Earlier this month, The Real Deal reported that several of the small businesses at 125th and Frederick Douglass Blvd have settled their lawsuit against Kimco Realty, who plans to demolish the entire block of low-rise buildings and replace them with a big-box shopping mall. There were 16 tenants evicted by the Kimco plan--many of them, including Bobby's Happy House, have already closed.
The block, once filled with life, is now half dead.
I went to 125th Street last fall, when Bobby's was still there. It was a chilly day, but there was a crowd out front of the 61-year-old business. In the window, a television showed Michael Jackson in his prime, and men were dancing along with him, mimicking his steps on the sidewalk. Bobby's closed on Martin Luther King's birthday this year.
Today, the store is boarded up. The awning is down, revealing an old sign from a shoestore with an angry boot called "boss" who looks ready to kick someone. Bobby moved to this site about 20 years ago, after Kentucky Fried Chicken booted him from his corner spot.
city high sports
Next door, in the window of former apparel store City High Sports, African-American mannequins lay in naked pieces, in piles of arms and legs, torsos dismembered. The beauty supplier and the nail salon have also had their faces ripped off. Soon, the rest of the businesses, from Manna's soul food to Roti Plus and the House of Seafood, will be gone.
formerly beauty supply, formerly spatz furniture
What will come, we can well imagine. Everyone knows what a brand-new shopping mall looks like. And feels like. There probably won't be middle-aged men moonwalking out in front of it.