Manhattan Valley lures restaurants to spur redevelopment

From left: 936 and 940-942 Amsterdam Avenue
From left: 936 and 940-942 Amsterdam Avenue

Landlords and brokers south of Columbia University are leading an initiative to fill storefronts in the area, commonly known as Manhattan Valley, with food businesses of varying shapes, sizes, and flavors. The bet is that bringing in such venues will improve the area, much like the addition of parks and schools.

“Restaurants can set a tone for a neighborhood, give them a certain look and feel,” Robert Nelson, president of the Nelson Management Group, told the New York Times.

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One building owned and managed by Nelson, at 998 Columbus Avenue, has 3,500 square feet up for grabs — recently left by a deli and 99-cent store. Now, the property is marketed for $70 per square foot, with an eye on food purveyors. La Toulousaine, a French bakery, replaced a barbershop at 942 Amsterdam Avenue, near West 106th Street, and the Ellington at 936 Amsterdam sells half a roast chicken for $18.

A decade ago, the area had only 45 sit-down spots, while now around 70 restaurants fill the blocks from West 96th to West 110th streets. While 99-cent stores, cellphone sellers, shoe repair shops and large banks still dominate several blocks along Broadway, the push to indulge the foodie scene is, brokers said, a harbinger of neighborhood change. [NYT]Julie Strickland