Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing
By BRITTANY HUTSON
As Harlem's revitalization continues, Frederick Douglass Boulevard is emerging as one of the area's most attractive corridors.
While its location north of Central Park and close to several transit lines makes it appealing to all types of middle-class New Yorkers, it is especially popular with black professionals and foreigners who savor the area's artistic institutions and Harlem's image as the cultural capital of black America.
The revival of Frederick Douglass Boulevard has been imminent since 2003, when a rezoning allowed an increase in high-rise residential development along the boulevard, as well as expanded ground-floor retail development. Now, the neighborhood is steadily blossoming. What were vacant lots and boarded-up or burned-out buildings are being transformed into new condominiums and retail space.
Between 113th and 124th streets, half a dozen buildings are under construction or recently have been completed that will supply the area with about 250 new condominium units, estimates Hans Futterman, founder of RGS Holdings LLC, a real-estate development firm. That's in addition to a couple of buildings that opened and have sold out in the past few years.
Two of the larger buildings currently under construction on the boulevard include 2280 FDB, near West 123rd Street, with 80 units consisting of one- to four-bedroom and penthouse units priced between $329,000 and $1.8 million.
There's also SOHA 118, located near West 118th with 91 units, which include one- to three-bedroom and penthouse units, priced between $740,000 and $3.2 million
Other new buildings include the Douglass at 114th, the Livmor at 115th and the Parc Standard at 113th. There's also the Gateway, across the street from the Parc Standard, which is undergoing its second phase of construction that is scheduled for completion this fall.
The high level of development partly reflects lower development costs. Stephen G. Kliegerman of Halstead Property said that developers were able to acquire land more cheaply and keep their total costs below those in other parts of Manhattan.
And the prices are low enough to attract buyers priced out of the Upper West Side and other parts of the city. As the real-estate market weakened, asking prices were cut further, with those on some units falling to $600 to $750 per square foot for a typical one bedroom.
"No where in the city could you acquire land and build for those numbers," Mr. Kliegerman said, estimating that total development prices are well above $800 a square foot in most other parts of Manhattan.
But is there enough demand for all the new condos springing up?
Mr. Futterman, whose firm is development manager of 2280 FDB, said he isn't worried about the possibility of oversupply.
"As long as developers are building high-quality developments, things will sell," he said.
The prospect of new tenants in the condos is drawing new retail establishments, which historically have been in short supply in Harlem. New arrivals include not only new supermarkets and banks, but trendy eateries.
"Frederick Douglass Boulevard is getting a lot of play. There are a lot of new things in the neighborhood, not just the developments but retail," said Vie Wilson, an associate broker at Corcoran.
"When you walk through the neighborhood, you can find different things that you wouldn't have ordinarily found before."
A hotel is also coming: Aloft, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., is scheduled to open near West 124th Street in August.
Jai Jai Greenfield, co-owner of Harlem Vintage, a specialty wine boutique, located between West 120th and West 121st streets, is excited about the new developments and eager to attract new patrons.
Ms. Greenfield says sales are "getting better" thanks to collaborations with area condos, such as when her boutique was asked to host a wine-tasting party.
"You want people who really appreciate Harlem for what it is and want to learn and support it," she said. "Buildings like the SOHA 118, the Douglass and the Livmor are being really supportive of the neighborhood."
Friday, June 18, 2010