Hell’s Kitchen: The place East Village Grit Meets the Artsy West Aspect

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Hell’s Kitchen: Where East Village Grit Meets the Artsy West Side

Hell & # 39; s Kitchen is behind the playhouses on Broadway and has long drawn theater folks. For Holly-Anne Devlin, a 37-year-old producer and director, the relationship began while studying theater on the campus of Fordham University Lincoln Center, one block north of the neighborhood's West 59th Street border. Ms. Devlin lived in rented apartments, including a tiny, dark loft that she and her two roommates called "the Bat Den."

Now, in addition to working on Broadway shows, she owns production companies that have toured entertainment such as Wine Lovers: The Musical, where a ticket contains six glasses of wine. Two years ago she bought a one-bedroom apartment in a high-rise on West 42nd Street with a view of the Statue of Liberty. She paid $ 770,000 for it, a real estate bargain that was valued at $ 925,000 in January.

"I was delighted and then this happened," she said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic that has hit this neighborhood harder than most. "I had 111 employees and had to fire them all."

But in the spirit of “show-must-go-on,” Ms. Devlin created Hell's Kitchen Happiness Krewe, which pays artists to visit restaurants and other small businesses to attract customers. "My focus is on joy and revitalization," she said. She used her savings and donations to start the program, she said, and has since taken it to other parts of the city. Over the summer, she co-organized the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee with Marisa Redanty, which has worked with the police and other organizations to bring more security measures to the area, where many homeless people are now housed in hotels.

Corey Johnson, the spokesman for New York City Council, said he represented the district that includes Hell's Kitchen. Ms. Devlin, he said, is a "really good community activist" in a vibrant and "welcoming neighborhood for the vulnerable".

The community involvement came to Chana Widawski while she was sitting on the steps of the building she has lived in for almost 15 years in a small rent-stabilized apartment. "It happened from my front stairs where I was drinking tea or reading," she said. "I met the person on the next flight of stairs" who encouraged them to join Hells Kitchen Commons and the West 45th and 46th Street Block Associations, affiliated groups. She has organized swap events, food waste collections, free outdoor movie screenings, readings, and many other events that are now only virtual or canceled.

Most of them took place in the Mathews Palmer Playground, "our outdoor community center," she said. The playground between 45th and 46th Streets has been renovated, but the funds are still lacking to recreate the historic mural “Against domestic colonialism”. Denise Penizzotto, the artist who was commissioned a few years ago, said the widow of Arnold Belkin, the muralist, gave her his original drawings.

Ms. Widawski, who is over 40 and works for Transportation Alternatives in the financial district (she commutes by bike), said Hell's Kitchen "still felt like an old school neighborhood" when she first came Mal moved there, especially along their row of tenement houses. "It's a nice little community of these little apartments where we can always borrow an egg or a tool from our neighbor."

There were "more mom and pop shops, cheaper groceries, more character," she said. "Now there are more chains, more poles and more skyscrapers."

Stretching from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River (busy commercial street to the sublime park) and from West 59th to West 41st Street (sleek Time Warner Center to the unkempt bus station of the Port Authority), Hell's Kitchen is a Jumble of contrasts. In recent years it has "become more attractive and diverse at every level," said Steven Gottlieb, an agent at Warburg Realty. "It has this really interesting balance between the best of the East Village and the artistic, intellectual West Side."

For many years, walk-in rental homes dominated and are still there. But lately, fancy new buildings have brought in more upscale residents, Gottlieb said, and many felt priced out of the West Village or Chelsea. "It's cheaper," he said, "but not as cheap as people think."

The construction boom continues, said David Chang, the sales manager for Bloom on Forty Fifth, an eight-story modernist-style condominium on the corner of 10th Avenue that winds around a courtyard. Sales begin with studios starting at $ 750,000.

"About two years ago this was a Hess gas station," he said. It will join other brand new structures including The West, a condominium on West 47th Street and 11th Avenue that is not quite finished, and Charlie West, a condominium and rental on West 43rd Street near 10th Avenue .

As in much of New York City, Hell's Kitchen saw huge inventory increases in July, August and September after a lockdown period that banned potential buyers from viewing apartments, said John Walkup, chief operating officer and founder of UrbanDigs, one Property analytics website. Only 14 contracts were signed in September for $ 14.161 million in revenue. This is a huge decrease from the 26 contracts with $ 43.582 million in revenue signed in September 2019. In general, homes listed under "Under $ 2M" are moving around according to Walkup, but anything above is dead in the water or almost. "

At the end of October, 231 Hell & # 39; s Kitchen Apartments were offered for sale at UrbanDigs. The cheapest was a 1929 cooperative studio with a full-time doorman at 457 West 57th Street that was listed for $ 255,000. The most expensive was a five-bedroom, six-and-a-half bathroom penthouse in the Time Warner Center at 25 Columbus Circle, which was listed for $ 62.5 million.

Of the 378 homes available for rent, the cheapest was a studio in a concierge building, which was listed for $ 1,400 a month. The most expensive was another penthouse in the Time Warner Center, which was offered furnished for $ 59,500 (and went up for sale for $ 35 million).

West 42nd Street is home to many Off Broadway theaters, including Playwrights Horizons and Signature Theater Company (in a building designed by Frank Gehry). All are temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Restaurant Row on West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets was a hub for hungry theater goers and is now aimed at local diners. The block is closed to car traffic for most of the day. Other restaurants abound, and Ninth Avenue has become a hub for lively gay bars.

"Hell's Kitchen now has probably the largest L.G.B.T.Q. neighborhood concentration in the city," said Johnson, noting that there are plenty of younger people who fit into the area's creative community.

His city council office recently supported Hartley House, a not-for-profit center on West 46th Street that provides services to children and seniors in a number of townhouses that were in financial danger about a year and a half ago. The agreement, which will allow the nonprofits to stay in the townhouses, will hold the bottom tier as a community center, Johnson said, and will create 23 new affordable homes, with an emphasis on L.G.B.T.Q. to be marketed. Senior citizens.

Hudson River Park meanders along the waterfront, offering hiking trails, runners, and bike trails. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (now open to limited visitors) is located at Pier 86 near West 46th Street. DeWitt Clinton Park, between West 52nd Street and West 54th Street, is the largest park in the neighborhood east of 12th Avenue. Other smaller parks dot the area, including Hell & # 39; s Kitchen Park and Ramon Aponte Park. A new park is to be built on 10th Avenue and West 48th Street.

P.S. 51, Elias Howe School at 525 West 44th Street has 467 preschool through fifth grade students. According to the School Quality Snapshot 2018-19, 41 percent met state standards in English, versus 48 percent in the city, and 47 percent met standards in math versus 50 percent in the city.

P.S. 111, the Adolph S. Ochs School at 440 West 53rd Street, has 407 preschool through fifth grade students. In the 2018-19 state tests, 52 percent met state standards in English and 49 percent in math.

P.S. 212, Midtown West School, 328 West 48th Street, has 339 students. In the 2018-19 tests, 78 percent met the English government standards and 75 percent met the math standards.

Among the subway lines that stop in or near the neighborhood are A, B, C, D, E, N, R, Q, S, W, 1, 2, 3 and 7.

In the mid-19th century, Hell & # 39; s Kitchen was home to industries that served the Hudson River Piers, including slaughterhouses, log yards, warehouses, and factories, according to the New York City Parks Department. Many immigrants moved to shacks and apartments in the area to work in the factories, and some formed rival gangs. In the 1960s, citizens keen to improve the area's image referred to it as Clinton, after a family who owned property there in the 19th century. Most residents, however, prefer Hell & # 39; s Kitchen.

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