Real Estate Company Drops 'SoHa' Branding Amid Backlash
A real estate company is dropping its effort to rebrand part of Harlem as "SoHa."
Keller Willams has been using the name to describe the area between 110th and 125th streets.
SoHa - short for South Harlem - was supposed to evoke trendy neighborhoods in the city like SoHo, which stands for south of Houston Street, in lower Manhattan.
But the effort to rebrand Harlem touched off a backlash, especially among long-time residents who consider the neighborhood's status as a center of African-American culture and politics threatened by gentrification.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Keller Williams said, "The SoHa Team chose this name because they have lived and worked in this part of Harlem and the Upper West Side for nearly a decade. The team has a passion for the people, the history, and the culture of the neighborhood they also call home. With respect to the neighborhood and people of Harlem, they will change their team name at Keller Williams NYC."
State Sen. Brian Benjamin, a Democrat, said, "The real issue comes when you want to abbreviate the name Harlem. Because once you take the name Harlem out of the definition you are now coming up with a whole new classification of this location. And Harlem is an historic name, representing an historic village. And we want to make sure that anytime anyone represents Harlem, Harlem is in the word, Harlem is in the vocabulary."
As of Tuesday, the real estate team's office still had a "SoHa" sign on its building. It's unclear when it will be taken down.