Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing
Vibrant black middle class survives gentrification
By Lana Bortolot
New Yorkers have taken note of Harlem’s rebirth, and its newfound allure has given long-time, returning and new residents a whole new pride of place — but not necessarily a whole new feel. As gentrification threatens to sweep aside Harlem’s traditional culture, a resilient black middle class is proving that rising rents don’t necessarily spell the end of old Harlem’s tradition.
“Even when middle-income blacks moved to the suburbs, a significant middle class remained in Harlem. A lot of people coming back are one generation removed,” says Mark A. Willis, executive vice president and head of the Community Development Group at JPMorgan Chase.
“It’s a coming back of the African-American community.” Willis, the former deputy commissioner for development for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, added “I don’t know a community that doesn’t understand the benefits of having a thriving middle class.”
Andy Gerringer, managing director in the development marketing group at Douglas Elliman, which has several projects in Harlem, agrees. “It’s a market that draws a lot of people — from single women to families to people who have lived in the area for years waiting for something nice to happen.”
While many people are watching Harlem closely for telltale signs of over-gentrification, a number of developers are mindful of the scale of the neighborhood and the need of its residents.
One reason buyers come to Harlem, says Stephen G. Kliegerman, executive director of Development Marketing at Halstead, is to get luxury at good value. Kleigerman said 90 percent of the 24 units at 50 W. 127th St. sold within six months. At SoHo North, an 11-unit boutique loft building at 267 W. 124 St., only the penthouse remains. They flew off the market six months at prices ranging from $1.15 million to $2.3 million.
At The Langston, Halstead’s mammoth signature Harlem project, on Broadhurst Avenue, 85 percent of the units sold though in a year. Though it’s the most upscale project of its kind, Kliegerman said it speaks to the needs of the neighborhood: 70 percent of its 180 units are designated for affordable housing, proving that large-scale or innovative projects don’t always mean the little guy is squeezed out.
“I think the future of Harlem is very bright for people who live there now and the community,” says JPMorgan Chases’ Willis.
Thursday, September 06, 2007