Wednesday, May 27, 2009

East River Plaza UPDATE

According to The New York Times Costco announced today that it will be accepting food stamps on trial bases at their new East River Plaza location.

Monday, May 25, 2009

East River Plaza

If you live in East Harlem you've probably seen the construction of the East River Plaza, you really can't miss it. If you don't live in the area you've probably heard rumors of a Costco and Target being built uptown. Lately there has been a great deal of chatter going on about the project. I'd like to try to consolidate some of the recent information and start a conversation about the project in general, and see what residents and even non-residents think of the plaza.

The Basics: The East River Plaza is being developed in East Harlem along the FDR Drive between 116th and 119th St. It will be a large big-box mall, 485,000 square feet, of the style more often seen in suburbs. According to PlaNYC's website, "In 1996 Blumenfeld Development Group, Ltd. (BDG) purchased the site. The site was rezoned in 1999, changing the zoning from an M2-2 to a C4-4 to allow for the commercial growth. From the time of the rezoning till 2004 when Forest City Ratner Company (FCRC) bought a stake in the development, the project was stalled. Both FCRC and BDG will develop the site."

The plaza could bring 1200-2000 jobs into the community, and the developers have pledged to hire within the community.

Originally Home Depot was one of the tenants of the plaza, but they have subleased their space to Costco. In addition to Costco, Target, Best Buy and Marshalls have also agreed to be tenants.

The East River Plaza is scheduled to open in October 2009.

Lately there has been concerns about Costco not accepting food stamps. According to the New York Times more then 30,000 residents in East Harlem receive food stamps. Costco has stated they do not have the technology to accept food stamps. The times quotes an East Harlem resident, Viveca Diaz, aptly stating, "Very interesting. The corner bodega takes food stamps, and Costco doesn't."

Costco has also been in the news for their proposed delivery schedule. According to the New York Times, "Costco just won special permission for its tractor-trailers to drive on residential streets in East Harlem between midnight and 5 a.m. to make deliveries." The Daily News has an opinion piece from East Harlem resident Dolores Prida, entitled "Sleepless in East Harlem" on the topic.

What are your thoughts on the East River Plaza? Do you think it will bring traffic congestion and late-night noise, or jobs and great shopping experiences?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Patsy's Pizzeria

Italian Harlem Alive and Well

Before it was El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, this area was Italian Harlem. One of the hold outs from the old Italian Harlem days is Patsy's Pizzeria, established in 1933. Having a late lunch last weekend the restaurant was filled with all sorts of patrons. A mother reminisced to her children about the old neighborhood at the table next to ours. A couple was speaking Italian at another. As we were sitting a group of tourists walked in, followed by another family that is greeted as regulars. The guests sat among framed photos of famous dinner guests from actors to politicians throughout the years.

The meal started with chilled Peroni beers. Next, mozzarella breaded and fried to perfection, the outside reminded me of the crust of a grilled cheese. These are not the corner diner's mozzarella sticks, these were elevated to an art form. I chose the fillet of sole with hot peppers over grilled asparagus, a dish from the spring menu which incorporated spring veggies into delicious lighter dishes. We also ordered one of their classic pizzas topped with sausage. These did not disappoint. The fillet was perfectly spicy and the pizza was indeed a classic.
There are a few Patsy's restaurants throughout the city, but I definitely recommend coming up to Italian Harlem for the whole experience.

Patsy's Pizzeria
Patsy's Pizzeria
2287 1st Ave, near 118th St.

Phone: (212) 534-9783


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spring Saturday, East Harlem

Last Saturday Sam and I took advantage of the perfect weather and spent time outside having a fun-filled East Harlem day. We started the day with the One Harlem Community Service Day volunteer program I wrote about earlier on the blog. We were assigned work at the Modesto "Tin" Flores Garden on Lexington between 104th and 105th St. We planted flowers and did general clean up in the garden. I'm definitely going to go back and see how our flowers are doing in the next few weeks.
Afterwards we had brunch at Orbit and walked around the neighborhood listening to the ice cream truck music and watching spontaneous sidewalk parties erupt.

Hard at work in the garden

Sam and I celebrated a morning of hard work over Blue Moons at Orbit

NYC Green Cart on 110th and 3rd Ave.

Dusk in East Harlem