1920s: Broadway and West 103rd Street
By Caitlin Hawke
Originally constructed as a hotel just as the IRT was nearing completion in 1905, the Marseilles is a Beaux-Arts neighborhood gem that was landmarked in 1990. This vintage postcard from 1948 shows the Marseilles in the early 1920s (circa). The Marseilles was designed by architect Harry Allen Jacobs.
But you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?
From the annals of Delayed Reaction, comes this post that's been bouncing around my head. The catalyst that moved me to action is a reference I read on 850 West End Avenue's promotional materials touting the "trendy Upper West Side." There is perhaps a trend here but not in the way they mean. What 850 has become is certainly part of a new wave of "alterate" housing, by which I mean neither traditional rental, nor coop/condo. Let's call it micro living. And you can do it at 850 West End Avenue.
The budget traveler might remember this address as "Chocolat", the $40-a-night UWS bargain "hotel and hostel." But a few years back, Chocolat shuffled on. And then it took what seemed like forever for the renovation of 850 West End -- a 6 story building between West 101st and West 102nd -- to be completed. First there was the scaffolding, then the mattresses and all manner of porcelain were hurled out the windows, down chutes, right into curbside containers. Then came the work. Steel beams, hoisted to the roof, concrete, dry wall. More concrete. It was all quite mysterious. And rather ambitious. This was a to-the-studs gut reno replete with swanky roofdeck.
Well, sometime last summer, everything started to gel. The renovation was done, the container hauled off, and the the heavy equipment motored to its next gig. Nothing significantly different about the facade tipped neighbors off to the new reality: a short-term, no-fee rental building -- geared perhaps particularly to foreign students -- in full swing. For the moment, a cool $2K will get you a new micro studio, or what could be alternatively thought of as a "studio-ette" or hotel room plus. Here's how the marketing language goes:
In truth, at 130-250 square feet, these "luxury" apartments are souped-up rooms for rent with mini-kitchens (think hotplates, sink and mini-fridge) and baths.
Seems like the property might be ripe for Columbia University to snap up. Given this mega-landlord-to-our-north's dearth of housing for visitors, it would be a no-brainer. Columbia already has a presence here: the 83-unit 2700 Broadway at West 103rd, completed in 2005. I'd venture a guess that there's more ahead for 850 West End Ave.
But its marketers should know that "trendy," we are not. Yet.
By Caitlin Hawke