LAST CHANCE! To Catch the Holiday Market at Urban Garden Center

Dear neighbors:

It’s pretty much too late to buy anything online and have it get here on time. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: Join us for some local gift-shopping today, Saturday, December 19, from 3-6 p.m. under the tracks at Urban Garden Center.

We’ll have a curated selection of arts, crafts and treats, all made by local business owners.

Today’s line-up:


Frenchy Coffee — s’mores hot chocolate, coffee, chocolate twists, madeleines, gluten-free and vegan muffins

Cafe Ollin — tamales, churros, salted chocolate chip cookies, Mexican hot chocolate

Mountain Bird — soup, sticky toffee fig cake, hot sake lemonade, peppermint hot chocolate

GAUDIr — mulled cider, champagne, cheesecake

Maryam’s Yum Yum — waffles, chicken & waffles 

Sprinkle Splash Sweet Shoppe — pasteles, doughnuts, regular coquito

Flaco Coquito — non-dairy coquito

Pop Pins NYC — fashion pins

Jam + Rico — handmade Caribbean-inspired jewelry

Elo Burnz & Jorge Matarrita — art prints

Slone — graffiti canvas

Harlem Hoopz — bangles & hoops

Frida Spirit — painted gardenware

DiLena’s Dolicini & La Befana and Friends — Italian cookies and storybooks

The details:
DRIVE-BY (116TH STREET): Pull up by bike or by car at the 116th Street entrance to Urban Garden Center, and we’ll serve sweets and treats directly to your vehicle. Cash and credit accepted.

WALK-UP (117TH STREET): Urban Garden Center will be selling trees and wreaths at their 117th Street entrance. Enter there, smell that evergreen air, then exit toward 116th Street into the vendor area. Lines will be marked off at 6-foot intervals. Cash and credit accepted.

Of course: No mask, no entry. More info here:  

COME HUNGRY! Today’s Line-Up for Holidays To Go 🎁


We’ve got your tree, treats and more today, Saturday, December 12, from 3-6 p.m. under the tracks at Urban Garden Center. There’ll be flautas and flan, cake and coquito, plus great gifts for friends — with vendors to get us in the holiday spirit, while keeping us safe and socially distanced in the open air.


Mountain Bird — hot chocolate, hot sake lemonade, sticky toffee fig cake, Bird and vege soup

Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods — pie crust cookies, chocolate chip cookies, toffee

Harlem Baking Co. — Mason jar desserts, mulled wine, hot cider

Sprinkle Splash Sweet Shoppe — coquito, doughnuts, churros, vegan chocolate mousse

Bistro Casa Azul  — flautas & flan

Maryam’s Yum Yum — waffles 

Slone — graffiti art prints

Harlem Hoopz — bangles & hoops

Frida Spirit — painted gardenware

The details:
DRIVE-BY (116TH STREET): Pull up by bike or by car at the 116th Street entrance to Urban Garden Center, and we’ll serve sweets and treats directly to your vehicle. Cash and credit accepted.

WALK-UP (117TH STREET): Urban Garden Center will be selling trees and wreaths at their 117th Street entrance. Enter there, smell that evergreen air, then exit toward 116th Street into the vendor area. Lines will be marked off at 6-foot intervals. Cash and credit accepted.

Of course: No mask, no entry. More info here:

NO LINES! Flu Shots & COVID Testing on Wednesday 12-4 p.m.

Hi neighbors,

Friendly heads-up that we will have the COVID testing van and flu shots back this Wednesday, December 9, from 12-4 p.m., during Fresh Food Box:

So you can get your veggies and health check, too! (And/or just the health check! The lines are separate, and short for both.)

COVID swab tests are FREE and have a three-day return. The flu shots are $20 or billed to your insurance.

Holler at me with any questions! 

Take care,

HNBA (Zoom) Holiday Party – Tuesday, December 8th!

We’ll all readily admit that it won’t be the same, but we’re going to try anyway. Now that Thanksgiving’s over, let’s usher in the holiday season with a Zoom HNBA Party on Tuesday, December 8th at 7:00 PM.

Subscribe to this blog: to get the Zoom link (we’ll have it for you in the next week or so), and we’ll toast to the end of 2020 and (hopefully) light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.

HNBA Meeting Tonight!

Our November HNBA meeting will be tonight at 7pm. If you want to join, fill this out to get the Zoom link:

We’ll learn more about strategies for buying a home, refinancing, and more ways to build generational wealth in these complex times. We will also have a candidate for Manhattan DA – Tali Farhadian Weinstein – join us to talk about how she wants to reform the DA’s office.

Lastly, we’ll have the new Parks Department administrator for Marcus Garvey Park stop by to introduce herself and her plans for MGP.


Chaiwali, a local dining gem, was mentioned at the top of a list of Eater’s choices for the best heated outdoor dining:

How Extell Plans to Fill a New East Harlem Office Complex Amid COVID

Harlem Headquarters includes more than 440,000 square feet of Class A space

This is from the Commercial Observer on the Pathmark site:

Rendering of a woman at a desk in an office with large windows.


One of New York’s most prolific developers over the past 20 years is looking to make East Harlem the city’s next hot office market. It’s picking one of the most historic downturns in commercial real estate to do so.

Extell Development Company’s Harlem Headquarters, or HHQ, at 180 East 125th Street in East Harlem includes some 441,600 square feet of Class A office space. The developer launched its leasing effort for the project in mid-October. No office or retail space at HHQ had been taken as of the end of the month.

Still, Extell executives and the Cushman & Wakefield team that the company hired to market the office portion said they are confident that there is demand for such a modern addition to the office market beyond more conventional hubs, such as Midtown, Midtown South and Lower Manhattan, never mind Downtown Brooklyn or Long Island City.

They said the office space would be ideal for a wide variety of tenants, including government and public sector entities, nonprofits, and private companies from the almighty technology sector animating so much of the Manhattan office market these days. (Behold Facebook’s lease of 730,000 square feet at the Farley Post Office site in Midtown South, the largest New York City office deal of the pandemic so far.)

“Basically, the whole model for us and why we think the building will be a success is that it’s Class A office in a great location; great, large, efficient floor plates that tenants really want; and a number of valuable incentives,” Ari Goldstein, Extell’s senior vice president for development, said.

The incentives include the availability of business income tax credits from the city’s Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, which incentivizes companies to relocate jobs to New York or from below 96th Street northward. Such sweeteners bring down HHQ’s asking rents by about $25 a square foot, Goldstein said. He declined to elaborate on what the asking rents are.

Extell’s journey to the October leasing milestone began in April 2014. It was then that the company that Chairman Gary Barnett founded began closing on parcels along East 125th Street with only general plans to develop and redevelop sites that included empty lots, a former post office and a Pathmark supermarket. The company spent about $70 million assembling the eventual site.

Meanwhile, Extell made its biggest splash of the decade several dozen blocks south. There, along a stretch of street just below Central Park, the developer spearheaded the forest of super-tall towers that became known as Billionaires’ Row with such projects as the Central Park Tower and One57.

That move, though, teased Barnett and company’s willingness to take the sort of risks that would come to include a major, new office property in the middle of a steep downturn in the office market. One57, in particular, started construction at the tail end of the last financial crisis and in the years after asked unheard-of sums for its units — and, by and large, got them.

In the meantime, once acquired, Extell’s East 125th Street site would flit in and out of the news. At one point, it looked like the new developer might develop hundreds of apartments, including ones designated as affordable. Through it all, the shuttered Pathmark loomed empty. Then, in early summer, Extell unveiled the plans for the office project, which will also include around 50,000 square feet of retail, with more than 300 feet of frontage along East 125th Street and Third Avenue.

It was an audacious move. The advent of the pandemic earlier in the year had sent hundreds of thousands of city workers home from their offices for what has turned out to be several consecutive months of remote work.

The trend is likely to continue for most Manhattan firms well into 2021. Some analyses from the fall estimate that only about 12 to 15 percent of office workers in the borough have returned to their workplaces. Plus, more than 26 percent of Manhattan’s available office space by October was sublease space, a near-record share, according to brokerage Savills — and one that is putting downward pressure on rents.

Then, there’s brick-and-mortar retail. It was struggling pre-pandemic. A 2019 report from the city comptroller showed a sharp rise in the number of vacant city storefronts in the past several years. The pandemic has led to spikes in retail bankruptcies, delinquencies on financing, and even more empty storefronts unlikely to be majority-filled until the pandemic passes. An August count from the Manhattan borough president found 335 street-level vacancies along Broadway alone.

Extell is handling the marketing of HHQ’s retail in-house. Goldstein said potential tenants include drug stores, pharmacies, restaurants and grocers. And he said the development would benefit from other recent projects in the vicinity, as far as foot traffic, including the 163-unit Smile apartment building at 158 East 126th Street and the state’s first proton therapy center, which opened in 2019 at 225 East 126th Street.

As for the much larger office portion, HHQ does have features that increasingly appeal to tenants in a COVID-19 world. The complex will have two private lobby entrances to reduce the potential for crowding. It’s also relatively low-rise at 120 feet and nine stories. Low-rise buildings, with their potentially walkable ascents and much shorter elevator rides, appeal to tenants more now than skyscrapers, analysts say.

Extell also plans to have top-shelf air filtration in HHQ, including filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of 14 (MERV 14), and a 7,500-square-foot rooftop terrace for tenants. Access to fresh air — and to better-filtered air in general — has become a premium amid the airborne respiratory virus pandemic.

The typical floor plate in the building — which architecture firm Gensler is designing — is due to be 56,000 square feet, with 12-foot ceilings and wide column spacings. This is the sort of layout that would allow for companies to better space
employees and ebb the flow of possible pathogens.

Still, perhaps the biggest thing Extell’s HHQ has going for it is time. The developer said it expects to wrap construction on the building by late 2022. By that point, the pandemic will likely be in the city’s rearview and companies will be much better able to assess their need for office space. 

“This is a building that’s not going to be ready for 24 to 30 months, so we don’t see the pandemic as being a challenge,” Myles Fennon, a managing director with Cushman & Wakefield’s agency consulting group, said. He’s leading the team behind the leasing for HHQ’s office space. “If anything, it provides some additional runway.”

Fennon said that interest is already percolating, in no small part, due to the novelty of it all: fresh, Class A office space in an East Harlem not used to such new development. He compared the neighborhood’s potential as a major office-user draw to what happened with parts of the Brooklyn waterfront and Queens’ Long Island City. Those areas were once passed-over afterthoughts, and now host clusters of office buildings and mixed-use projects. Plus, Cushman & Wakefield and Extell are also touting HHQ’s proximity to major Metro-North and subway arteries.

“We have had a wider variety of tenants reach out than we would otherwise have expected, given the time that we’re in,” Fennon said.

Extell said it is counting on that post-COVID-19 demand. So, it has no plans to repurpose the building’s parts as so many other owners and developers are doing, including conversions into distribution hubs for e-commerce companies, which are doing so well during the pandemic.

“It’s not really what we have in mind for this site,” Goldstein said. “I think those distribution facilities tend to go into more industrial locations. We think we’ll be able to do a great, Class A office building.”

Me, Last Night

44 > 45

Go Ride A Bike!

If last night (and this morning) have been too stressful, here’s a chance to get out on your bike (on Saturday) and join Uptown Boogie (an awesome group for uptown bike-curious riders of all abilities and colors of the rainbow).

It’s a chance to get some exercise, meet some wonderful people, get out of the house, and ride to do community good at Community Food Fridges.

The Community Food Fridge (below) is on the south-west corner of Malcom X Blvd. and West 120th Street.

Upcoming rides happening with:
Uptown & Boogie Bicycle Advocacy!
Saturday, November 07, 2020 10:30 AM
Support Community Food Fridges Ride
Down to Earth Markets, 110th St. & Manhattan Ave, New York

Arrival Time: 10:30AM
Pedals Down: 11:00AM (to allow enough time to purchase items and arrival)
Ride Time: Your own pace
Bikers MUST ride their own bicycle
We are supporting the community food fridges in Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and The Bronx by stocking with the acceptable items. 

[email protected]
Click to learn more


Seen on the fence of the Fred Moore School – East 130th Street:

Visit East Harlem

The official guide to dining, culture, and shopping in East Harlem is undoubtedly not quite the list residents would create, but that is the nature of lists for the visitor.

NYC Go highlights a number of places that we’d all likely recognize and recommend. But there are some selections that would likely make a resident roll ones’ eyes.

Note how on the map, the Jazz Museum is shown to be in its former East Harlem home, and on East 126th Street. As anyone who’s headed to the 4/5/6 train knows, that block – between Lexington and Park – is not where you’d go to listen to jazz, it’s where you’d go to hang with your friends who just got off the M35 bus, or who just got their methadone from a program in the Lee Building.

The Jazz Museum migrated to West Harlem, on West 129th Street at Lenox.

The rest of the map is problematic, but interesting to explore, if only to find the errors. Note how “East” Harlem stretches over onto Malcom X Blvd, for example. Or, how The Africa Center is listed, but has not opened yet.

To see the list of places, take a look at the NYC Go webpage:

Visit 17th Century Dutch NYC

Given the sad state of the NYC Go page, I thought I’d offer a 17th century Manhattan promotional text for potential European settlers:

“This land is excellent and beautiful to the eye, full of noble forest trees and grape-vines ; and wanting nothing but the labor and industry of man to render it one of the finest and most fruitful regions in that part of the world.” He then condenses the accounts given by “our countrymen who first explored this river, and those who afterward made frequent voyages thither.” The trees are “of wonderful size, fit for buildings and vessels of the largest class. Wild grapevines and walnut trees are abundant. Maize or Indian corn, when cultivated, yields a prolific return; and so with several kinds of pulse, as beans of various colors, pumpkins,—the finest possible, melons, and similar fruits. The soil is also found well adapted to wheat and several kinds of grain, as also flax, hemp, and other European seeds. Herbaceous plants grow in great variety, bearing splendid flowers, or valuable for their medicinal properties. The forests abound in wild animals, especially the deer kind; with other quadrupeds indigenous to this part of the country. Quantities of birds, large and small, frequent the rivers, lakes and forests, with plumage of great elegance and variety of colors. Superior turkey-cocks are taken in winter, very fat, and the flesh of fine quality. Salmon, sturgeon, and many other kinds of excellent fish are caught in the rivers. The climate differs little in temperature from our own, though the country lies many degrees nearer the equator than the Netherlands. In winter the cold is intense, and snow falls frequent and deep, covering the ground for a long time. In summer it is subject to much thunder and lightning, with copious and refreshing showers. Scarcely any part of America is better adapted for colonists from this quarter ; nothing is wanting necessary to sustain life, except cattle, which can be easily taken there, and easily kept, 

Wilhelmus Baudartius, of Zutphen; printed at Arnhem, 1624,

Early Voting Hours Extended for NYC

The historic voting numbers have led to changes in voting hours this weekend. But… Don’t wait for an extension. Make a plan. Get on line. Vote. Remember, you’ve been waiting for this for 4 years. Don’t let it slip by.

The New York City Board of Elections’ commissioners on Tuesday voted to extend early voting hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the change may only take effect at polling sites where it is deemed feasible.

Early voting in New York City will likely take place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31; and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1 at polling places that have the ability to handle the extra hours, BOE Secretary Frederic Umane said at a virtual meeting Tuesday afternoon.

“It is our intention to do it, but we may not have the ability to do it for all sites, but that’s what we’re going to try to do,” he said.

American Legion Post #398 Jazz

One of the casualties of COVID has been in-person musical performances. Two years ago I took my parents to the American Legion Col. Charles Young Post #398 to hear some local jazz and enjoy an evening out. The night was magical, and I can only hope that this venue will survive, and then thrive, after COVID.

The entrance to the bar, the food, and the music is down below, through doors in the courtyard’s cinderblock entryway:

Post #398 is located at 248 West 132nd Street. The Yelp reviews are here:

Vote for Him

Food Helpline


Open Streets this weekend!

Hi neighbors,

We’ve now got not just one but TWO Open Streets here in East Harlem! This weekend’s schedule:


Saturday, October 17:

  • COVID testing (rapid & antibody), plus flu shots (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • HIV and Hep-C screenings (10 a.m.-4 p.m.)
  • “Pick your own” produce sales at Pleasant Village Community Garden‬ (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
  • Free smoothies by Get Healthy East Harlem Cafe (Noon-5 p.m.)
  • ‬Zumba with Leo Zumba‬ (2-3 p.m.)

Sunday, October 18:

  • Adventure playground with playground:NYC, powered by Patsy’s Pizza (12-3 p.m.)
  • Obstacle course with Street Lab, plus chalk art with Jess Rolls (12-3 p.m.)
  • Free smoothies by Get Healthy East Harlem Cafe (Noon-5 p.m.)

The street will always be open for scooting and biking, plus our (as Patch put it, “staggeringly long”) community table is open for socially distanced dining from Bistro Casa Azul or any picnic you bring from home.


101st Street has tables and chairs for open-air dining from local small businesses including Lexington Pizza Parlour, Chu Ros Thai, Au Jus Oklahoma BBQ, Burritos y Mas, Mojo Mousse Bar, Joy Burger Bar, Pro Thai, El Tepeyac, MY NY Cafe, Lloyd’s Carrot Cake & more. Plus games and sidewalk chalk for adults and kids!

Also, Saturday nights at 7 p.m., we’re screening film shorts curated by the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival. Grab dinner and a drink from one of the nearby eateries, and join us!

Signs Seen Around The Neighborhood

These signs speak for themselves.

And to sum it all up, a great list from Astor Row:

Events at the Harlem Rose Garden

The Harlem Rose Garden (East 129th Street at 5th Avenue) is hosting a number of events in October. Garden members thought it would be a great idea to host a series of laughter filled movie nights and their annual Halloween bash! 

The events are limited to 25 people. All events will be first come first served and you are required to wear a mask unless eating or drinking. 

To stay COVID friendly we are encouraging members to bring their own personal snacks or dinners. 

Here is the schedule of upcoming events:

Friday 10/16 – Crazy Rich Asians

Seating 6:30 PM.  Start 7:00 PM

Saturday 10/17 – Garden Halloween Decoration  (Help decorate for our upcoming Halloween Bash) 12 PM-2 PM.

Thursday – 10/22  – Movie: We will do a pick of the week, more than likely something scary in the spirit of Halloween!Wednesday

Seating 6:30PM Start 7PM

10/28 *Kids Movie Night *Seating 6:30PM Start 7PM 1HR Movie – Addam’s Family 

Halloween NIghtmare on 129th Street *Candy handout for trick or treaters * Covid friendly games * Custom contests 

Please let the garden know if you are free to volunteer for Halloween, we will also need candy donations!