Historic Hip-Hop Birthplace May Get New Life As NYC Helps Finance Delinquent Bronx Building Loan Buy; “A Great Moment For 1520 Sedgwick": DJ Kool Herc
From The Bronx, New York, The New York Times reports:
- Housing advocates, tenants and elected
officials(1)have declared a victory in the Bronx with the announcement of the sale of the mortgage on an apartment building that has been called the birthplace of hip-hop. The sale, which was financed with significant help from city agencies, was the first step toward bringing in new owners after what tenants called an era of neglect.
- The hulking brick tower at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue(2) has been a haven for generations of working-class families. In the early 1970s, a young resident named Clive Campbell, otherwise known as D.J. Kool Herc, held much-celebrated parties in the community room — parties that played a crucial role in the early evolution of hip-hop.
- The building was sold in 2008 to a real estate group that included Mark Karasick, a prominent real estate investor, as part of a wave of deals in neighborhoods that had long been ignored. [...] When the real estate bubble burst, the building’s conditions deteriorated, leaving tenants to battle rats, roaches and the threats of foreclosure. [...] The city provided a $5.6 million loan to [finance the purchase of] the building’s mortgage from Sovereign Bank for $6.2 million.
- Gloria Robinson, president of the Sedgwick tenants’ association, said the sale offered the prospect of much-needed relief. “It had gotten to a point where nothing was being done properly around the building,” Ms. Robinson said. “The garbage wasn’t being picked up, the floors weren’t being cleaned. It just got really, really bad. It’s like we’re starting fresh now.”
- D.J. Kool Herc called it “a great moment for 1520 Sedgwick Avenue.” “This is a historic site,” he said. “This is where hip-hop comes from. This is it
For more, see Hope for a Bronx Tower of Hip-Hop Lore.
See also: Press release from the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York: Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Schumer, Congressman Serrano, Speaker Quinn and City Housing Officials Cestero and Jahr Announce Plan to Rescue South Bronx Housing Complex.
Go here for more on the history of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, and here for a 2007 New York Times story on 1520 Sedgwick that asks Will Gentrification Spoil the Birthplace of Hip-Hop?(4)
(1) The public announcement, which took place on September 7, drew the usual suspects: Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the never-media-shy U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Jose E. Serrano, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero and New York City Housing Development Corporation President Marc Jahr.
(2) For those hop-hop fans planning a pilgrimage to 1520 Sedgwick in The Bronx (not to be confused with Florida's 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, located in the city of Titusville, in Brevard County), and wonder exactly where it is, it is located just north of the Cross Bronx Expressway and along the Major Deegan Expressway, little more than a stone's throw from the historic George Washington Bridge. Go here for a local street map and directions.
(3) Speaker Quinn noted DJ Kool Herc's role in the history of 1520 Sedgwick in her public statement. “Three decades ago, DJ Kool Herc mixed funk songs with African beats and rap, and hip-hop was born during a house concert in the basements of 1520 Sedgwick. Hip-hop has often been an expression of hardships and 1520 Sedgwick has seen its fair share of struggles. After the fiscal crisis, 1520 Sedgwick became a victim of predatory equity investors, and we were at risk of losing a historical and cultural landmark. But with this purchase and $3 million of Council funding for repairs, we will now see the rebirth of 1520 Sedgwick – and maybe see history created once again. I’m particularly excited that this will give tenants a chance to recreate their homes, not to mention the possibility of one day converting the building into a co-op. I want to thank the Mayor, Senator Schumer, Congressman Serrano, HPD Commissioner Cestero and HDC President Marc Jahr for continuing to think of creative solutions to save the City’s distressed buildings.”
(4) Three years later, one can say that while gentrification didn't spoil the birthplace of hip-hop, the failed attempt at gentrification almost did.