Kalahari Harlem

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40 West 116th Street, New York City, NY

Kalahari Harlem

Bold designs adorn the outside of Kalahari Harlem
Building Information
Developer L&M Equity
Architect GF55 Fred Schwartz, Jack Travis
Number of Units 249
Number of Floors 12
Year Built 2007
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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40 West 116th Street, New York City
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R7-2
Title of Land Condominium



Kalahari Harlem on West 116th Street, north of Central Park, has a bold and very decorative motif on its outer facade inspired by the art of Africa. This is also influenced by its name. Kalahari Harlem consists of two 12 story mixed use buildings that collectively hold 249 apartments, 148 in the building on 116th Street, referred to as 'Tower A', and 101 units in 'Tower B'.

Kalahari Harlem's 'green' marketing slogan
Ownership and occupancy has been governed to include 129 of the apartments to be available at market rate having no restrictions on income or assets. The remaining 120 units will be more "affordable" in that they are subsidized based on household income not exceeding 185% of the area median income. Additionally, the "affordable" apartments only require a 5% down payment.

Kalahari Harlem proudly makes it known that they are a 'Green Building' and strong efforts were taken to create an environmentally responsible structure. From air purification systems to solar panels that supplement power consumption, Kalahari Harlem has gone to great lengths to make this a 'green building'. Even the marketing logo seen in this section makes this fact known.[1]


Kalahari Harlem is located in Upper Manhattan, often referred to as Uptown, in an area known as Harlem. Harlem itself is subdivided into three parts, Central Harlem, West Harlem, and East Harlem. The history of Harlem dates back to the mid 1600s. Early Dutch settlers named the area Nieuw Haarlem after the Dutch city of Haarlem. In 1664, the English took control of the area and tried to change the name of the area to "Lancaster". It did not take hold and the anglicized version, Harlem remained.

General map of Harlem showing boundaries
The Central Harlem boundaries extend roughly from Central Park at the south end to the Harlem River at the north. It is bounded at the east by Fifth Avenue and on the west by Morningside Park, Saint Nicholas and Edgecombe Avenues. The northern edge of what is perhaps the most famous urban park in the world, Central Park, follows 110th Street, just six short blocks from Kalahari Harlem. Other open spaces include the Marcus Garvey Memorial Park, Martin Luther King Playground, and the Samuel Triangle, a nice shady spot to have rest and watch the people.

Kalahari Harlem attracts young families, especially with the availability of controlled "affordable" apartments. As such, there are a number of schools in the neighborhood including PS 149, known as Sojourner Truth School, just over 300 feet away. The Success Academy of Harlem, the Clara Humammad School, and PS 185 are also within a quarter of a mile.

Harlem has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts through gentrification and the construction of new social amenities and services. This attracts more restaurants to the area and today, dozens of culinary choices present themselves to residents of the area covering a wide range of tastes.

The "Walk Score" website assesses this location as a 'walker's paradise' suggesting that a car is not required to fulfill day to day needs. Also, almost 40 transit options are located nearby giving residents quick access to other parts of Manhattan.[2]


Tribal patterns that helped influence the Kalahari Harlem
Kalahari Harlem under construction

Kalahari Harlem is an eye catching mid rise condominium structure consisting of two buildings separated with a private courtyard and garden for the use of the residents. Schwartz Architects, the main design architect of this project, is headed by Frederic Schwartz, who was the founder of the THINK architectural team. This team was the runner-up finalist to the "re-imagine Ground Zero" competition sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Efforts were taken to create a "green building" with the Kalahari Harlem with the intention of achieving a LEED Silver certification. Commentary on this project describes inspiration was derived from several tribal groups from Africa, the Ndebele of South Africa, the Achanti of Ghana, and the nomadic Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, indeed, the namesake of this building. Strong colors with bold designs adorn the exterior facade of the building facing 116th Street creating a striking addition to Central Harlem.

Apartment configurations include studios, one, two and three bedroom units using many variations of floor plans. In addition to the central courtyard, the building includes parking and retail spaces.[3]

Layout and Features

Kalahari Harlem has numerous building amenities that have become expected by condominium owners in New York City. A concierge and a doorman are on the job around the clock. The building is wired for today's modern connectivity requirements including wireless access in public areas.

There is a fitness center for the adults and a children's playroom, which is not for the adults. There are meeting rooms available and even sound proofed music practice rooms. Should something go wrong in the building, the superintendent lives there and will address any needs.

Apartments feature fiber optic wiring for internet connections. Bathrooms are finished with marble and have soaking tubs. Counter tops in kitchens are Lava Gold stone and cabinetry has a natural maple finish. Floors are made of bamboo strips, an easily renewable resource.[4]

Floor Plans

With over 75 floor plans available for Kalahari Harlem, only a brief selection is shown here:


Kalahari Harlem presents many amenities for its residents. Here are the highlights:

  • 24 hour concierge and doorman and on site resident superintendent
  • Fitness center
  • Children’s playroom
  • Sound proofed music practice rooms
  • Meeting rooms
  • Roof deck
  • Wireless Internet access in all public areas
  • Landscaped courtyard
  • Fiber optic cable and Internet wiring
  • Bamboo strip flooring
  • Bosch washer/dryer
  • Bathrooms with a Kohler soaking tub, marble floors, and marble counter with glass tile mosaic accents
  • Kitchens have natural maple finish cabinetry, Lava Gold stone counter tops, and glass tile back splash


Kalahari Harlem Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues No

  • Apartments do not feature balconies, so barbecues would not be allowed
  • Pets are allowed
  • No age restrictions for ownership are imposed


Kalahari Harlem aimed for a LEED Silver certification, and got Gold

Kalahari Harlem was striving to achieve a LEED Silver certification, but bettered it with a Gold instead. Key areas that the building scored well in include "Alternative transportation", "Water Efficiency", "Materials and Resources", and "Environmental Quality".

  • Alternative transportation considers accessibility to public transit, bicycle storage, alternative fuel vehicles (residents may use "Zip-Cars"), and parking facilities.
  • With "Water Efficiency", no potable water is used in the landscaped areas of the gardens and courtyard.
  • "Material and Resources" is rated on how well recycled material is used for the construction and if materials were brought in from a regional location rather than having to be imported from afar. This rating also considers how a project handles its construction waste. Kalahari Harlem scored well in this area.
  • Again, scoring well for "Environmental Quality", the building did well with 'low-emitting' materials, like glues, carpets, and paints, and created views of daylight for the apartments through its innovative design.[5]


The Head Shop beside the Kalahari Harlem

  • Some controversy was stirred when it was discovered that the Kalahari Harlem was built next door to a shop called The Head Shop. Debate raged over how the developers could allow such a thing to happen. Discussions ensued on why this fact was not mentioned in any promotional material about the building. People were outraged at the thought of stoner gear and hookahs being so readily available. However, upon closer examination, it was discovered to be a small independent shop that is part of the African market next door - and it sells Ladies' Hats and Caps, using its clever name.[6]

  • Within the Kalahari Harlem building, is MIST Harlem, owned and operated by My Image Studios LLC. MIST is a fair trade social venture which offers three flexible performance studios for live performance of music, spoken word, and dance. MIST Harlem can also accommodate corporate and community meetings along with banquets, private parties, and production of original content for webcast, either streaming or broadcast. The studios can accommodate up to 900 people standing for performance or 300 people seated for banquets.[7]


  1. Uptown Flavor
  2. Walk Score
  3. City Realty - Review
  4. Street Easy
  5. USGBC - Kalahari
  6. Article - The Gay Recluse
  7. MIST Harlem - Performance Venue

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