Back in 2012, the great and wonderful Prime Burger was forced to close after 47 years in business (74 if you count its days as Hamburg Heaven). At the time, co-owner Michael DiMiceli explained to Eater, "The building's been sold. We had an agreement with the new owners to stay here longer, but those agreements fell through. They decided that they don't want us here as tenants anymore."
Over two years later, the space at 5 E. 51st Street is still empty.
We see this all the time. A landlord pushes out a long-time tenant, and then leaves the space empty, creating blight while they wait for the right luxury chain to pay the exorbitant rent.
In this case, that monthly rent is $52,083...and thirty-three cents.
Against my better judgment, I peeked inside. All that gorgeous 1960s-era decor, the wood-panelled walls, the booths with the swinging tables, the conical chandeliers, that delightful time capsule--completely gutted. For nearly three years it's just sitting there, busted and rotten, not making burgers, not making egg creams, not making New Yorkers happy.
And how does the new owner imagine the future for this space? Same way they all do, a bland vision of nothingness, zombie consumers walking past, arms loaded with oversized handbags and shopping bags. Another pathetic rendering of what New York has become.
In London, as an incentive to keep shops in use, tax relief was taken away from businesses that keep properties empty for longer than 6 months. What are we doing here?
Prime Burger to Reopen?
PB Egg Cream