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Much-traveled Hell’s Kitchen political activist and residential realtor Paul Devlin knows all about local land issues in the place he calls home. Here’s Paul’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I moved to New York City after time in DC, Toronto, London and my hometown of Boston. Since moving here, I have launched my “third” career by becoming a residential real estate agent. My first career was in professional campaign management and my second career was in government relations for large land developments like energy facilities, housing complexes, and hospitals.
The benefit of being a real estate agent is that my job gives me the flexibility to spend time engaged in Democratic politics (I’m one of the elected Democratic Party District Leaders), and to spend time providing guidance on local land use issues — I’ve been appointed to Manhattan Community Board 4 and serve as Co-Chair of the Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee. New York gives me the chance to combine all three of my passions of home buying, politics and land development.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
The first job of my life was delivering newspapers; when I was in middle school I had a morning route and an afternoon route in the days when newspapers had two print runs. My first hourly paycheck job was afternoon shifts at Dunkin Donuts sweeping floors and emptying trash. My first job in New York City was the Election Day Coordinator for Corey Johnson for City Council. Now I’m a residential real estate agent working for the oldest brokerage in the city, Brown Harris Stevens.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
There are many favorite moments, and they involve running into a wide range of people, reminding me of our humanity no matter how successful we are and how far we’ve travelled. I’ve run into old friends visiting from other parts of the world with their families when I didn’t even know they were here in New York! I once bumped into a business school classmate from Basel, Switzerland with his wife and kids. It’s not uncommon to see world famous stars on the streets like Edie Falco walking in the Village with her kids or Timothee Chalamet in line to vote on election day. We are all in this great pool together.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
There is a sense of “neighborhood” here that I don’t feel in other parts of the city. Beyond the familiarity with my barber, dry cleaner, laundromat, coffee shop, bakery, butcher and bodega, there’s a layer of longtime HK residents that make this neighborhood unique. Regularly seeing members of Hell’s Kitchen Generations Project on the streets reminds me of the families that have been here for close to a century. That demographic is then interspersed with an influx of newcomers from other states and countries that makes this neighborhood vibrant. Because of the preservation of the iconic tenement housing surrounded by tall new developments, Times Square and the Hudson River, I’ve found Hell’s Kitchen to be the quintessential combination of all the great things New York City offers.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I don’t have a “Clark Kent” personality, what you see is what you get from me.
What else should we know about you?
I believe that home ownership is the key to building generational wealth. I constantly strive to find ways for people to reach the goal of owning property. Our democracy has evolved from the days of voting restrictions limited only to white, male, landowners, but property ownership remains the major force in building wealth that is passed from one generation to the next. It is critical that we figure out ways for government and financial institutions to allow those who have been disenfranchised to gain from the system.
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Paul’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Sullivan Street Bakery — 533 W47th St (between 10th/11th Ave)
Having a buttery, flaky croissant with coffee in the morning at Sullivan Street Bakery while watching Maya and Jim orchestrate their wholesale business is a motivational way to start the day. Taking home a country loaf or baguette for dinner rounds out my evening.
Amy’s Bread — 672 9th Avenue (between W46/47th St)
I swear I gained my “COVID-19” during the height of the pandemic by eating Amy’s cakes and cookies. The seasonal pies are outstanding; a friend once took a bite of a cherry pie from Amy’s and declared: “This is sublime!” The semolina raisin bread toasted with peanut butter is unbeatable.
Poseidon Bakery — 629 9th Avenue (between W44/45th St)
My mother was taught to cook large meals by our Greek neighbors, and we only had galaktoboureko on special occasions — but at Poseidon they make it fresh every day! My family is delighted when I bring sheets of spanakopita and baklava home for the holidays to share.
K Rico — 772 9th Avenue (between W51/52nd St)
Of all the steak houses I’ve eaten in across the world, K Rico is one of the best. Tommy has created a cozy environment to splurge on an extravagant dinner.
NYC Velo Bicycle Shop — 590 W45th St (at West Market, 11th Avenue)
The staff here always make sure my bicycle is in tip-top shape for my rides up and down the Hudson River. Even when they are at their busiest, I can always count on a gracious smile and warm wishes for a successful day of pedaling.
Galaxy Diner — 665 9th Avenue (between W46/47th St)
Sitting at the high-top tables facing Ninth Avenue is a great way to have lunch, see neighbors, and watch the world go by.
Piccinini Bros — 633 9th Avenue (between W44/45th St)
Their expansion from wholesale to retail during the pandemic has added a tremendous resource to this neighborhood. When I want to sear a sirloin at home, Piccinini is the place to go for the best cuts.
Trimmed Barbershop — 748 9th Avenue (between W50/51st St)
Albert has been cutting my hair ever since I moved to Hell’s Kitchen and we always have a good laugh together when I sit in his chair.
Pier 84 — 555 12th Avenue
When I need to step away from the hustle and bustle, walking out to the pier to sit in the sun on the grass, or renting a kayak at the boathouse, is a true escape. The Hudson River Park is one of our neighborhood’s undervalued gems
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
You can follow Paul on Instagram @pauldevlin2000. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself) please fill in this form —w42st.info/WSSnominations
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.
It’s so great to hear about my old neighborhood from a fellow activist and friend. Paul has dedicated himself to serving the people in HK. So proud of him.
Paul Devlin is not only my district Leader and has been instrumental in bringing about change and giving us a voice in the district. We also hired him as our ￼Realtor and I can’t sing enough praises.
“Paul Devlin is one of the most approachable people I know whether you have a community concern, a question about a public policy or just want a hug and a good laugh with a neighborhood friend. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and provides everyone with a sense of comfort when he explains even the most arcane details about some political issue. Hell’s Kitchen is a better place because of Paul. Thanks for the great profile of him.”
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