Two years ago, Icon Realty purchased 57 Second Avenue for $30 million.
The two retail tenants, Alex Shoe Repair and Allied Hardware, were on month-to-month leases and soon removed via steep rent hikes -- $26,000 per month for the hardware shop and $14,000 for the cobbler.
Both businesses were mom-and-pop run for decades. They provided necessary services to local residents, and their storefronts provided visual interest to the avenue.
I liked walking past to see the giant hammer in Allied's window under their colorful sign. I especially liked the odd paintings that framed Alex Shoe Repair, and the typed poem in the window that Hettie Jones wrote for the cobbler.
These places were useful, local, and idiosyncratic.
Then they were gone.
The signs came down. The funny little paintings were painted over. And Icon's advertisements went up. The two storefronts sat that way for awhile, the picture of high-rent blight.
Now, Icon is dressing them up--and they're getting that look. You know the look. The "nice" look.
It's the look of sameness. The look of nothing. The look of the zombie city.
We see these same facades everywhere. Soon will come little chains--little taco chains or "juicery" chains--decked out in Edison bulbs and subway tiles. Or maybe a Starbucks. Maybe a place that feeds you charcoal shots so you shit black, because shitting black is now good for you. Or maybe an Aesop with their "fragrant botanicals and skin-softening emollients," or else that other place, the one that looks like Aesop and sells candles for $450.
Better yet, how about a bone brotherie? How about some more macarons?
Whatever comes, it won't last long. It won't last decades. It will come and it will go, and the neighborhood will feel that much less like a neighborhood. Again.