New York City real estate groupies never tire of inventing new Manhattan neighborhoods (and to a lesser extent in the outerboroughs) whenever a few blocks of an existing community start to take on a new character, no matter how long or firmly the area has already been established in the city’s collective conscious.
The change can involve new construction, or a repurposing of, say, industrial space into NYC rental apartments. It can be spurred on by a wave of new retail establishments, or restaurants, their owners seeking lower rents in fringe or less populated communities. Or it can be sparked by the residents themselves, who land in an overlooked, or mostly non-residential, part of town.
Anyway, two pieces last week reminded me that the realtor’s zeal remains strong for renaming even the smallest slivers of neighborhoods. But however silly these names can sometime seem, there is often real change going on behind the “branding”, and so it’s worth taking note by every seeker of a Manhattan rental apartment.
Welcome to Chumbo! The Wall Street Journal reported on the recent influx of “creative types” who have found surprisingly affordable Manhattan rental apartments in a slice of Chinatown between East Broadway and the water, across the East River from Brooklyn’s super-trendy (and, often, super-expensive) DUMBO neighborhood.
In addition to the relatively cheap Manhattan rental apartments of Chumbo–a three-bedroom rental apartment averages $2,700 in Chumbo, as opposed to $7,000 in DUMBO–the young and adventurous are also drawn to the neighborhood’s authenticity, which usually just means that it hasn’t been overrun by chain stores and glassy new development.
Plus, there’s already a thriving restaurant scene in place for residents of Manhattan rental apartments in these parts–the tiny storefront Xi’an Famous Foods sells excellent lamb sandwiches for example; the Italian small-plates spot Bacaro is pretty and delicious–and it’s within easy walking distance of such in-demand communities as the Lower East Side, the South Street Seaport area, as well as the increasingly cleaned-up and open spaces by the river.
Welcome to NoMad! Also in the Journal was an article about the neighborhood north of Madison Square Park–”NoMad”–centered on Broadway and Fifth Avenue, and for years home to not much of interest for residents of apartments in the vicinity.
The restaurant and nightlife scene in NoMad is very different today, led by the Ace Hotel on 29th and Broadway, which a few years ago offered below-market rents (in exchange for a cut in the profits) to the hip establishments in its lobby, such as the excellent Stumptown Coffee (pictured above) as well as the sceney Opening Ceremony clothing store, in an effort to liven up the neighborhood a bit.
Today, of course, there are more options than ever for Manhattan residents in NoMad, from the other Ace Hotel dining options like the Breslin, John Dory and No. 7 Sub as well as the nearby Hog Pit and Nuella. And it doesn’t stop there: a Museum of Mathematics is opening up down the block from the Museum of Sex, and, possibly coming soon, an outpost of the historic (almost 100 years old!) smoked fish and appetizing legend Russ & Daughters, located in the definitely coming soon NoMad Hotel.
So, will Chumbo and NoMad become permanent additions to the list of Manhattan neighborhoods (e.g. TriBeCa), or will they just be a passing fad (e.g. ViVa–never heard of it… that’s my point)? Only time will tell.
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