When the NY Times wrote about the newly resurgent area of 12th St. in West Harlem that runs along the Riverside Drive viaduct -which now features three nightclubs/restaurants seen in the photo to the right- they spent some time selling the area to it's readers as the newest hot spot, describing it as "pulsating" "something fresh" and noting the clubs are the attracting celebrities such as Keith Sweat and Tracy Morgan, as well as "long lines of curvy women."
What the area was lacking however was it's own brand name along the lines of The Meat Packing District, Soho, or the like, that could help make it marketable for real estate agents, developers, and public relation flacks. And of course, promoters who go by the name Blaze.
"Some of the club owners favor the 'new meatpacking area.' Others prefer ViVa, for Viaduct Valley, a reference to the viaduct," the Times wrote, quoting Carlos Saint-Hilaire, the owner of the nightclub Talay, as saying, "We want to do advertising about the area, but first we have to find our name."
Enter Amalia Parthenakis of Amalia Public Relations, a "Fashion, Lifestyle and Travel PR Specialist" based in New Jersey and handling PR for Body Restaurant and Lounge, who has been sending out press releases touting the location of Body in "the newly penned 'Harlem Meat Packing District.'"
Intrigued about all this new branding of Uptown, and curious about who has "newly penned" the area the Harlem Meat Packing District, NYC The Blog sent an email to Amalia Public Relations, inquiring as to who exactly "newly penned" the area, as a search of news and blogs online finds only references to the press release. It took a couple of emails to get a direct answer, and after asking pointedly, "Can you tell me who "newly penned" the neighborhood the Harlem Meat Packing District...Or is that just a term you created to market the area?" Amalia, seeming slightly irritated, responded "Yes," adding helpfully that "it is a marketing concept."
Phew! That was a close one. For a moment there I thought I was totally sleeping on a whole new neighborhood existing in West Harlem all this time right under my nose, and I didn't even know! But now I can go back to ignoring anything happening in the The Harlem Meat Packing District, because it doesn't actually even exist.
(photography of 12th Ave and the Viaduct by J Phillip O'Brien)
UPDATE: Curbed has asserted "The 'Harlem Meatpacking District' nickname for the burgeoning restaurant row/nightlife scene around Twelfth Avenue in West Harlem, a hot topic the past few days, simply will not fly." And their readers are on the case offering their own names for the area such as Produce Packing District, with Curbed allowing that publicists and brokers may now start using ProPack for short.