Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Avignone Chemist

VANISHING

Reader Phoebe wrote in earlier this week, "Avignone Chemist on Bleecker closing. The landlord tripled the rent." A letter in this week's Villager confirms the news.


photo via Walter Grutchfield

In the letter to the editor, Sheila Sperber Haas writes:

"I learned from Avignone’s owner, Abe Lerner, that this historic shop will be closing on April 30. Why? The building has been sold, the store’s lease is up for renewal, and Avignone’s new landlord is tripling the rent. Abe had indicated his willingness to negotiate a new lease with a higher rent, but one that’s three times what he is now paying is out of the question.

Avignone — one of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s 2013 Village Award winners because of their integrity, history and supportive involvement in the neighborhood — has been at 226 Bleecker St., just west of Sixth Ave., since 1929. Francis Avignone moved it there from 59 MacDougal, where it had opened as the Stock Pharmacy in 1832. (Francis Avignone had bought and renamed it in 1898.)

...It is shameful that there is still no law protecting such businesses and preventing the further destruction of the character of our neighborhoods, and the fabric that keeps our communities vital."


photo via Walter Grutchfield

Wikipedia says it's "the oldest apothecary in the United States," at 183 years old.

But, as Ms. Haas attests, there is no law protecting our small, historic businesses. They can be evicted at whim by their landlords' spiking of the rent.

*UPDATE: DNA followed up on this story and named the new landlord: Force Capital Management, a hedge fund that manages $1.2 billion, led by Robert Jaffe. According to DNA, they're planning to charge the next tenant in this space about $60,000 per month.


NYPL, Percy Loomis Sperr

When the shop goes, what will happen to the building? We might also lose the great ghost signs along the side of the building in the little park called Winston Churchill Square. Still fading next to Hygrade's All Beef, there's been an Avignone sign here for a very long time.


via NYPL

Click here to hear Calvin Trillin celebrate Avignone, the drugstore where he shops, and see co-owners Abe Lerner and Andrew Fruchtman accept their Village Award in 2013.

19 comments:

jjdaddyo said...

Sad that they did not buy their own building at some point in the last 86 years.

Anonymous said...

God...I hate this city these days....it's completely spiraled out of control at this point. No thought at all for the future. It's a bunch of Reagan's running the show now....
So long NYC. You were the best there was for 100's of years.....but even you cant fight $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Anonymous said...

Living in New York City used to matter. It doesn't matter anymore, it really doesn't. At this point noting all that is being destroyed is to just watch the last gasps. The city will not be returning to it's former glorious self. At one time dealing with the day to day hassles of living in this town was worth it. Not anymore. It's BORING here! Time to turn the page. If a one-dimensional upscale playground is what they want then let them have it. I'm outta here.

Anonymous said...

Even if they had bought the building, it's not unlikely that they would be selling it now to "capitalize on the greatest market in years."

At a time when the country is in a depression.

Capitalism is broken. And it's dragging NYC down the tubes.

Anonymous said...

Jackie O used to shop there; wonder what she'd say?

BTW, your robot test has issues!

Rachel said...

Is it possible to shame the landlords?

Anonymous said...

Bleecker between 6th and 7th is very different than 20 to 15 years ago when I lived there. There were some lower and middle income residents, institutions and retail. It was somewhat funky. Now it is just extremely expensive.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame capitalism. Blame the Fed and cheap interest rates for inflating another bubble.

laura r. said...

too sad to listen to calvin. jackie o was into preservation. she may have done something. that why we need wealthy connected & cultured people in NY. people who care for more than just $. like brooke astor. hard to beleieve i missed this place?? i was downtown all the time since 1963. i even lived on downing for a while.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on Bleecker Street two blocks away from this pharmacy in the 1960s. It was so overpriced that my family never shopped there.

Richard Federico said...

Location location location! Bubble, bubble, bubble!

Anonymous said...

Capitalism ? No, what we have isn't "capitalism" but rather "crony capitalism". There is a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Fed is feeding the banks and Wallstreet first and we are left with a few crumbs to fight over.

JAZ said...

"When the shop goes, what will happen to the building?"

I'll give you a hint; it rhymes with Bark Sacobs.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, I agree completely that the city is being homogenized...all you need is a Duane Reed, a Chipotle, a Star Bucks and a couple of take out places and you have a new neighborhood. I don't blame the landlords as much as the politicians who let this stuff happen without any care for the middle class. In years past you could have moved to NYC from anywhere and found a place to live that might not have been glamorous, but it was safe. No one is coming here to pursue a dream anymore unless they are living in the outer boros...Manhattan is now just a rich man's playground. It's time to hold our representatives feet to the fire and get more middle income housing in Manhattan. Put programs out there that offer some tax advantages for landlords and pass on savings to working class people.

Anonymous said...

Nice set of photos you have presented to illustrate the story.

laura r. said...

so some folks here are talking "reagan"? seriously? you have a far left president & far left mayor. i dont mean to be rude, but all i can say is SUCKERS!!! told you so! your politicians are just shills for the corps. we dont know the story connected to this business, so who can pass judgement?

Anonymous said...

comment #2: yes i see the rent was tripled by the new landlord. Unfortunatly when there is a new owner they can do what they want. it is legal. i also think the same owner also can do what they want when the lease is up. the key is to get a long lease w/a rent cap for when & if its renewed. some business take out a 10-15 year leases or longer. its all in the contract. sometimes during that time the water & heat bills go up so there is a minor adjustment. seems this pharm business played their cards right. its been what? 130 years? who knows they may have owned this building all along.

laura r. said...

jeremiah i just wrote another comment but didnt put in my name or anon will it be published?