According to The Daily News, Bohemia Realty has already opened four coffee shops on the ground floors of buildings they're marketing in north Harlem, in a bid to make the units upstairs more attractive to prospective tenants. The landlords themselves have invested in the shops, putting up capital and giving the brokers generous deals on the initial rents.
One broker who co-owns the Chipped Cup on West 148th St has already seen a return on his $90,000 investment, after paying just $1,100/month for the retail space, which he had originally listed on behalf of the landlord back in 2012. Similarly, agent Jeff Green has been even more successful, with his Manhattanville Coffee on West 142nd Street "bustling with locals all day long." The building had perpetually struggled to find tenants, but is now completely sold out with units asking $500,000 each.
Bohemia broker Andrew Ding thanks the newer landlords in north Harlem for their openness to the neighborhood's far-reaching demographic changes. Through his own coffee shop—which is in a Census tract that is 300% whiter than it was ten years ago—he hopes to help fundamentally change a neighborhood that he claims has wallowed in "mediocrity" for decades.
Naturally, many locals are not so charmed by this arrangement, with Reverend Nicholas Richards of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church saying that it sends "a really bad signal" to long-standing residents that "services are coming into their communities that they can't afford."
"Four dollars for a latte is exorbitant in any part of the city, particularly because we're still in a really difficult economic time," he said.
· "Brokers give gentrification a push by opening a string of coffee shops in Harlem" [NYDN]