Monday, April 22, 2013

6th's Seedy Strip

VANISHING

For years, one stretch of 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village has harbored a little piece of old Times Square, hearkening back to a delightfully crummy cacophony of sex shops, tattoo parlors, and hot dog stands. It has been a small beacon of hope--that this can survive in the new city. But now, in one fell swoop, the seedy carnival is vanishing.



The Real Deal has reported that the "retail condo" occupied by Papaya Dog, the sex shop Fantasy Parties, and Fantasy Tattoo has been sold. The developer who bought it "expects to replace the tenants with more mainstream retailers."

Already, "the well-known sex store Crazy Fantasy closed its doors with the sale and vacated as part of the purchase agreement."



The developer "said he expected to boost the rents significantly in the neighborhood."

And how will he do that? With national chains, of course: "He was putting together a list of potential tenants he would like to lure to the space, such as lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, cosmetics chain Sephora, sweet shop Dylan’s Candy Bar, fast fashion seller Aeropostale and sport retailer Under Armour."



A longtime sales clerk at Fantasy World told the Real Deal, “They didn’t really want us here,” referring to the local residents. “It took a lot to get this open because people don’t want a sex shop in their neighborhood. But we’ve never had any problems.”

With humanity and depth, the developer describes his plans to boot them: “We hope to reposition that asset with a high-end, value-add tenant--something along the lines of Nespresso."

Of course, developers' hopes run high and reality doesn't always match up. What we will probably be saddled with here is a 7-Eleven, a frozen-yogurt joint, and a Denny's. Either way, high or low, another piece of New York succumbs to the chains of America.


See more of my photos here

36 comments:

John M said...

Death by a thousand squeaky clean, homogenized, germ-free, cookie-cutter cuts.

Ben Bassak said...

Music Inn is right down the street. How long before that's a TD Bank?

esquared™ said...

I called it in the comment here http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2012/03/soy-cafe.html?showComment=1333028888154#c5204402858653493336.

One of the few remaining spots where I can be me and not feel so self-conscious.

John K. Friedman said...

I lived around the corner, on W. 4th between Cornelia and Jones -- for 20 years until 2008. The bastardization of this neighborhood began a long time ago. I think it all started going down hill when the City agreed to move the annual National Marijuana Day demonstration from Washington Square to Battery Park, effectively killing it. (Really short sighted, City -- think of all the dark-skinned young men you could have stopped and frisked at National Marijuana Day!)

Some will attempt to dispel any angst over this trend by saying "NYC has always been changing" which is true of course. What's different this time is that what was unique about the city is being replaced with what's homogenous about damn near everywhere else while in the past unique business gave way to unique business.

When faceless corporations from other places own the "local" businesses there is no path for the local population to build wealth. This is nothing less than the destruction of the NYC middle class. It has nothing to do with hipsters v. non-hipsters, natives v. transplants. It never has; it's always been and will always be about money.

everettsville said...

When I stumbled on this blog back around 2008, it seemed to be mostly concerned with identifying and defining the Young Urban Narcissist and lamenting the proliferation of this personality type which was incompatible with the literary and working class culture of the East Village.

Now, just a few years later, the emphasis of this blog seems to have shifted. It now documents the deliberate and methodical top-down conversion of Manhatttan's street-level environment, storefront-by-storefront, building-by-building, block-by-block to one that caters to and reflects the values of the upscale "yunnie" and his less-glamourous kin, the status-quo suburbanite.

I still know people who argue that New York has always changed and this is just more of the same in that great tradition. What I think they fail to see is that -short of a total collapse of the global corporate economy- there is no imaginable process by which a major retail chain becomes a family business again, a major bank branch becomes a bodega or a high-end designer store becomes a dive bar.

Ken Mac said...

As I live around the corner I should be happy to see these go. But I am not. I'd rather the sex shops than the neighboring tattoo parlor. And we know what will soon be coming to replace the XXX. What's next? IFC leaving due to rents? Cleveland...

Mitch said...

I am especially bummed about Papaya Dog. Unlike their brethren around the city, they sold veggie dogs.

JAZ said...

Ugh - I love walking up 6th in the Village just for that reason; it allows me to pretend that some areas are safe from the endless whitewashing. And that Papaya Dog is a great spot to get a filling lunch without emptying your wallet.

I guess we need to look on the bright side - we're gonna have like the most awesome mall in all of like Orange County, dude!

JAZ said...

Oh, and the comments of CB2 chair David Gruber should give pause; this is the thought process of the Boards who should be most interested in preserving the character of their neighborhoods, but instead say things like this:


(from DNA Info story)

Community Board 2 chair David Gruber welcomed the departure of the porn shop, which he said had been "the bane of that area for some time."

"Finally it's been sold," he said Thursday. "It's time to clean up that part of the Village."

It's like we're living in the fucking Twilight Zone. Who the hell are these people, and why do they get to take over an entire city? A shop that never caused a problem in the neighborhood is "the bane" of the area? Why, because they sell GOD FORBID, sex toys? RIP NYC

Anonymous said...

Interesting read. Thanks.

R. Charles said...

Jeremiah,

FIrst, let me just say, I adore you. You are a treasure, to be sure.
But I can only applaud the end of the era of sex and tattoo shops that have littered that corner at least as long as I've been in business there, some 16 years. And the hot dog place is a creep attractant, which has been surveyed overhead by a huge police camera ever since the gang of girls knifed somebody there.
It's a part of our neighborhood that I don't mind seeing vanish.

Rebecca Charles
Pearl Oyster Bar

P.S.
I still adore you.

Jeremiah Moss said...

esquared, you definitely called it. it had that look of doom. might as well put a big target on these types of places.

Ben, i worry about Music Inn, too, every time i walk past.

Rebecca, i welcome your adoring disagreement.

and to the rest: AMEN

R. Charles said...

Whew!
I'm relieved that this hasn't come between us!

Rebecca

Marty Wombacher said...

I moved out of New York on October 18th, last year. I plan on returning for a visit this October, a year later and I'm starting to get frightened of what I'm going to find. At least the Waverly is still standing...right?

Crazy Eddie said...

I know, I’ve posted this before but it’s still relevant “This is the way the world ends: This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper.” The comments here on this tread (Bravo!) eviscerate that all too common RE industry troll excuse that NY changes blah, blah, blah. Once a chain store is in, it always be a chain store. But as Jeremiah’s attached links on the right side of his blog aptly illustrate, the people moving in here now like this type of development.

Mark said...

I do want to point out that this was actually a very nice corner, sometime within living memory...mine, at least. The ground floor of that triangular building held a wonderful Italian restaurant called La Groceria, where we had dinner many Sunday nights. There were shoe stores and other businesses adjacent to it. I have to say I'm not unhappy to see the current businesses go. However, I'm sure that whatever takes their place will make me very unhappy. http://dlib.nyu.edu/washingtonsquare/2333.1/k3j9kdjz/wsa_2_1_43s.jpg

Anonymous said...

This is all getting depressing...

glamma said...

D@mn that sucks!!!

Anonymous said...

In NYC for 27 years now. I lived on West 4th and 6th right near these shops from 1989 to 1992. Glad I did when I did. The culture of this area like every other area of NYC is being destroyed. It used to be that if you were a middle/working class kid and wanted to forge an interesting existence in your adult life you could come to NYC and do that. People like Patti Smith would come here from the 'burbs of Jersey with absolutely nothing in their pockets and still manage to find their way into a creative and meaningful life. Now? Any kid from that same background couldn't even consider it. In fact I would advise any kid like that to stay away from NYC, there's nothing here but crowds and tall buildings. Everything else that was unique has just about vanished.

Somewhere down the road, and it may be long after were all gone, people are going to realize that New York isn't even worth going to anymore. Why pay huge sums of cash to live in or visit a place that has all the same things you have in the suburbs? When this cycle of high-end chains and blandness passes maybe, maybe NYC will return to something resembling its former unique self.

everettsville said...

Mark @ 1:30, thanks for the photo. That looks like a beautiful place.

BabyDave said...

Mark 1:30. Thank you for La Groceria! I had breakfast there many times. For the life of me, though, I couldn't remember the name.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca - Thank you for giving everyone the perfect example of NIMBYism.

Anonymous said...

Forgive this far tangent: finally visited the "new" Roosevelt Memorial at Roosevelt Island, an opus in granite that resolves to an open room facing squarely at the UN... anyhow, I came away depressed, and yes, thought of this blog, because the walk to & from the memorial is past the old hospital buildings that are still in use but clearly doomed (hi-tech campus don't need no stinkin old buildings!) and then it became so clear: that otherwise lovely memorial, designed by the great Lou Kahn in the early 1970s, was the ultimate RE Foot In The Door, it was The Thing that was promised to scrub the Welfare Island moniker from the place and make it safe for "middle income" residents.

Anyhow: that was 40 years ago, the memorial is finally built, and somehow its as if it was waiting for the rest of the city to be as thoroughly scrubbed before it could be realized.

Kahn, of course, died anonymously in the depths of grubby Penn Station... will it be, in an awful twist of fate, that Grubby Penn Station will be the last remaining vestige of 70s - early 90s Manhattan, like some urban petri dish, a surviving culture in the wreckage of the old Penn?

Caleo said...

Anon. 2:38- I was one of those working class kids who grew up in a third tier industrial city in upstate New York and moved to NYC in 1988. I moved into an S.R.O. and realized that I had finally found my true home.
And if I was 18 today, it would be impossible to move here. And I don't think we'll have to wait until we're all long gone before people realize that moving here isn't worth it anymore. This city is being systematically transformed by a specific class of people with a well planned agenda. They certainly don't care about working class kids, or anyone else that doesn't have an enormous amount of disposable income to blow on outrageous rents. They use stratospherically high rents to actively push out "undesirable" elements. The luxurification of Manhattan is exactly the type of city they want, and we won't have to wait long to see the end result.
The servile class will be allowed to live in the Bronx, Queens and New Jersey, and take ever longer commutes to work for the master class in the city center, which will be reserved for tourists, students and the monied elite.

Nimby said...

Rebecca, right. Like high-end and yuppie places don't attract creeps and cretins. They just can afford to have PRs and lawyers. See Dorrians. Don't judge a book by its cover.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Anonymous 3:58
Was on Roosevelt Island last week in the afternoon. Strangely deserted, except for clusters of soon-to-be dispossessed rehab patients (with Cornell moving in & half the hospital closing).
I hate the way Manhattan & parts of Brooklyn are getting duller & ever more smug & just the non-stop race to tear down, refit or fill in every old store, lot, or deserted corner. So fast. City as theme park (or a bigger version of that curated strip of Bergen Street, Jeremiah). My kids, born in NYC, certainly can't afford even a closet-sized space in those parts, & are making a life in non-hipster/wealthy areas of Queens with a strong working/middle class multicultural presence, a zillion small businesses (grubby & otherwise)& where you can walk in streets that crackle with energy. As beautiful as some of the older Manhattan & Brooklyn? No, but interesting, affordable neighborhoods. There's plenty of the other city left for now (how about the Bronx?), but the train rides there get longer.

Anonymous said...

And this is what the city's "creatives" are up to next month ... putting on a so-called arts conference dedicated to the "exploration" (read: exploitation) of the remnants of the city's "untapped capital."

http://www.ideas-city.org/about

Truly, we are all Bloomberg now.

Caleo said...

Agree with onemorefoldedsunset. As real human beings get pushed further away from Manhattan, the real city, one of working class/lower middle class, will take root in the outer rim of the remaining boroughs.
I have started to explore Queens in a serious way, as well as the Bronx, and there is plenty of affordable housing and mom and pop shops to go around.

Ed said...

On the tangent, Roosevelt Island is becoming "gentrified" (well whatever you call it when real estate developers replace a middle income neighborhood with a high income neighborhood), but I don't think there is a connection with the memorial. The memorial took 40 years to build probably because in the city it takes a really long time to get things done that don't have an immediate pay off for real estate interests.

I agree with the other comments that New York is getting very close to being a sort of suburb that is unusually crowded and expensive, though at least you don't need a car. Other than not needed a car, not sure why it will be worth it.

Brendan said...

Shhhh don't tell people about Queens and the Bronx!

glamma said...

Wait. PAPAYA DOG HAS VEGGIE DOGS???

The single meat item I actually missed after becoming a vegetarian was papaya dogs.

You are rocking my world!

haha, my capcha was "getsum."

; )

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Mark for remembering La Groceria. A great place. I lived on both Cornelia Street and Carmine Street (the IHOP site was a supermarket!) for a number of years and knew a lot of the nabe's "red sauce" Italians. Many of whom were angry when the sex toy shop opened in the early 1990's. At that time the long block between W4th and Bleeker was still primarily a neighborhood shopping strip. The sex toy shop was part of its transformation into a tourist and bar hopper Mecca.

Anonymous said...

La Groceria! I tossed and turned last night trying to remember the name! And yes, as a native, I considered the sex shop and hot dog stand new and awful interlopers.

Brian Dubé said...

Looks like the $2 meal may slowly become a thing of the past.

Sinestra said...

Wow, I'm seriously sad right now. Caleo and One More Folded Sunset got it right.
This isn't organic change, this is change orchestrated by the wealthy with an agenda in mind- homogenization, corporatization, and catering to the hypocritical and judgmental "family values" set.

Anonymous said...

In the thirties, my great-grandfather (an Episcopal priest) used in his retirement to volunteer to celebrate the Sunday services at the Welfare Hospital on what is now Roosevelt Island. He, my great-grandmother, and my great aunt lived a one bedroom apartment on Grammercy Park.

What do you think the chances are that a retired missionary could afford such a place on his pension?