The Playgoer: The New 125th St

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The New 125th St

Interesting report from Kate Taylor in the Sun on the ambitious plans for heavy arts funding and institution building in the gentrification--sorry, "revitalization"--of Harlem, and 125th street in particular. New homes and rehearsal spaces for Bill T. Jones, Classical Theatre of Harlem, and others.

So far so good, I say. When they start building luxury high-rises for 7-figure apartments, watch out.

Oh, wait:

The Classical Theater of Harlem, the Jazz Museum, and the Harlem Arts Alliance will all have homes in the Victoria Theater, which is being redeveloped into a combination cultural destination, hotel, and condominium. And the proposed rezoning of 125th Street to allow greater building heights will likely result in more mixed-used developments like the Victoria.

Uh oh. Well, let's hope those artists make the most of it while Harlem remains Harlem.

1 comment:

Jaime said...

I don't spend a lot of time around 125th St, but I'm often in Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill, where a similar, if smaller-scale, gentrification/revitalization is happening on 145th Street. On one block, all under one luxury building, there's a Starbucks, New York Sports Club, and Bank of America.

One day someone muttered to me, "What're you doing in Harlem?" We were in front of the Vegan Raw Soul Food restaurant, next door to the gourmet tea lounge. It's not all corporations gentrifiying and white folks taking over. Although 125th is a more heavily commercial area (Old Navy, H&M, etc etc etc), I think both spots, as part of one larger neighborhood, can legitimately be said to be revitalizing, not just gentrifying. As much as it's white kids moving in, it's also, from what I've seen, an increasingly affluent black community changing their neighborhood, too.

But maybe that separates gentrification from skin color, making it, perhaps more accurately, about class. But then the culture wash-out issue is, if not gone, different. Culture, race, class - messy, messy, blurry things to talk about.