Plants and animals aren’t the only things that are endangered—buildings are, too! Or so says the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
And although the number of endangered historic buildings is nowhere close to the whopping 2,000 endangered plant and animal species, endangered anything is never a good thing, which is why the Trust releases a list of the top 11 endangered historic buildings each year.
Since the annual list was started 25 years ago, only seven New York sites and buildings have been classified as endangered—thanks to the city’s Landmarks Law, in part—though that seventh was just added this year.
With the exception of a deadly construction accident in March, things have been fairly quiet on the western front of Harlem. Starting nearly a decade ago, Manhattanville became one of the most hotly contested corners of the city, as Columbia University first worked to have the neighborhood rezoned for a new 17-acre campus, approved in 2007, followed by the state leading an eminent domain case on the school’s behalf to repossess the land of two local business owners, which culminated in 2010. (Since then, the city’s focus has shifted south, to another university-led redevelopment.)
All the while, Columbia has gone about the work of creating the most environmentally progressive neighborhood in the entire five boroughs, all from whole cloth.
Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Columbia’s new campus with LEED ND Platinum, the highest rating in the council’s new-ish neighborhood development program. It is only the fifth project in the state to earn such recognition, and the first to achieve LEED ND Platinum. The designation means that the project has embraced the goals of accessibility, density, design and environmental efficiency, creating a model for future development.
“We like to think of it as a three-legged stool: environment, economy, equity,” Jason Hercules, director of the LEED ND program, told The Observer. “Manhattanville excelled in all three.”
Promises: they’re easy to make, but hard to keep. Just ask the residents and landowners of West Harlem.
For the last five years, a number of developments have been proposed along 125th Street, but most have fallen through. Take, for instance, Vornado Realty Trust’s ambitious plans for a 600,000-square-foot office building on the corner of Park Avenue that would have housed Major League Baseball’s new television network. That building never materialized, nor did a later development, planned on the same site, for a high-rise that included a Marriott hotel.
So what’s the beef? Why are so many projects along 125th Street (as well as nearby Lexington and Morningside avenues) habitually planned and then abandoned?
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Over the course of the next few years, Harlem will undergo some major plastic surgery.
First up: a facelift.
Earlier this year, Columbia University began construction of their latest Manhattanville campus expansion, a 17-acre, $6.4 billion site in West Harlem which will serve as the future location of the Jerome L. Green Science Center.
“Five years ago we got some peculiar looks before bidding this project out,” executive director of environmental field compliance for Manhattanville development, Ramesh Raman, told DNAinfo. “Now, good contractors realize this is the wave of the future.”
Second in line: buttock implants.
Novelist Min Jin Lee, the author of the oft-best-book-listed Free Food for Millionaires is embracing a change of scenery—moving from the ultra-modern Midtown MiMA tower to a Queen Anne style townhouse in Harlem.
Ms. Lee and her husband Christopher Duffy bought the 19th century townhouse at 133 West 122nd Street for $2.2 million from heiress and up-and-coming record exec Jaylaan Ahmad-Llewellyn, according to city records.
Crimes and Misdemeanors
It was a classic set-up: a trusting, elderly woman with a valuable property and a clever con to separate one from the other.
Brooklyn lawyer Ifeanyichukwu Eric Abakporo and Latanya Pierce have been arrested for allegedly scamming an elderly woman out of her multi-million-dollar property in Harlem, then convincing the bank to give them a $1.8 million mortgage loan on the home, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Mr. Abakporo, 52, a Nigerian citizen and resident of Queens and Ms. Pierce, 43, of Brooklyn have been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and bank fraud conspiracy.
Martha Brown has worked in Harlem for more than three decades and has lived in the neighborhood for even longer. Over the last 15 years, she said she has seen a tremendous amount of change come to the area, some of which she characterized using that word that catches in the throats of so many New Yorkers: gentrification.
“People that were here, they’re not going to be able to stay,” she said. “They’re not going to be able to afford it.”
While developers of all stripes, from the institutional to the entrepreneurial, continue to beset Harlem with their developments, on Tuesday night, a group of them attempted to assuage the community’s concerns at a townhall meeting hosted by the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. Change will not stop coming to the alternately famous and infamous New York neighborhood anytime soon.
But the presenters from five separate projects tried to convince the crowd of one things: these changes were going to include them. Even if those in attendance might never occupy one of these projects, they might at least hope to work at or otherwise benefit from one of them.
Blame it on the builders.
Breeze International, the firm demolishing a Manhattanville building for Columbia that collapsed yesterday and claimed one life, just released a statement addressing the cause of the accident. The firm’s investigation found that an unusual construction configuration appears to be the reason the building was destabilized and collapsed.
Because the structural beam the demo crew severed was not properly connected to the rest of the structure, when it was cut, everything else came down around it. Breeze points to a lack of construction drawings from when the building was built between eight and 10 decades ago as to why the unusual connection was not initially recognized.
Of course, the view of Central Park from the southern ends are mind-blowing and dream-esque, but have you ever considered the views from the north side of the park?
Apartments with views overlooking the park sell for as much as $88 million and the penthouse at One57 is projected (read: hoping) to be sell for $115 million. But The Times raised an interesting question: What about the residence at the north end?
Following today’s warehouse collapse in Manhattanville that killed a construction worker, Columbia University released a statement expressing its sympathies for the family.
“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the family, friends and co-workers of the construction worker who was killed in this tragic incident, and our thoughts remain with the two other workers who were injured this morning and their loved ones,” the university said in a brief statement.
The building was being taken down to make way for a public plaza that is part of the university’s second phase, which remains years away. The scheduling of the construction work was not immediately clear—why demolish now to leave vacant for later.