The Store (It Would Seem) Is Not Dead (At Least For Now)

by MR Magazine Staff

Bleecker Street has not been alone in its emptiness over the past few years. The number of vacant — and long vacant — storefronts in otherwise safe-and-prosperous New York is unsettling. “It kind of makes you scared for the city, which is geared around pedestrian life,” says former City Planning commissioner Amanda Burden, who can’t understand how landlords can leave the shops along Madison Avenue near her apartment lying fallow. One broker I spoke to, Bruce Ehrmann, said there are about 100 empty storefronts in Tribeca. When Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer sent a team up Broadway last year to count the empties, it got up to 188 — and she and Mayor Bill de Blasio are working on legislation to tax or fine landlords who don’t rent their places already. Cushman & Wakefield’s MarketBeat report for the first quarter of this year put the “availability” rate on Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 49th Streets at 32.8 percent, in Soho at 23.9 percent, and in Herald Square at 31. Maybe because the real-life writer Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and the made-up writer Carrie Bradshaw, heroine of Sex and the City, have both strolled Bleecker (undoubtedly in very different footwear), the fate of this little street has become a sort of real-estate morality tale over the past couple of years. (There’s an entire chapter devoted to it in Jeremiah Moss’s book Vanishing New York.) Read more at The Cut.