Harlem is a large neighborhood in Upper Manhattan comprised of multiple submarkets. Often divided by West, Central, and East Harlem, other neighborhoods within Harlem include Mount Morris Historic District, the Factory District, Sugar Hill, Strivers’ Row Area, Astors Row, Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, and Morningside Heights. Harlem is a soulful community with a rich history, lots of outdoor space, affordable apartments, iconic theaters, and jazz clubs.
Some notable companies with headquarters in Harlem include Infrastructure Engineering Inc., FreshDirect, Lumiode, CO-Office, Harlem Properties, Admit.me, and SoHarlem.
What Our Brokers Say About Harlem Office Space for Lease
The presence of nearby Columbia University and City College provides a cost-effective and steady pool of new talent for hiring or selecting interns. In addition, both Columbia and City College have dedicated funds and resources to developing Harlem as a new hub of tech and biotech startups. Columbia’s Harlem Biospace Incubator provides affordable shared lab space for up to 20 biotech startups, such as SinSa Labs, HYPOTHEkids, and Ardent Cell Technologies. City College incubates hardware, software, and social enterprise startups at the Zahn Innovation Center. Cofound Harlem, Silicon Harlem, and Harlem Garage also share the mission to advance the presence of technology and innovation within Harlem.
Silicon Harlem has worked with universities and businesses in the area to encourage everyone to participate in the digital economy, according to the organization’s website. “We have a commitment to provide inter-generational digital literacy curriculum, tech skills courses, code and programming classes, and ongoing events to share tech and innovation information.” The organization is also working to ensure all citizens and small businesses have access to high-speed internet connection. Silicon Harlem CEO Clayton Banks noted that Harlem already has an entrepreneurial community, so the tech startup community he’s building will likely be successful as well.
Central Harlem is the name for Harlem proper, which falls under Manhattan Community District 10 and includes Morningside Park, St. Nicholas Park, and Jackie Robinson Park. It is bounded by the Harlem River to the north; Central Park to the south; Fifth Avenue to the east; and Morning Side Park, St. Nicholas Avenue, and Edgecombe Avenue to the west. Hamilton Heights and Manhattanville comprise West Harlem. East Harlem, often called Spanish Harlem or El Barrio, is not technically part of Harlem proper. It is, however, part of what is called Greater Harlem. Greater Harlem includes Community Districts 9, 10, and 11.
Development potential is exceptionally high in the Factory District of West Harlem, where Janus Property Company is working on redeveloping vacant industrial buildings and constructing new mixed-use commercial spaces. With recent rezoning efforts and plans for more than 100,000 square feet of new office space in development, Harlem’s latest transformation even landed West Harlem the top spot of StreetEasy’s 2018 list of Neighborhoods to Watch. A world-renowned art gallery, a museum, and a wholesale coffee roaster are already in the works for the up-and-coming area.
East Harlem in particular has seen a significant amount of economic growth in recent years. From 2007 to 2017, the number of businesses based in East Harlem increased by 37 percent. In that same timeframe, private sector employment has grown by 33 percent. Overall, Harlem houses a large number of medical facilities, such as Mount Sinai Hospital. The healthcare industry employs more people in Harlem than any other industry does. Other important industries include retail, professional, education, and hospitality.
Recognized for the cultural and historical significance of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s, Harlem’s food, jazz, and art scene thrives among historic brownstones and green parks. Over the last decade, the area has become increasingly attractive for commercial tenants — including a rising number of startups — seeking low prices among a well-established and culturally diverse community.
Once a business decides to put down roots in Harlem, it’s time to step outside the office and see what else the neighborhood has to offer. Harlem has plenty of opportunities to eat, explore, and get some exercise. Red Rooster Harlem and Harlem Shake are two newer standouts among the dining scene. Our team also recommends Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, Lennox Coffee, Buerre & Sel, Melba’s, and Sylvia’s. If you need some open space and fresh air, take a stroll through the Historic Harlem Parks, including Jackie Robinson Park, Marcus Garvey Park, Morningside Park, and St. Nicholas Park. The parks cover more than 85 acres and comprise about 40 percent of the neighborhood’s open space. Harlem also has plenty of good gyms, such as Blink Fitness – Harlem 125th, New York Sports Clubs, Planet Fitness, and Harlem Branch YMCA.
Harlem Commercial Space For Lease | By the numbers
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Harlem Office Space | Lease Data & Trends
Commercial tenants are renting Harlem office space for an average of around $45 per square foot. Harlem office space is ideal for those trying to avoid high Manhattan and Brooklyn prices. A variety of office space is available, from single-desk offices in co-working spaces to entire floors of renovated buildings.
Residential data shows increasing rent trends. At the current rate, Harlem could catch up to Midtown and Lower Manhattan’s prices in the next ten to twenty years, with commercial real estate prices likely to follow. To learn more about Harlem office spaces and rates, contact one of our experienced brokers.
Getting Around: Transportation in Harlem
Harlem is bounded by the Harlem River and 155th Street on the north; Central Park North on the south; Fifth Avenue on the east; and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, St. Nicholas Avenue, and Morningside Park on the west. Nearby neighborhoods include Upper East Side, Central Park, And Upper West Side.
Harlem is one of the easiest neighborhoods in NYC to access via public transportation. For example, one can get from Midtown Manhattan/Times Square to 125th Street in Harlem in 10 to 15 minutes.
Commuters can reach Harlem via the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, and D trains, as well as 18 Manhattan bus lines and 5 Bronx bus lines. The Metro-North commuter rail connects Westchester County with Manhattan at its 125th Street stop. Seven bridges connect Harlem to the eastern boroughs of New York City. Commuters from Queens can take the M60 express bus, which starts at LaGuardia Airport and cuts through Astoria, crosses the Triboro Bridge, and runs from 125th Street to the Upper West Side.
The continued extension of the 2nd Avenue Q train is expected to create more convenient transportation options, as will the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal.
Harlem has a Walk Score of 99. Walkers will find their daily commute enhanced by the abundance of murals and park space in the neighborhoods, including Riverside, Morningside, St. Nicholas, Marcus Garvey, and Jackie Robinson Parks.
Those who need to travel nationally or internationally to and from Harlem can utilize LaGuardia Airport that’s just 7 miles from the center of the neighborhood. JFK and Newark Liberty International Airport are also within reasonable driving distance.
Top Commercial Properties For Lease In Harlem
Because Harlem is a large, diverse neighborhood with a variety of neighborhoods, it might be intimidating to figure out where to start looking for office space. Check out these three SquareFoot-recommended properties or contact us to see more listings that suit your business needs.
81 East 125 Street: The Corn Exchange Building is a historically landmarked building located at 81 East 125 Street directly adjacent to the 4/5/6 125th Street subway station. First constructed in 1899, this 7-story, 7-unit structure offers about 37,000 square feet of Class A office space. Right now, six units are available, ranging from 808 to 5,000 square feet in size. Contact us for pricing or a tour. Take trains 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 to get here or just walk—the property has a Walk Score of 98. Just steps away from the building lie plenty of food and coffee options including Applebee’s, Starbuck’s, Good Taste, Corner Social, Popeyes, and Lenox Coffee.
2162 3rd Avenue: 2162 3rd Avenue is a Class B office building located in East Harlem. It has 29,607 square feet of rentable area, and six units ranging from 1,343 to 2,617 square feet in size are currently available. Access 2162 3rd Avenue via trains 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. Lunch restaurants Popeyes, Manna’s Restaurant, and Uptown Veg are a few minute’s walk from the office building. Inquire about pricing or request a tour of this property.
2419 2nd Avenue: 2418 2nd Avenue is an office building located right across from the Triboro Plaza in East Harlem. Along with office space, it houses retail space and excellent signage. Currently, 2419 2nd Avenue offers one open unit that is 1,300 square feet in size. Take trains 4, 5, or 6 and use the nearby 125th Street station to get to this property.
Harlem Neighborhood History
Like other areas of Manhattan, Harlem was originally inhabited by Lenape Native Americans then became a Dutch agricultural community. Among the first Europeans to settle the area were Henry, Isaac, and Rachel de Forest. They named their settlement Nieuw Haarlem (New Harlem) after Haarlem, a Dutch city. The new city was incorporated in 1660. The English took over the colony in 1664.
During the American Revolution, George Washington’s troops set up camp in the Harlem area so they could keep an idea on the Harlem River traffic. The Battle of Harlem Heights took place on Sept. 16, 1776. Though the British had more troops, they were outmaneuvered and lost. Before the year was over, the British got revenge by burning Harlem to the ground.
It took a long time to rebuild Harlem, but eventually it became an agricultural community once again. At the end of the Civil War, the economy in Harlem improved, and the area saw an influx of immigrants, especially Italians and Jews. In the early 1900s, Puerto Ricans began moving to the area as well. The black population in Harlem began to increase around 1904.
After World War I, Harlem became known for the New Negro movement and the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance is a celebrated era of African-American culture, defined by the artistic work of Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Josephine Baker, among others. Two of the most famous performance venues during this time, the Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom, are still in operation. Harlem remains a significant hub of African-American businesses and is also the location of the largest African American Day Parade.
In recent years, Harlem has experienced some gentrification as a result of altered city policies, efforts to preserve 125th Street’s retail corridor, and steps to curb crime in the neighborhood. In the early 2000s, Harlem got its first supermarket in 30 years, a movie theater, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Harlem Center, and a Starbucks outlet.