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NoMad, NYC: Bars, restaurants and more to do in this downtown historic district

Once composed mostly of wholesale luggage, jewelry and flower retailers, office buildings and little residential space, today NoMad, "north of Madison Square Park," is one of the most desirable places to live in the city.

The area takes up just 20 square blocks -- roughly, from 25th to 30th Street, Sixth to Lexington Avenue -- but it’s packed with luxury spaces in historic, loft-like buildings where rents average $5,700 and the median sale price is $3,795,000, according to StreetEasy.

“This area is one of the most exciting for real estate in all of NYC right now,” said NestSeeker broker Ryan Serhant, who stars on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing.” “NoMad hasn’t always had high-end residential living and now people from all around the world want to live here.”

Much of the area's transformation can be attributed
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Much of the area's transformation can be attributed to the opening of high-end hotels in recent years, which spurred business development and then residential.

The Ace Hotel on 29th Street, The NoMad Hotel, just a block away on Broadway, and the Eventi, part of the Kimpton portfolio, were among NoMad's visitor residence pioneers.

The 6.2-acre Madison Square Park, which was built in the late 1800s, is also a draw. The park was home to the original Madison Square Garden and continues to be an important part of New York life. Visitors come to eat at Shake Shack, admire the park's rotating art exhibits or simply enjoy some quiet amid the busy city streets.

Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

"There are way more bars and restaurants here than before, and just a lot of cool stuff going on in this neighborhood," said Will Roush, a 28-year-old musician who moved to the area five years ago.

Residents are also drawn by the area's central location in the middle of Manhattan and its access to the N, R and 6 subway lines.

"NoMad is definitely my favorite place in all of NYC now," said Roush, who added that the area is especially popular among young adults.

"You really don't see a lot of kids here," he said. "It's basically young, single people and couples with dogs."

But its surging popularity isn't always appreciated by
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

But its surging popularity isn't always appreciated by the mom-and-pop shop owners who are fighting to keep their place.

"The changes benefit the big businesses like chain stores, hotels and restaurants, but it's not good for small business owners like us," lamented Shaju, who declined to give his last name, an owner of A-Z Luggage & Essence on 30th Street. He said it's a struggle to keep up with the area's rising rents. "A lot of stores are closed and more are closing. We have been here for 24 years, but I don't know how we will be able to continue."

Where to eat in NoMad

Sweetgreen,1164 Broadway: Be sure to go early during
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Sweetgreen,1164 Broadway: Be sure to go early during lunch hour: This favored spot has some of the freshest made-to-order salads around and draws a big crowd. sweetgreen.com

Lupulo, 835 Ave. of the Americas: This Portuguese eatery, named the language's word for "hops," is on the ground floor of the Eventi Hotel and is great for grabbing a bite after work. lupulonyc.com

Curry in a Hurry, 119 Lexington Ave.: A neighborhood staple since 1976 (former prez Bill Clinton is a fan), this reasonably-priced Indian restaurant features a take-out counter with a large selection and sit-down seating on the upper level. curryinahurrynyc.com

What to do in NoMad

Madison Square Park (pictured), 26th Street and Fifth
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Madison Square Park (pictured), 26th Street and Fifth Avenue: Check out Teresita Fernandez's "Fata Morgana," an overhead mirrored sculpture, bring rover to the dog run or grab a burger at Shake Shack, all within this green space. madisonsquarepark.org

Kalustyan's, 123 Lexington Ave.: Experienced chefs and amateurs alike will be wowed by the selection of specialty spices and other international goodies - Tuscan lentils, Sumac powder and Calabrian crushed chili pepper are all favorites - at this market, open since 1944. kalustyans.com

The Breslin, 16 W. 29th St.: Grab a group of friends and bring a big appetite to feast on a whole roasted suckling pig at this meat mecca inside the Ace Hotel New York. thebreslin.com

Where to shop in NoMad

The Thrifty HoG (pictured), 11 W. 25th St.:
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The Thrifty HoG (pictured), 11 W. 25th St.: This resale boutique features a large selection of vintage clothing, jewelry and furniture with all proceeds benefitting homeless mothers, whom the shop also provides job training for, and children. thriftyhog.org

Project No. 8 at the Ace Hotel, 22 W. 29th St.: This boutique located in the Ace Hotel features a quirky and interesting variety of travel and design items from a well-curated selection of artists and designers. projectno8.com

Flower District, West 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues: Deck out your pad with fresh flowers and plants from the shops in the century-old district on West 28th Street, including Noble Plants, Ode a La Rose and Bill's Flower Market around the corner.

Where to party in NoMad

Desmond's Tavern (pictured), 433 Park Avenue S.: A
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Desmond's Tavern (pictured), 433 Park Avenue S.: A quintessential Irish dive bar operating since 1936. Stop in for the happy hour specials -- like $3.50 glasses of wine, $9 PBR pitchers and $4 cosmos -- and stay for the live music. desmondstavernnyc.com

NoMad Bar, 1170 Broadway: Head to this swanky hangout at the NoMad Hotel for a classy night out. Be sure to try the Cocktail Explosion (a shareable "megacocktail") and the Humm Dog, a bacon-wrapped frankfurter. thenomadhotel.com

Maysville, 17 W. 26th St.: Whiskey lovers will be wowed by the impressive selection at this low-key watering hole, along with its Southern-style menu. maysvillenyc.com

The buzz: NoMad’s rapid development shows no sign of slowing down

On the heels of the Ace, NoMad, Eventi
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

On the heels of the Ace, NoMad, Eventi and Gansevoort Park hotels opening in the area, a Virgin Hotel is slated to open soon on Broadway, and the team behind the Garment District's Refinery Hotel is also working on a NoMad project.

Companies such as La Colombe, Juice Press and SoulCycle have launched outposts in NoMad, and restaurant chain The Smith is opening a location in the area this winter.

Meanwhile, NoMad residents have their pick of new, ultra-luxe and amenity-filled residences, such as 10 Madison Square West and the Bow Building at 242 Fifth Ave., where bows and ribbons used on toys were once produced.

The Bow Building is garnering "insane interest," according to broker Ryan Serhant of the Serhant Team, which represents the project.

"In five years, the people buying in this neighborhood now won't be able to afford it anymore," Serhant said. "There is going to be even more and more positive change. It's a great time to make an investment in NoMad."

Q&A with Mohammad Ashraf: Owner of Chandni Restaurant

Fourteen years ago, Mohammad Ashraf opened Chandni Restaurant
Photo Credit: Jason Lam vis Flickr

Fourteen years ago, Mohammad Ashraf opened Chandni Restaurant at 13 W. 29th St. and has since been serving Pakistani, Indian and African fare to longtime customers and visitors passing through the nabe.

Why did you choose to open in this location?

I was working at a garment and sporting goods store across the street and the landlord asked me if I wanted the space. I couldn't even spell the word restaurant but I took it and just worked hard to serve fresh, affordable food with good service.

How has NoMad changed over the years?

There is no more crime, and business is better than ever now. We have a lot of locals come to eat here, but we also see a lot more people from Yelp and people coming in from the nearby hotels.

Who are your customers?

We get a lot of policemen, taxi drivers and people who come here after going to the mosque nearby. The people who go to pray are wonderful, and we are open all day from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. People can come in and fill their belly for just $8 - where else can people get a meal for that price around here?

NoMad basics

Transportation: Trains: 6, N, R to 28th Street
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Transportation:

Trains: 6, N, R to 28th Street

Buses: M1, M2, M3, M5, M7

Library: The closest NYPL branches are the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library at 40 W. 20th St. and the Epiphany Library at 228 E. 23rd St.

Post office: USPS Greeley Square, 4 E. 27th St.

Crime: NoMad takes up a small portion of the jurisdiction of the 13th Precinct at 230 E. 21st St., which also covers areas such as Gramercy Park and part of Chelsea. The precinct reported two rapes, one robbery and four burglaries in the week of Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, according to its CompStat report. It listed two murders and 19 rapes so far in 2015 as of Dec. 6.

NoMad real estate

To rent: 122 Lexington Ave. #3E: One bed,
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

To rent:
122 Lexington Ave. #3E: One bed, one bath; $2,195/month
45 E. 25th St. #14E: Studio, one bath; $2,500/month
114 E. 27th St. #4A: Two beds, one bath; $3,800/month

To buy:
39 E. 29th St. #2E: Studio, one bath; $1,100,000
45 E. 25th St. #8B: One bed, one bath; $1,295,000
11 E. 29th St. #11C: Two beds, two baths; $2,195,000

2015 NoMad data as of Dec. 16:
Median sales price: $1,995,000
Number of units on market: 231
Median rental price: $5,300
Number of rentals on market: 885

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