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I'm considering the purchase of a one-bedroom condo in Hamilton Heights, on Riverside Drive. Can I get some opinions about the neighborhood from people who live in the area? I've been around the area many times and find it appealing (in general), but I would like to hear some pros and cons from people who live around there. Is it safe to walk home from the subway late at night? Is it generally quiet along Riverside Drive? Is the commute to Midtown and Downtown generally easy?
i've been in the area for 2.5 years and love it! riverside is great, always quiet, gorgeous sunsets, easy park access. the walk home from the subway is fine at all hours, although i feel safer taking the 1 later at night than the D. i take which ever is faster though, which invariably will be the D. commuting to midtown couldn't be easier with the A/D and same for downtown. about 15-20 minutes to times sq., 20-25 for 14th street/8 av, 25-30 for west 4th. i just bought a vespa, however, which makes commuting home at night even nicer--only about 30 minutes from anywhere.
not a safe area. the price is rising due to qe3, and foreign $ laundry
I also bought a condo in the area 2.5 years ago. I feel the area is plenty safe and regularly am out and about late at night. It's generally pretty quiet. Here are my complaints:
- The area is very close to the 1 line, which is a very slow line. However, it's not bad if you catch a transfer to the 2 or 3 trains at 96th street.
- The A and D lines are good but a bit of a hike.
- Riverside Drive/Riverside Park is nice to walk along, but it gets very crowded with too many kids and dogs, especially in the summer.
we have a friend on st nick and 145th, just off the xpress subway on top of the 'nabe's bank (capital one i believe?)
we always crack jokes about heading up there to bring our bodybags for proper disposal should anything happen..
all tongue in cheek tho, as i find it "up and coming" and i loathe that term as every broker uses it whether it be prime soho or wayne, nj pre dina manzo...to the north you have wash-heights/fort washington which is already arguably past the up-coming stage and is more established..
ham heights is still comparatively rough, and even if the planned expansion of CU in the area goes bust, HH will always be a draw to those who want a manhattan address as opposed to qns/bk/nj, college kids to scared off by SpaHa on the east side, and homos who continually clean up dirty nabes getting priced out of hells kitchen/uws/morniheights prefer to stick to the westside for easy access into hk..
lot of hdfc, but many LL's including bloomy (read this, not sure how practical/legal yet?) are trying to price them out to north pelhand (story of manhatta), so expect more whole foods.
HH is one of the most beautiful in all New York City. It lacks services (restaurants, coffee, etc.) that you would fine on Upper West Side, but you are also paying a LOT less rent. Its convenience is second to none. Express trains on 145th Street give you a choice of A or D lines. literally 12 minutes to 59th Street.
Parks abound, St. Nicholas Park, Riverside Park and Jackie Robinson park are all nice.
Yes - just like the Lower East Side, there are projects and projects breed more that usual danger. Soo, just be alert, and take a cab late at night (all NYers should do this). I've lived here 6 years and never have had a problem.
I have been an condo owner in Hamilton Heights for nearly 7 years now. The first couple of years was rough, but things have improved considerably since. My parents thought I had lost my mind when I told them where I wanted to buy- but they have since reversed their stance. There has been considerable investments in the neighborhood- mostly on the residential end, and only recently have we seen some progress on the retail scene. Early attempts at nicer retail establishments failed, as is often the case when a neighborhood has not yet gentrified. I do believe that this summer the demographics of the neighborhood underwent a major shift- and is unlikely to go back to the rough neighborhood it was for so long. Billionaire real estate investors as well as well known economists have a vested interest in the neighborhood. As to crime, it's down 1% for the year with 0 murders for the year to date. I do agree with Avaris about taking the 1 over the D train late at night- however the A does feel safer than the D. Commuting downtown/midtown is easy with the 1/A/C/B/D trains in the neighborhood. As for Hol4's comments- 145th and St. Nicholas is a known hangout for criminals, particularly when it comes to snatch and grab of smart phones, etc. so that corner can have an uneasy feel. New businesses such as The Chipped Cup (coffee house) and Harlem Public (gastropub) have just opened on Broadway @148th-149th st and are always packed and are welcoming to everyone in the neighborhood- but I think they hit a sweet spot of what was missing in the neighborhood and I wouldn't be surprised to see more businesses like them come to the neighborhood in the next couple of years. Hol4 is correct about lots of HDFC's in the neighborhood. I can tell you that many of the people looking at HDFC's are young looking for a better option than renting. HH's has long been one of the poorest neighborhoods of Manhattan and I can easily see it becoming more of a home to Manhattan's middle class (which is obviously different than the middle class of the rest of the country).
Just to clarify- Hamilton Heights has only a couple of small projects- nothing like the large projects in other parts of Harlem or other gentrified neighborhoods throughout Manhattan. We do have a disproportionate number of rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments along with many HDFC income restricted co-ops.
> I can tell you that many of the people looking at HDFC's are young looking for a better option than renting. HH's has long been one of the poorest neighborhoods of Manhattan and I can easily see it becoming more of a home to Manhattan's middle class (which is obviously different than the middle class of the rest of the country).
what about the schools? are they improving?
> We do have a disproportionate number of rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments along with many HDFC income restricted co-ops.
we looked there long time ago, and passed cause of the huge amount of Section 8. i have no problem with HDFCs at all, but to buy or rent on an area with so many Section 8 (like in South Bronx) when the program is not stable (unfunded, running out of $ all the time) didn't strike me as a good idea.
> what about the schools? are they improving?
no, these youngsters will be forced to move out of NYC in couple years for better skools
> we looked there long time ago, and passed cause of the huge amount of Section 8
the section 8 info is not public, i don't think you really obtained the figures
caonima, your English has improved significantly.
Thanks everyone. Your advice has really been helpful.
I've owned rental properties in the neighborhood for a number of years.
I think semerun's comments are the most accurate above and agree with caonima regarding schools and section 8.
If you want a good school you'll have to travel to the upper west side (which many of my tenants do without any problem).
This summer's rental season was very different from the last two. Once again the people applying for my vacant apartments were college educated with salaried jobs from established/well known companies. We also get a fair share of students. Two years ago we were only getting applicants who got paid their wages in cash (dishwashers/constructions workers etc). Watching the group of new applicants is the best way to see the direction of the neighborhood. 3 years ago I would take renters on government programs. Now I wouldn't consider it and doubt I'll ever have to again.
Of note too is that this is the first year I've gotten great tenants who told me they moved here because they were "priced out of Brooklyn."
I've been hesitant to raise my rents much because I didn't want to lose good tenants but that changed this year. I'm now confident that I can quickly fill any vacancy with the type of person I would want as a neighbor. Accordingly (if the economy stays the same or get's better) the neighborhood is going to change faster over the next 3 years than it did over the last 10 years.
Then, if we could ever get a good school prices would skyrocket. The architecture is amazing, the access is great and with the addition of new crop of renters after new crop of renters the retail will improve at a faster rate.
Long term the neighborhood has everything going for it, but it will take some time before it starts to resembles the Upper West.
Do not buy a one-bedroom apartment unless you're not financing. If the worst happens and you lose your income for any length of time, you'll need the flexibility of being able to take on a roommate whose rent can make a significant contribution to your monthlies (in other words, not just $500/month for sleeping on your couch in the living room.
Good rule of thumb: Studios and one-bedrooms are good for RENTING, not buying. 2-bedrooms and larger are good for BUYING (and depending on the neighborhood, unless you're getting a cut-rate deal), not renting.