For decades, West 48th Street off Times Square was known as Music Row, a block filled with shops specializing in musical instruments. In the 2000s, we watched the block dwindle, like every other authentic place in this city, until there were two.
Rudy's Music Stop and Alex Music are the last two music shops left on the entire block. And, after years of rumors, soon there will be just one.
Rudy Pensa's original shop, opened in 1978, will be closing in August, employees confirmed.
Over the phone, Rob at the shop told me, "No one buys guitars anymore. This is just one big place for tourists to buy souvenirs."
Rudy's is in a little old building next to another little old building. Every time I see them huddled together, I wonder when they'll be destroyed. The fact that they remain standing feels like a miracle.
I talked to Alex Carozza of Alex Music next door. He will soon be the last of his kind. He told me he has no plans to close. "So far, nobody tells me to get outta here." The rent, however, is "tremendous," and he's not sure how long he'll last.
Alex's building and the empty lot next to it was bought last year for $19 million by Jack Cohen of Comjem Associates, according to The Real Deal. Comjem also acquired the big building on the corner--723 (or 721) 7th Avenue--one of those stalwart old Times Square numbers the color of wet coffee grounds, the kind of building that long held distributors of cowboy movies, film labs, publicists, booking agents, and music studios ("My Boyfriend's Back" and "Hang on Sloopy" were recorded here, and Quad Studios remains).
Comjem also apparently owns Rudy's building, from what I can tell. Alex Carozza expects them to build "something very big," using up all the lots, which total 173,446 square feet.
Back in 2007, Rudy Pensa talked about 48th Street to the Daily News, saying:
"This is a beautiful street, and it should be preserved as it is, a landmark of the city. It has so much history, and it has been like this since the '20s. Somebody should rather pay attention to it before someone comes, buys everything and buries all this beauty to start building glass towers."
Too late. Too late.