last 3 years, the programs were actually paying more than the market. So landlords were taking programs, now that market is once again higher there is no need to take the programs (they bring worse tenants and now they bring less money).
Section 8 maximums are - one bed $1,387 two-bed $1,543 three-bed $1,899 - these numbers are healthy rents but you have to realize that, best case scenario, the apartment will sit vacant for at least two months while the section 8 application is processed.
Now consider the section 8 tenants who moved in over the last three years. If they are rent stabilized they will stay long term. If they are market rate (or have a preferential rent) then the landlord will most likely renew the rent if the tenant pays their portion and doesn't cause any trouble. But if the section 8 tenant is a dirt-bag (the kind you don't want to be your neighbor) then the landlord will not renew the lease, will renovate the apartment again and will move in educated tenants. This is the reason the neighborhood is going to change so quickly. Not only will you have the normal turnover in 2011 but you'll get extra turnover as market rates increase because landlords won't renew the leases of the bad tenants who have moved in over the last three years.
Thx, Jazzman. IOW, Section 8 doesn't drive the rental market in HH. Other way around.
There has also been no mention of the West Harlem/ Hamilton Heights rezoning (not to be confused with the Columbia rezoning of Manhattanville). I attended the last community meeting- and it seems most of the plan has been accepted by the community- although the rezoning of 145th street is still in contention. The rezoning essentially limits the heights of new buildings in much of the community. On 145th street- the 4 corners of Broadway and 145 would be upzoned since it is a major transportation hub. There is still a lot of tension regarding the 145th street corridor- and the meeting sort of tap danced around the issue of PS 186. To relate back to this thread- the rezoning allows for a limit on building heights, but will allow builders to add some additional floors if they add an affordable housing component to the plan. For further detail on the rezoning see: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/west_harlem/presentation.shtml?utm_source=CB9M+Land+Use+and+Zoning&utm_campaign=4bf22e0bac-Land+Use+%26+Zoning+Agenda+-+5%2F17%2F2011%2F5_17_2011&utm_medium=email
lowery - correct - programs are no longer a driver of rents in HH (a great sign for the neighborhood).
The best way to follow the improvement of a neighborhood is to see who is renting the vacant units. If the vacant units are rented by the uneducated don't expect improvements. But when people like mrs1007 move into a neighborhood she and her like will demand better.
Better schools, cleaner streets, better retail, better politicians etc. For instance she'll call 311 when a fire hydrant is running, she'll call the cops when guys are selling drugs on her corner, she'll call a city councilman when the streets aren't cleaned, she'll be at every school board meeting until her kids get a good education etc - that's why people will call her a pioneer but she won't be alone - soon enough we'll pick up steam here. It only takes a small nucleus of a noisy minority of newcomers to affect very positive change in the neighborhood.
Update; Now that we've decided to move up there, the place we fell in love with might be falling through - long story short the seller's broker is being a slimeball and making new demands every time we meet the old ones, and also not returning calls for weeks at a time now that we are set with our financing - it's all been very frustrating. But this thread has definitely opened our eyes to a whole other neighborhood we would consider, so thank you all for your input. We may be up this way soon one way or the other.
My two cents - we have noticed that the area we were looking in 148-152 on Riverside seems very peaceful and quiet, and have come up many different days and times. We did notice some police activity on a Sunday afternoon further down, around 140 and Broadway, and also noticed the area looked more rundown on Amsterdam from the 150s down than on Broadway. We had a very nice brunch at Tonalli's and a nice lunch at El Tierra Cafeteria the other weekend, and the restaurant in Riverbank State Park looks really good too! So, like our current neighborhood on the UWS, it seems to vary block by block, and Broadway seems more updated than Amsterdam.
Sorry that you've run into a bad agent. Try putting yourself in the agent's shoes though - it could just be that the buying process is more complicated than you might think????? Perhaps someone on this board knows the broker/agent or perhaps his/her boss and can help mediate?
Correct - count on the retail on Broadway to be much better than the retail on Amsterdam for years to come. It will be very interesting to see what comes in at the newly opened space on 148th and Broadway. My hope is that it's something great, but my guess is that it will take a while to fill. We'll see.
mrs1007 - I don't even know you and I feel sick and disappointed for you - damn!
Echoing Jazzman's comments. Children get good education because their parents care about them and take an active role in it, not because they live in Scarsdale or Alpine. I think we'd all be kidding you a bit, though, to say there are no projects in HH. Maybe not within the boundaries of HH, but there are projects down the hill radiating out from the 125th St./St. Nick intersection. This may also be the intersection of the three precincts, and wherever those three precincts intersect is definitely considered by NYPD "drug prone" and "gang prone." Eyes wide open.
There are actually a couple of public housing projects in Hamilton Heights- just not outsized. One is right near the 30th precinct on Amsterdam. As to 125 and St Nick area...those are outsized and troubling though just far enough area as to not impact Hamilton Heights significantly.
I don't think the buildings on Amsterdam near the precinct are projects - I thought they we subsidized by a different program right?? The buildings on 132nd and Broadway (right across from the Columbia expansion) are projects but from 135th to 155th west of St Nich there aren't any projects. Right? Regardless, we all agree that there's a huge block of housing in HH that isn't adversely affected by project housing.
It would be great for the neighborhood if every time a vacancy came up in the buildings across from Columbia that we could put some Columbia grad students or married students in those buildings at a rate way above current rates but below market rate. It would be good for the existing tenants to have better neighbors and it would be nice for a Columbia student to get affordable housing right across the street from campus. And it would be good for NYCHA to get a higher rent to help with their financial/maintenance issues.
If we aren't going to tear down the projects let's at least integrate them over time.
No, the intersect of three precincts is not in Hamilton Heights itself. It does have a nasty reputation, but it won't affect anyone living on Riverside in the 140s directly. Long-term they'll be surrounded by Columbia Univ. and by yet another affluent Manhattan neighborhood, which in turn are surrounded by more affluent Manhattan neighborhoods, each with NYCHA projects sort of buried inside. I don't believe the area will be affordable for most working people, though. Oh, and about "amenities" in Harlem - I tried getting a table at Red Rooster, just north of 125th St., and --- nothing available.
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that the projects south of 135th street were Hamilton Heights. I simply meant that they were large and not too far from the southern border of Hamilton Heights and may effect the neighborhood somewhat. In the 5 years I have lived here, I honestly have not heard many complaints from the residents when I attend the police community meetings about the southern border area of the neighborhood. I also seem to recall there was another housing project on the southern side of 155th street closer to the eastern end of the border (though admittedly I don't head that way too often, so my memory could be faulty). Again, not outsized, and in the grand scheme of the neighborhood- negligible.
no, s, I knew you weren't saying it was in HH - my "no" was agreeing with you - I just thought it's possible mrs didn't know about that little area that's indeed a trouble spot because most of the rest of people's comments were on the more positive side - you and I agree overall
Well they got the part about the new construction condo's wrong. There aren't many in Hamilton Heights- but there is certainly more than one. I am aware of five new construction condo's with a sixth nearing completion on St. Nicholas (and possibly a seventh between Convent and Amsterdam and 150th that seems to be nearly finished but I haven't heard anything about-rentals or condos, I don't know).
Mrs1007 - Hamilton Heights is fine. It is getting better. This is not meant as a racial prejudiced comment (too all you sensitive commentators). Once other people see people who live there respecting the area and their neighbors, they change, and the place changes for the better. There are still old buildings that will eventually get knocked down. Some will stay. What is missing from Hamilton Heights, at the moment, are the things like Cafe's that you can go sit at on a Sunday morning on Broadway, take your dog, people watch, read, etc. That probably won't take place for another 3-4 years but by then the price will already have gone up.
Samerun - new condos on 143 and Riverside.
"i don't know of any non-latin living there that hadn't complain about reggaeton."
Actually Hamilton Heights is Not like Washington Heights. I lived right on W174th and St. Nicholas and that stupid idiot loud-partying reggeton stoop party crap is the WORST nightmare, because it echoes downs the streets at 4am in the morning. Washington Heights is "lawless" territory." The police don't care. Not only that, it is DIRTY. People throw everything on the ground. Hell I've tripped over frozen waffles and diapers dumped on the sidewalk. It is because of this disrespectful partying and littering that I bought a place in Hamilton Heights. It is, thankfully, quieter, and now nicer.
They are also opened up a new rental building at 620 W143
Well, I'm almost sorry to say that this thread made us feel excited about moving to Hamilton Heights. We put a bid in that was accepted on a short sale and were approved for a loan. We discussed with the seller's agent, Mic Murphy, that we needed to use FHA financing. After being told we would have 2-3 months for the short sale to close and that FHA financing would be completely fine, we paid $$ to have the place approved for FHA financing. Then, the seller's agent - Mic Murphy - suddenly stopped returning our calls. He said he sent a contract to our attorney but she never received it. He said "we were his buyer" and we believed him all the way until I saw the property listed as "in contract," and not with us. We are out money and a LOT of time that we can't get back and no small amount of effort and frustration. Be warned, Mic Murphy is only out to help one person, himself.
Sorry you had to go through all that.
Your attorney might be able to advise you on how to notify the bank that will be doing the short sale approval. If Mic Murphy maintained the illusion of an open listing only to bring in a subpar offer for short sale approval, the bank (and the authoratays) will be very very unhappy with Mic Murphy and his license.
On the other hand, it is Mic Murphy's job to bring in the best offer for his client, and in NY it's not a deal until both parties sign.
Also, if it's any consolation, navigating the mortgage process while dealing with the uncertainties of the short sale process is a formula for unhappiness. Wait for the foreclosure/REO sales ... they're much easier, especially in a condo.
mrs1007 - you'll find another great property. especially in the area you've been looking. for those who know our story - we actually fell through on several places before landing on the one we own now. it's sort of like having children - you forget the agony and adore the one you get.
Jazzman - I agree with many of your posts. It's great to have others helping to defend the area against some of the more insane criticism by people who have obviously not been to the area since the 80s. I don't mind legit criticism but some people go entirely overboard and are delve into complete insanity.
Kids are heavily influenced by there peers academically. Every study ever done says so. All else equal, kids of all backgrounds do better in better schools.
jason - as a mother of young children I couldn't be more interested in this issue. NYC, in general, presents an interesting situation. We used to live downtown and still agonized over whether to do private vs public. I don't think this is a question specific to Hamilton/Washington Heights. Just look at the KIPP Academy - better schools aren't always in "better" neighborhoods. With enough attention and research, you can find the right education for your child wherever you live.
I disagree with your last comment. You are not going to find any families who value education, did the research, and didn't end up with any palatable choices, because they moved. Everyone who stayed is happy or at least not miserable because they found what they were looking for (if they were looking).
nyc10023--disagree with my last comment? unless i'm reading wrong we seem to agree?
We recently purchased a house on 144th and Convent. I have appreciated reading all the comments supporting MRS1007's decision-making process (and have been entertained by some of the more... ahem... colorful threads). We are committed to supporting the development of the neighborhood and truly believe the area has great potential. My question to the group is this: How do we make it happen? I'd be interested in knowing what the group's take is on what would spur the changes people are hoping for. Is it a matter of making people aware of the area (a la NYTimes)? Is it a matter of investment - time or money or both? Is it patience? We're here for the long haul (I can envision my children bringing their west-coast born college roommates home for thanksgiving like mine did me) so my question is largely academic. Nevertheless, I'd be interested in long-time HH residents' thoughts.
PS - Mrs1007, don't despair. If someone had told us what we would have gone through to get this place I never would have started the journey. Our deal fell through 3X due to a combination of factors - sketchy appraiser (who demanded $$ for a "reasonable" appraisal), REO property/short sale, skittish seller, disorganized bank. You name it. Point is, there's hope yet. And don't worry - it's all "normal".
moxiemax -hope you are enjoying the neighborhood - the key to improving the neighborhood is the public schools - if you had a public school that got an 7 or better on GreatSchools.org then people would flock to HH. You can still find a decent 4 bedroom apartment for $2,400. Imagine that a family with 3 kids could give each of their kids their own bedroom for the price of Manhattan proper studio.
Plus you mix in groups of 4 new hires who just moved to the City (each paying just $600/month for their own room) with their energy and eagerness to work and produce - it would create an awesome vibe. But alas, the teacher's union would never allow our schools to improve because it would mean they would have to fire bad teachers. And before apologists for the teacher's union jump on let me just say I disagree with you in advance. Our schools in HH are bad because we hire the wrong adults - end of story.
Since the schools have no chance in the foreseeable future, we must rely on new hires to bring energy to the neighborhood. 60,000 new jobs created in NYC so far this year is a great sign for the neighborhood. We're certainly headed in the right direction now. These next 3 years will be very transformative. You bought at the right time that's for sure. Congrats.
mrs1007, did you find another place in HH, or did you settle elsewhere?
Others, wondering if you have thoughts on the recent addition of services to the neighborhood: Chipped Cup, Harlem Public, La Condessa, etc. Hoping we'll see more...
My 24 yr old son is moving to HH - 149th and Broadway. How safe is the walk from the subway? He will also have his car for work - is it difficult to find parking, and will his car be safe?
I've read many positive comments about HH, but when I called the police to ask about the crime stats, the officer told me that he wouldn't want his son living there! I can't tell my son what to do, he's an adult, but I'm very concerned.
Can anyone calm my fears? He leaves very early for work, in the dark, and returns late at night.
Thanks in advance:)
I've been in the neighborhood for years. Parking is not great, but not terrible either. Walking any time of day/night is as safe as any other part of Manhattan. I have plenty of single, college educated woman as tenants who renew their leases year after year. Hopefully he did move in, if he did he's right next to Harlem Public - a great bar with a great crowd. Other new restaurants are opening up too, the place is improving faster than any neighborhood in the CIty.
The crime stats are publicly available-on the NYC.gov site and doesn't support what the officer you spoke to said. I went into contract here in mid-2005, and moved in early 2006 and the change in the neighborhood since then is dramatic. My parents (who both grew up in the bronx in the 1950's/1960's) thought I had lost my mind spending all my money on a condo in this neighborhood- they are stunned, and have now admitted that I was smart for ignoring the neighsayers. I do have a friend that works in a different precinct within Harlem, and she has a friend on the force that lives here- both see things from a similar perspective that I do.
Actually the change in just the last year has been dramatic and positive. I can't speak to the parking situation- since I sold the car shortly after moving in. I often take the subway during the late night hours- and walking home from the subway late at night isn't any more dangerous than if I lived in the West Village. I know that 149th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway has a really strong block association and friends that live on that block love it. One is leaving the area for awhile, but hopes to come back- we are both concerned that when he comes back in a year or two that he will be priced out, as the neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying.
no real gentrifying will happen, look at what kind of people jam the election day, you know who's running the block
semerun - I see exactly what you're seeing, specifically regarding the changes over the last year. The easiest way to gauge the speed of gentrification is by analyzing who is moving into vacant apartments. My applicants this year (similar to 2005,6, 7 and 8) are educated and have solid credit scores - a year ago I couldn't find a person with a social security number to apply (similar to 2009 and 2010). The tide has definitely turned.
This summer will yield more new move-ins than we've seen in decades. Rental rates have jumped 20% and many of my tenants who moved in during 2009-2011 can't afford the new rates. Accordingly they will move out and be replaced by more credit worthy tenants with better education/income. These new tenants will support new retail stores which will provide a better standard of living for all. It's exciting to see. My hope is that the newcomers stay a while and that they do whatever it takes to clean up the public schools in the neighborhood.
Bahamas, its possible that the officer you spoke to is FROM the neighborhood (NYPD rules prohibit officers from living in their precinct--at least they used to--but not from serving where they grew up) and he's tired of newcomers paying rents that will eventually force his friends and family out. On the other hand, he might have meant what he said because cops, by definition, have more exposure to the sordid side of any neighborhood than civilians. Of course lastly, he could be a flat out racist. NYPD has come a LONG way in promoting sensitivity and diversity (I live near the Police Academy and my highly unscientific "eye survey" of cadets estimates at least 50% are people of color) but in any group of 30,000 or so people there are bound to be a few bad apples.
I love it up here. We're on 157/Broadway. Three kids and a Bullmastiff. The apartments are large and, of late, we're finally getting amenities.
I love it here too.
Anyone have any intel on when the guys from Tuck It Away will finally be forced to sell their storage buildings in the Columbia expansion site?
Just watch your backs when you're up there in Harlem.
Especially if you've had a few too many sidecars [as if that's even possible!] at a fancy tony upscale joint like Harlem Pubes that caters to blueblood downtown types.
bully for your bullmastiff--such great dogs, and great with kids--had one who adorned my pickup truck waaaay back in the day
I have no intel on the Tuck It Away site- but it's a certainty that the building will be forced to sell, so I haven't given it much thought. Columbia has finally started moving forward on the demolition on retail site at Broadway and 148th this week. More pressing on my mind is what is going to happen to the former Hamilton Theather (most recently El Mundo) at Broadway and 146th. While the buildings are landmarked- Harlem Bespoke is reporting of rumors of condos. While I would love to see market rate condo's on the vacant lot adjacent to the theather on 147th st (which was part of the sale of the building), but I would love to see the theater portion restored.
As to alan's comments, I have no idea if he has been inside Harlem Public- but I was there tonight and it was a very diverse crowd...a few blueblood downtown types- but not at all catered specifically to them.
Convent Avenue is nice
Yes! Convent Avenue is so lovely!
But all of this neighborhood is great overall, and has been for years. It's only getting nicer (more gentrified without losing its character and unpretentious charm) all the time. It's safe, friendly, peaceful, full of beautiful architecture, and always lively. Our mix of subway trains is very convenient (A, C, D, 1), and parking seems Ok for those who care. We are convenient to plenty of other parts of the city, for commutes and for fun. I moved here in 2007 and have worked here since 2002. I'd love a few more restaurants--and I have every confidence they'll be coming soon. Everywhere I look, I see happy families putting down roots in the neighborhood. Let's hear it for Hamilton Heights.
Where do you shop for groceries?
Uptown2012, more restaurants are on the way- and soon. It seems Amsterdam near City College is poised for a rather quick change. The Grange (a bar with home-style country cooking) @ 141st and Amsterdam is opening in the next 4-6 weeks. Coccola (Pizza/Italian) opened a few weeks back @ 139th and Amsterdam. I heard that an Indian restaurant is supposed to open @ 138 and Amsterdam soon too. I also heard that an Italian styled cafe is likely opening on 145th near Amsterdam. Uncle Marks is confirmed as closed- though not much of a loss, they just couldn't see to find their identity.
Groceries-every few weeks I have been noticing the C-Town has been upgrading appearance and selections. If you want better selections- you are likely traveling to Fairway on 12th Ave or Whole Foods @ Columbus Circle.
Doesn't Fresh Direct deliver there? That would solve most grocery problems with just needing a bodega to fill in the extra quart of milk, bottle of soda etc?
Plus all the United States Department of Agriculture farm-surplus distribution centers. They have cheese for free.
And you can buy a cigarette from the young men on the corner, so you don't even need to go all the way to the bodega to buy your cigarette.
Alan, you don't like the Upper West Side, Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, or Fort George. Where are you?
What's Columbia's expansion plan in the area?
The campus expansion ends a block or two south of Hamilton Heights in Manhattanville. However, Columbia did purchase the entire stretch of property on the west side of Broadway between 147th and 148th. They are using this property to relocate those that will need to move due to the Manhattanville campus expasion. Currently, Columbia has relocated a church to this block on the 147th st end of the block. On the 148th street side of this block, they are completing demolition in the next week or so for a 12 story building. The new building will be home to a co-op for those displaced from Manhattanville as well as the church they relocated to the other parcel on this block. Columbia has not announced what it will do with the property where the church currently resides on the 147th street end of this stretch on Broadway.
Semerun, you are the all-knowing source for Hamilton Heights info! I walk around the neighborhood and think "What's up with this or that (like the former El Mundo site) ... I bet Semerun knows!" And voila--indeed you do.
As for groceries, guys, we are not talking a remote, developing world location. Hamilton Heights is on Manhattan island. It's even fancy (in spots)--check out the $3.5 million townhouse for sale down the street from me (http://www.elliman.com/new-york-city/393-convent-avenue-manhattan-wzobfly) Anyway, one of the best supermarkets I've ever seen in Manhattan is on 138th at Broadway. Big, great selection including many exciting foreign foods, and super prices. We have two perfectly adequate C-Towns. Over my way, is a nice, small but friendly FoodTown. I also shop at lots of the smaller groceries on Broadway--why not? But my standbys are FreshDirect--of course they deliver here, why wouldn't they?--and Fairway. Since it's a steep hill up from Fairway, I wait until I'm ready to do a big shop, then walk down there and take a cab back with the bags. It costs about the same as a delivery, and that way I get delivered home, too.
The Columbia big project down at 125th is slowly and steadily proceeding. City College is doing a little expansion, too--two new science towers on our south campus. Academic gentrification is certainly a force, but the neighborhood is steadily upscaling itself all the time without reference to any of the colleges. Geography is destiny. They aren't making more Manhattan island, and accessible neighborhoods with good housing stock inevitably attract attention.
As for restaurants, I am beyond thrilled to hear about the Indian place--I keep making lists of which cuisine I most hope will pop up next in our neighborhood. I haven't been in Coccola yet, but it sure looks as if it's a new project of the folks who brought us the late lamented Cafe Largo down on Broadway. And if so, that's a good thing. Too bad about Uncle Mark's--I found it cosy. But the Grange should be a great addition, so there we go.
For those of you who are amused by making slighting and inaccurate remarks about our neighborhood, phooey. What do you know and what do you care? We live here and like it and are getting to enjoy a good place getting better all the time. Streeteasy is such a great resource, but it's tedious when people just take the opportunity to express snarky ill will for no reason. People who live in Hamilton Heights are lucky and we know it.
Thank you for the kind words Uptown. I am a bit miffed that Everyblock (a hyperlocal news site) shut down. It was a rich source of information local to Harlem that I often wasn't seeing anywhere else.
The Columbia and City College expansions along with other improvements will radically transform West Harlem above 125th street in the years to come. I haven't heard any recent updates on the former Tastee Cake factory complex (126th street near Amsterdam) in awhile, but last I heard Harlem Brewing Company was planning on relocating there from a site upstate. With these investments and a recent rezoning- I could easily see the area in the vicinity of the Mink building becoming an area for science and tech startups (perhaps somewhat similiar to the startups just outside MIT) with these two campus expansions. Since there is little in the way for additional housing in Manhattanville - I always suspected that Hamilton Heights will benefit from all of these improvements.
Coccola is by the same guy that created Bettolonia on Broadway just south of 125th street and a couple of other restaurants on the UWS. I was initially concerned about the choice of location (as opposed to something like across the street from Harlem Public)- but with all the new restaurants coming into that section of Amsterdam, I have renewed hope. Don't misunderstand, I only went to Coccola once, but thought the food was great- but the it was dead on a Saturday evening. I liked the decor of Uncle Marks- but the menu was trying to be as diverse as a greek diner but was trying to be a ribs joint. The food was inconsistent as was the service- which is why I felt they didn't really have a grasp on an identity. I think Cafe Largo and the related restaurants next door would have been ideal if they weren't so early into the neighborhood transition.
As to all of those that make inaccurate remarks about the neighborhood- it was all true at one point, but not so much anymore. When my dad came home from service in the Vietnam war, he worked at a meat packing plant full time while getting his bachelors at night. He had to run for his life from the gangs when leaving work a few times. Today, that meat packing plant is now the Fairway on 12th Ave in Manhattanville (the Fairway cold room was originally the meat storage room). His past experiences colored his opinion of the area- and the reason my parents thought I was crazy investing into this neighborhood. It took a few years to convince them that the improvements were real and substantial- but now they are excited about the changes and have admitted they were wrong.
The funy thing is that crime is so low in NYC IN GENERAL that upper Manhattan crime rates are lower than crime rates in MOST large American cities peoe might other wise assume are safe.
You've all mentioned many of the great trends of our neighborhood. Let me add that City College continues to get better. There are 16,000 students at the school and most still live at home. BUT as the price of college goes up and the confidence students have about taking on 100k plus of student debt the student body is changing. Kids are now choosing City has an affordable alternative.
It is not uncommon for me to have "rich" kids (ie parents who make $150k/yr or so) from Long Island apply for my vacant apartments. with their parents as the guarantors. Before 2010 I never saw this happen, today it's a regular occurrence. It will take a few years but expect 139th and Amsterdam to get much younger/livelier.
Also let me add that the public schools in our neighborhood are awful. If we could ever get a decent elementary school up here then more educated families would move to the area. For now, thoughtful parents play the charter school game, or get their kids placed in a school outside the area.
Finally, let me at a plug for Tonalli (150/Broadway). I really like their food, don't forget about that place.
Semerum...How horribly ironic that your father was able to get through Vietnam only to have to run for his life in NYC. (And I have heard similar stories from other vets.) That was what the city was like then and yes in the public safety area no one can argue against 2013 being a vast improvement over 1973 (or 1983 or even 1993). And certainly neighborhoods grocery stores especially ones that still have significant lower income population. But I can't help think that the meat packing plant probably employed skilled butchers and others at significantly higher wages than Fairway pays its staff. Certainly the meat market downtown (now known as "meatpacking) was a source of higher wage blue collar employment that supported families while now the only people making money there are fashionable restauranteurs and scantily clad bottle girls.
Jazzman: a small objection to your turn of phrase - "get a decent elementary school". What it would take is for college-educated parents and/or educationally-motivated immigrant parents to send their kids there. Same infrastructure, same DOE, same staff.
There should be iron clad school choice for NYC public schools.
My public HS system had that for half the county and the smart motivated kids all gravitated to the same schools.
No entry tests, it was self selection .
Jason: first, we're talking about elementary school here. High schools in NYC are "choice" + selective already. Elementary school choice would quickly rid the city of many families who now send their kids to "decent" zoned public schools. NYC is far more transient than many places in the country, it is also ringed by many suburban towns with similar COL and good schools.
>The funy thing is that crime is so low in NYC IN GENERAL that upper Manhattan crime rates are lower than crime rates in MOST large American cities peoe might other wise assume are safe.
a) Not as much meth
b) Stop and frisk
c) Abundant low cost housing and transportation
nyc10023 - i disagree - the schools in our neighbor are terrible because we hire the wrong adults. Period. Blaming the kids or their parents is a joke. Teachers have the kids for over 1,000 hours a year. They are well paid and their job is to teach. If these kids can't read by the time they are in the 6th grade (let alone graduated from high school per the recent report) it is the fault of the adults.
We should fire the bottom 30% of teachers over the next two years. Then revaluate. Assuming that works, then going forward, we should fire the bottom 5% every year.
I can't comment on the public schools, but I want to second what Jazzman says about City College, where I teach. It is improving, and it's increasingly drawing students from outside the city, therefore bringing new renters to the neighborhood. But additionally, the faculty and staff of the college are beginning to look at the neighborhood as their community, and new hires to the college from outside NYC are increasingly likely to consider living close to campus. I think Coccola is across the street from our campus because every university needs at least one nice restaurant nearby, and being empty on Saturday night fits with being a college-oriented spot. The CCNY crowd is likely to be around for dinner M-F, not on the weekends.
Semerun is right, of course, about the past of the neighborhood. When I went to school at Barnard in the late 70s, we would get memos from the college at the end of the school year reminding us to tell our parents to roll up the car windows and lock the doors if we had to drive across 125th St on our way out of the city. And new students were exhaustively counseled about where we could and could not get off the subway--the implication being that we'd be mugged, murdered, or worse if we set foot north or west of the protected enclave of Morningside Heights. I take great pleasure in living and working today in the vibrant, charming, safe community which wasn't always thriving, and which I was warned against even walking through back in the day. That's one of my private yardsticks or maybe I mean milestones of change over time.
This is a digression, but anyone who wants to recall what the city was like in earlier, grittier, more polarized eras should see the recently released bio-pic about former mayor Koch--who, incidentally, is now buried in the lovely cemetery here in Hamilton Heights, overlooking the Hudson. The city has changed so much in the past 40 years, mostly in positive ways. We can argue that negative things have happened, too, of course: the increasingly wide disparities of income, the creeping suburbanization of chain and big-box stores forcing out smaller more neighborhood-y establishments, the diminution of community spirit and interconnectedness of people ... lots of things. But overall, we see once-ravaged neighborhoods rebuilding, the city encouraging sensible renewal projects, and individuals making choices which in aggregate contribute to a sense of a positive future throughout the city.
Uptown2012 - great to see that you're seeing what I'm seeing. It won't be long before the guys "hanging out" on the corner of 139th and Broadway will be a group of classmates discussing homework assignments. (the groups on 139th and Amsterdam are already discussing homework)
Such changes are so healthy and benefit everyone (even the misguided youth who have been hanging out on the corners for years).
Yes indeed, and I like the light-hearted touch in how you put this.
I used to be at 141st and B'way, so I walked up and down that stretch all the time. And my impression of the guys at 139th St was that lots of them were actually proud grandfathers discussing how well their grandkids were doing with their homework up at the college ... though of course there's more than one set of folks hanging out, and who is on what corner does vary according to time of day, etc. And one of the beautiful things about City College is that we're all about second and third chances in life--lots of our students are parent age and even grandparent age, so maybe corner guys of all generations can start worrying about final exams and building a better future through education.
Whenever I see a young man doing pull ups outside the bodega, I am tempted to say "Take a walk up the hill with me and I'll show you where the Admissions Office is at the college--it's there waiting for you." I don't actually do it--people need to make their own choices--but I think it. And to get back to the Columbia expansion, I am hopeful that in addition to bringing new energy and new waves of potential renters to the neighborhood, it is also going to bring new jobs for people who have always lived here.
This thread was originally about whether Hamilton Heights is a good spot for families--and I think the implication was that those families were middle class, professional, and moving in from somewhere else. But we should measure a neighborhood by whether it's a good place for the families who already live there. And this neighborhood is by and large a warm, gentle place, full of successful extended families living in happiness and dignity. It's the only neighborhood in Manhattan I've ever lived in where people routinely smile and greet each other on the streets. I think that says a lot.
This was useful. I think I should now walk around the neighbourhood to get a personal "feel" for it. At the end of the day, it is what feels right.
How is 150th street between Amsterdan and Convent?
1) What does everyone think about 150th Street between Amsterdam and Convent? Is it safe to walk from the 145th street stop , up St. Nicholas, and then left onto 145th Street, if getting work home late at night?
2) Is there not ONE SINGLE GOOD school in the neighborhood?
150th and Amsterdam walk to the subway can be right past the police station. I think it's as safe as any walk in the City.
As for schools - there are good ones but they are all charter schools. Historically, most educated parents get their kids into public schools on the UWS or (because they have a Harlem address) they can get their kids into charter schools on the UWS.
I hope the schools in the immediate area start to improve as well. Kids should be able to walk to a good school in their own neighborhood!
You seem so concerned about safety right here. Have you tried going for a walk around the block to see how it feels? When I walk home to more or less where you are thinking about from either the #1 or the A trains at 145th, people smile and say good evening to me. Which is not what I'd call unsafe. Would you? What is your idea of safe? What are you comparing this neighborhood to? How do you want this neighborhood to be?
How can one possibly feel unsafe in an area that has so many fat old men congregating on every mid-block sidewalk area, lifting their shirts up to air their enormous distended bellies beautifully whenever the temperature exceeds 75 degrees ... and so many nice young men in their teens and twenties, vigilantly guarding every corner until the wee hours of the morning?
"Community" is awesome, isn't it?
I had put the same post in a bunch of these discussion boards....sorry, I should have just put it in 1 board. I appreciate the info on the neighborhood, and am seriously considering it. There are some beautiful apartments and homes for sale there!
Good luck with your search! And if you ever get un-scared and change your name, be sure to post and tell us about it!
That area/block, as described by Uptown2012 is not "unsafe".
Very good neighbors on that street, looking out for others.
Others wearing togs of the other indicative color, or others wearing DEA badges?
^^ More trolling "comments" from trollalanhart, at 1am on 4/2/13, who hasn't been in that area/block recently, if ever.^^