Building Up El Barrio 1998By Jose B. Rivera
If East Harlem lived up to it’s reputation, you’d think that nothing new is being put up, nothing is being renovated or cleaned to look nice. But East Harlemites know better. There has never been a time when some building or another was not in the process of being renovated. Every now and then new housing goes up too.
As is the case at East 110th St. between Second and Third Avenues. These are private homes sold to individuals (some from East Harlem). They contain one, two and three bedroom apartments which help to provide much needed housing and also serve to anchor the block with more middle class residents.
The other new homes in East Harlem are the Esperanza homes. They have just been completed on 112th and 111th streets between Second and Third Avenues. And are built by Gabriel and Associates.
Theses homes will open their doors to their owners during the early part of September 1998. Two local celebs will be living there including Yolanda Sanchez, who published a great community newspaper called “Visiones”. Yolanda has also been active in Feminist causes and currently provides leadership as the Executive Director of P.R.A.C.A., a Hispanic Foster care agency. Maria Ramos is another home owner. Ms. Ramos and her two teenage young men hope to move in early September.
“Don Louis’ building being renovated on E. 108 St. and Lex. Ave. Up on 108th and Lexington, a corner building, long plagued by fires is being renovated by “Casa Blanca’s” owner, Don Louis Perez (Casa Blanca is the communities best Butcher Shop). He hopes to provide market value housing at that location. Mr. Perez had a recent scare, when bricks from a section from a facing wall started dropping off his building. His main concern what that the building would be condemned by the city and he would have to build a new structure from scratch. And as we all know, it is easier and less expensive to renovate a building than it is to build one from scratch. Mr. Perez owns other building in the community which he has renovated for housing. In his role as a landlord and local businessman, he has provided housing to our community.
East 102nd street and Second Avenue, is the site of another building renovation. This building has also been plagued by fire in its past. This corner has seen a lot of work during the past few years. The corner supermarket was blown to bits Dec 11, 1993 by a gas leak (this writer made the 911 call that night). The two buildings on either side of the renovated one have also been renovated during the last three years. The saying “you start a journey one step at a time” holds true for East Harlem housing. You fix up a neighborhood, one floor, one building, one block at a time.
So if you live out of the community and can’t see the renovation efforts, or if you live in the community and are too busy to notice, East Harlem is being made a new a little at a time