Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is Harlem completely and totally screwed?

The short answer is: Yeah, probably.

For a slightly longer answer, check out my article in today's NY Post.("Condos are in deep doo-doo," broker Willie Suggs told me -- which is probably the most succinct way of putting it.)

As most New Yorkers know, Harlem probably drank the real estate conium more greedily than its neighbors in the boom years. And with good reason. Land was cheap and most developers (and yuppies) saw it as a great opportunity. So new buildings were put in the ground as quickly as possible and old houses were bought -- at much more than they were probably worth.

Ironically, this seems eerily similar to what happened to Harlem roughly 100 years ago (before blacks settled in the neighborhood). When a planned IRT was run through the neighborhood a lot of developers rushed to put up buildings nearby. As it turns out, they wound up putting up too many buildings. There was a housing glut, developers went broke, and land became very cheap again. (Deja vu, anyone?)

I tried to be as fair as possible in this article -- and if deals are being inked than deals are being inked -- but it might have been slightly worse than I reported. Several brokers and developers told me off the record how scared they are, and (without naming names) that a number of developers are seriously reevaluating their plans.

But here's hoping Harlem makes it through in one piece (it's a neighborhood I really do love).