Alphabet City extends from 14th Street to Houston Street, in between Avenue A to Avenue D. Historically the area has always been diverse. German immigrants first developed the area in the 1800s, and later in the 1900s Irish, Italian, Jewish communities were established in the neighborhood. By the 1980’s a large number of Puerto Ricans settled in the area, many of whom were artists and musicians who helped establish the creative culture of the area. Additionally, the area is known for Tompkins Square Park, the Nuyorican Poets Café, galleries, cafes, and now for its apartments.
In recent years, Alphabet City has attracted developers and young buyers. Although the history of the area was once marred by drugs and violence (New Yorker’s coined different names for each avenue such as Alive, Breathing, Comatose, Dead), the growth of real estate developments and a vibrant artistic culture have transformed the area, making it a very sought after location to live. For instance the Flowerbox Building, the first luxury condo off Avenue D, developed by Seth Tapper and designed by Derek Sanders in 2007, is renowned for the flowerboxes on every window.
“The building’s name – along with its inspiration – was based on the idea that in any neighborhood, flowerboxes in windows are a sign that residents care about their building and their neighborhood.”
In 2014 the Adele, a luxury rental building, was developed and provides spacious, light, and modern apartments with excellent views. This up-scale building on Avenue D illustrates how development in the area has helped transform it to an attractive neighborhood to live. New developments are already underway, such as Extell Development Company who is constructing a new 106-unit building between Avenue A and B. Doug Steiner, developing a condo building on East 12th Street and Avenue A, initially had trouble securing financing since the “project was so unprecedented for the area”. The new development with large floor plans has secured a number of buyers who are expected to move in by the end of 2017. Curbed reports that these condos will be sold from $1.675 million and $5.395 million. Avenue D, once known for being dangerous, has become a highly desirable location.
Although there are many positives stemming from the residential growth of the neighborhood, some critics have been concerned that this new wave of development will make the area unaffordable for long term residents. The Housing Development Fund Corporation, run by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), has developed “tens of thousands of affordable homes as shareholder-owned … cooperatives” to help bridge the gap for affordable housing. Article XI of the Private Housing Finance Law requires that these co-ops are reserved for people or families whose incomes are not more than 165 percent of area median income (AMI), although some co-ops will have lower thresholds such as 120 percent AMI. In exchange for providing units to people under a certain income, HDFC co-ops benefit from paying less real estate taxes. HDFC buildings have become an important part of Alphabet City as these co-ops account for 40 percent of the housing. As new development boosts the real estate market and prices in the area, HFDC buildings maintain affordable housing for residents.