Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates is planning to establish a think tank in Harlem and has been viewing Harlem townhouses as possible locations for the new intellectual center, The Observer has learned.
According to sources familiar with the proceedings, Mr. Gates, the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, has been receiving updates about new listings of townhouses bigger than 5,000 square feet in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
Mr. Gates said that he is indeed interested in locating a scholarly institute in Harlem, but he maintained no formal plans have been drawn and financing for the think tank has yet to be secured.
“I have a dream of building a think tank in Harlem; it’s something I’ve thought a lot about,” said Mr. Gates. “But right now it’s just in my mind. Other than discussing my ideas for the center with some broke intellectuals who have no money, I haven’t formulated the idea; I haven’t written a formal proposal and I haven’t raised any money.”
Mr. Gates described his think tank as a place for intellectuals studying African-American culture to further their research.
“It would be for artists and scholars interested in African-American studies,” Mr. Gates said.
He said he wants to locate the center in one of Harlem’s stately prewar townhouses.
“My fantasy would be to find two houses and combine them. Scholars could come there and study jazz and dance. It would be a great boon to Harlem’s redevelopment.”
Perhaps signaling just what type of property would house the intellectual center-if the plan unfolds-is a 25-foot-wide townhouse on Convent Avenue between 143rd and 144th streets, currently listed at $2.69 million by Harlem broker Glenn Rice. The five-story townhouse covers 6,500 square feet and was built by renowned Harlem architect William Mowbray. The mansion would likely undergo a dramatic renovation to transform it for academic use, but in its current form the home has seven gas fireplaces, marble vanities, parquet floors, stained-glass windows and copper gutters. According to a source involved in the property search, Mr. Gates has also inquired about a 20-foot-wide townhouse on the corner of Convent and 143rd Street, which has 5,300 square feet with a brick and limestone façade, stained-glass windows and hardwood floors.
Mr. Gates’ W. E. B. Du Bois Institute is one of the country’s eminent centers for African-American studies, with 12 research fellows. With sheepskins from Cambridge and Yale, Mr. Gates joined the Harvard faculty in 1991 after holding teaching positions at Yale, Duke and Cornell University. In 2000, he and Cornel West published The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century. His other published works include several scholarly titles, a Time magazine cover story in 1994 and numerous pieces for The New Yorker.
If the think tank becomes a reality, Mr. Gates said he would remain at Harvard and has no plans to relocate full-time to New York. “I have no plans to leave Harvard,” he said.
The five apartments at the former Christie’s East auction house at 219 East 67th Street have just hit the market, and an unusual thing is happening: The brokers are referring to the apartments in the 36,000-square-foot building, which is being renovated by the developer Shahab Karmely and Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty juggernaut, as “lofts.”
True, the building was once a garage, and the developers are delivering them as “raw” space apartments. But can it be a “loft” if it’s above 59th Street?
“This is for the person who wants the space of Tribeca but doesn’t want to have to go downtown to find it,” said exclusive listing broker Carrie Chiang. (She’s co-brokering the apartments with her partner Ralph Krueger.)
This isn’t the first time up has been down in the neighborhood. In 2000, 515 Park Avenue was marketed as “loft-style” residences with “open floor plans,” and more recently, the Liberty Warehouse at 43 West 64th Street was developed by the Athena Group into 32 raw-space lofts ranging in price from $1.275 million to $10.2 million.
Ms. Chiang and Mr. Krueger are listing 4,665-square-foot full-floor apartments on floors two through five at $5.4 million, $5.85 million, $6.3 million and $6.75 million, respectively. The 5,886-square-foot penthouse duplex carries a $10.4 million asking price. Maintenance on the apartments range from $4,802 to $6,983 for the penthouse.
Ms. Chiang says she has received approval by the attorney general for the offering plan, and can now accept contracts on the listings. The apartments will be delivered in January.
Staying true to Christie’s pedigree, the development will offer a bevy of luxurious details. The building, on the north side of 67th Street between Second and Third avenues, sits across from the Solow townhouses and includes a private underground car park accessed by a remote-controlled elevator, with spots reserved for each resident. Inside the apartments, which are being built with 10-foot ceilings but without the intrusive structural columns typical in many lofts, the finishings include high-tech security systems with close-circuit television monitoring, key-card entry and an intercom system connected to the buildings 24-hour concierge. Other advanced details include remote-control panels that control the lighting, heat and curtains, and can even activate a bath or shower at a desired temperature. The apartments all include private balconies, and the top-floor duplex has its own 3,650-square-foot roof-top terrace.
The ground floor is equally opulent. The glass-walled lobby has a 19-foot ceiling and an imported English slate floor. The ground floor also includes 3,500 square feet of retail space that Ms. Chiang said developers hope to fill with a spa tenant.
Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market
116 Pinehurst Avenue
One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $369,000. Selling: $355,000.
Maintenance: $846; 24 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN Forget the Hudson Valley. More and more home buyers are seeking refuge in the far northern reaches of Manhattan, attracted by the convenient subway commute and country-like quiet with expansive Hudson River views. The thirtysomething publicist and her bartender husband who bought this one-bedroom in the prewar Hudson View Gardens co-op had been living on the Upper East Side before deciding to trek north. They settled in this one-bedroom that had been home to a retired woman for the past 35 years. “They wanted the small-town feel in the middle of a big city,” said exclusive broker Caroline Brown of Century 21 William B. May. The apartment has high ceilings and river views. The Hudson View Gardens co-op was built in 1924 and is one of the city’s oldest co-op developments. True to its name, the multi-building development has a private rose garden, as well as a children’s playground and on-site parking.
Upper East Side
222 East 80th Street
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $799,000. Selling: $700,000.
Maintenance: $1,523; 41 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two weeks.
PERFORMANCE ANXIETY Despite the headlines trumpeting Manhattan’s rising real-estate values, brokers are often finding discounted apartments below the double-digit growth splashed across the headlines, even in tony neighborhoods like the Upper East Side. “There are some good values out there,” said Douglas Elliman broker Leonard Steinberg, who along with Elliman broker Herve Senequier, brought the buyers to this 1,200-square-foot apartment on 80th Street between Second and Third avenues. “You can’t beat the amount of space and the quality for the price,” Mr. Steinberg said. “At the end of the day, they found an apartment they really love, and they’re now building up a lot of equity instead of renting.” The twentysomething couple (he’s in finance; she works for a pharmaceutical company) had been renting in the neighborhood before buying the spread from the retired owners. The fifth-floor apartment has two bedrooms, a 22-foot living room and a balcony overlooking tree-lined 80th Street. The Kimberly building was built in 1962 and has a 24-hour doorman and an in-house garage. Marilyn Miller and Karen Connolly, also of Douglas Elliman, represented the sellers.
270 Fifth Street
Three-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $575,000. Selling: $585,000.
Maintenance: $811; 40 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
MORE LOFTY AMBITION The outer-borough trickle of Manhattan’s status seekers to Park Slope’s leafy blocks continues. This Condé Nast executive and his wife who had until recently been a staffer at Dennis Publishing left behind the Upper East Side and paid $10,000 over asking for this 1,100-square-foot loft on Fifth Street between Fourth Avenue and the newly hip Fifth Avenue, home to outposts including the trattoria Al di La and the nightclub Southpaw. “The sellers were moving upstate, and this couple wanted a Manhattan loft at half the price,” said broker Shannon Reese of the Corcoran Group, who partnered on the deal with fellow Corcoran broker Tracey McLean. The sellers, a software entrepreneur and his stay-at-home wife, migrated upstate with their two children. The loft is in the early-20th-century Milk Factory building and has 13-foot beamed ceilings, hardwood floors, two marble baths and a private balcony.