There are barometers for New York City. Things that can tell you about a neighborhood, that it is on the move and has a new identity. Perhaps a catchy acronym that real estate brokers and their customers can wield as a balm to soothe any fears of investment or as a location to actually live in.
A Fairway market is also a good barometer. This store is well loved in the city. It is a large operation, and it is doubtful that they are going to make an investment in a neighborhood with no promise of growth and development for residential use. And I would go as far to say that they are a contributing factor in the livability of an area - particularly a neighborhood transitioning from commercial/industrial use to residential, such as Red Hook in Brooklyn - places that are somewhat remote and have a dearth of services.
Manhattanville, an area of West Harlem stretching from 125th to 135th Streets was an independent village in the 1800s. The area furthest west against the Hudson River along 12th Avenue is called ViVa, for Viaduct Valley. The tiny neighborhood sits under the Riverside Drive viaduct, built in 1901. The area includes West Harlem Piers Waterfront park (from 125th to 132nd Streets), which was opened in 2008 and includes a fishing pier, a kayak launch and water taxi landings.
ViVa, at one time a meat packing district and more recently a manufacturing and warehouse district, has taken some time to gain momentum - Fairway has been in the neighborhood since 1995. Restaurants have led the renaissance, and 12th Avenue has become a restaurant row - see article here.
Columbia University is the big player here, with a major expansion planned. Property has been acquired for their new 18-acre campus - see map here.
Of course, not everyone has the assets of real estate developers, new residents or Columbia University. Depending on who or where you are, I imagine many, but not all, are cheering, Viva ViVa...
Note: The Cotton Club shown in the photo has no historical connection to the original club, which was located in Harlem.