‘American Gangster’ sidelined by trendy new retailers

By Orlando Lee Rodriguez

Two new retail tenants on the once desolate strip of Eighth Avenue in Harlem are continuing the shopping makeover of the one-time ‘American Gangster’ neighborhood.

Upscale Indian eatery Maharaja Palace will take over space at 2113 Eighth Avenue between West 114th and 115th Streets. Meanwhile, right next door at 2111 Eighth Avenue, Dr. Michael Cohen’s Tribeca Pediatrics will open its first Manhattan clinic north of 96th Street.


“This corner is transitioning,ˮ said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the Douglas Elliman Retail Group, who brokered the deal with president Joseph Aquino and Arthur Maglio.

“The same [restaurant] owner has had a popular restaurant on Madison Avenue. This expansion into Harlem speaks volumes about the neighborhood,ˮ added Consolo.

“Just as Starbucks is a marker for an emerging neighborhood, a sophisticated pediatric clinic is a sign it has arrived.”

Once a magnet of narcotics trafficking, the section of Eighth Avenue where both leases were signed stands right next to the one-time heroin headquarters of Frank Lucas, who was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie American Gangster.

Sometimes called ‘FDB’ by recent transplants to the area, in the past 10-years the once desolate Eighth Avenue strip has been transformed by a line of new condo buildings, hip restaurants and beer gardens replacing its weed strewn lots and abandoned buildings.

Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group has been active in Harlem over the past few years bringing in mostly government and medical service clients, like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the IRS.

However, the two newest Eighth Avenue leases may indicate a tipping point for the ‘Queen of Retail’ as more Harlem residents crave more upscale retail services within walking distance.

Consolo, whose established portfolio contains many of the city’s more upscale retailers — said, “The development of more residential space in Harlem is certainly helping to drive the growing retail. Once you hit a critical mass, then new residents are attracted to a growing, lively retail scene.”

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