Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tea & Sympathy

Opened in Greenwich Village in 1990, Tea & Sympathy is struggling to survive in a hyper-gentrified neighborhood where small businesses have been decimated by high rents and other pressures. (This is the "tea house" that Governor Cuomo politicized unfairly when Cynthia Nixon was running against him.)

Now they've started a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help keep them alive.



Owner Nicky Perry writes on the page:

"We need your help! We have been holding on by the skin of our teeth for years now and with increasing rent prices, rental taxes and overall increases in the cost of doing business our little tea shop is in dire need of your support!

We have stood by and watched all of the local businesses who made the West Village what it is today lose to landlords and buyouts and profit losses. We are trying so hard not to be added to that list.

These funds will be used to help lower our loan repayments, pay our vendors, pay our real estate taxes, assist in our rent which for our three businesses is a whopping $28,000 per month plus real estate taxes which as landlords refinance the building increase yearly."

Give them some love and read more about Nicky and her beloved teashop here.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Amazon State Building

Yesterday, after Amazon, Cuomo, and de Blasio announced their widely despised plan to move HQ2 into Queens with massive tax-payer subsidies--and a private helipad gifted to Jeff Bezos (on our dime)--the Empire State Building jumped onboard, sparkling Amazon orange in celebration of the controversial behemoth's sucking up of $1,705,000,000+ in corporate welfare.



New Yorkers on Twitter, unhappy with Amazon HQ2, were not pleased -- and swiftly ratioed the tweet with fiercely negative responses.

They said "ugh" and "fuck you," "pathetic," and "this sucks and I hate it." They told the building to "read the room" and "Get wrecked by a giant gorilla."







Keith Olbermann weighed in:



And a couple of folks compared the shameful spectacle to the evil Eye of Sauron:



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Just Say No to HQ2

It's official. Amazon has announced they are opening a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State has handed the mega-corporation a sweetheart of a deal--not yet including, as Cuomo suggested, renaming Newtown Creek the Amazon River. Until now, that deal was a protected secret.

Here are the jaw-dropping details--from a PDF from the New York State Urban Development Corporation, d/b/a Empire State Development. (Thanks Robin Grearson for sharing on Twitter via Amazon's announcement):

If I'm reading this right, Amazon gets:
- a 99-year lease on a whole shit-ton of square footage (more than I can calculate)
- base rent of $850,000 per annum ($70,000 per month -- perspective: when Florent was kicked out of the Meatpacking District, its rent went to $50,000 a month. For a small space. Ten years ago.)
- a package of incentives valued at up to $1,705,000,000

Those tax-payer funded incentives include:
- A capital grant in the amount of $505,000,000
- Excelsior tax credits of up to $1,200,000,000

Oh, yeah, and Jeff Bezos gets a private helipad. Paid for by you and me.

Crain's is now calling this "the richest-ever incentive package offered to a corporation in state history."



Who of your elected officials urged Amazon to move to New York? Sethmpk shares on Twitter: "Here are the officials who signed a letter last October urging Amazon to expand in NYC. @TishJames signed. So did my House @RepYvetteClarke and my State Senator Montgomery. Candidates for Public Advocate @JumaaneWilliams, @MrMikeBlake, @ydanis, @MMViverito all signed too":





Anticipating this announcement all week, the backlash has been swift, with journalists explaining how Amazon HQ2 will create more hyper-gentrification (see Seattle), displacing and disrupting residents, small businesses, and artists. And the deal might even be illegal.

Even the Times admitted, "The process means the rich get richer, the biggest companies, bigger. And the gulf widens between the country’s haves and have-nots" and "the tech industry isn’t culturally urban." The Times also noted, "it’s how this city works." But it didn't always work this way.

As I outline in my book, Vanishing New York, until the late 1970s, the city was moving in the direction of social democracy. And then it shifted. City Hall and Albany turned away from the people and began to court big business and real estate developers, handing over billions of dollars in tax-payer money to seduce them into moving to and staying in the city. One could argue that this approach was needed in fiscal crisis New York. It is absolutely not needed now. In fact, it is killing this city.

It's time for another change. It's time for New York to re-orient away from giving corporate welfare to big business and developers, and give back to its people. You can exercise your right as a citizen of this democracy and push this shift.

Tomorrow, show up and say no to Amazon HQ2. Phone blast against HQ2. Protest. Resistance can work.



Phone blast info from the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project:

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer: 718-383-9566 [press "0" for person]
Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 929-388-6141 [leave a message if no one picks up]
Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney: 718-932-1804
State Senate Michael Ginaris: (718) 728-0960

Phone Blast Script:

It was recently announced that Amazon has chosen Long Island City, Queens as a location for its new Headquarters, a move that would lead to skyrocketing rents and record levels of displacement throughout the entire borough. We are outraged that there were no public hearings on this proposal and that none of us have had the opportunity to voice our opinions, despite the fact that every single Queens resident will be impacted by this decision. The situation is so bad that in July, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan called for a ‘Moratorium’ on new LIC developments¹, but her proposal was ignored by most politicians and newspapers. Today, I am calling [politician's name]'s office to demand that [politicians name] stand with Queens residents and reject the Amazon Headquarters proposal, as well as any other move to transform Western Queens into a so-called "tech hub". The Queens that so many of us know and love is under threat and we're going to fight back.





Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Two Boots Seized

Two Boots Pizza on Greenwich Avenue in the Village has been seized "for nonpayment of taxes and is now in the possession of the State of New York."



A note from Two Boots in the window says the closure is only temporary and they will reopen shortly. Let's hope so.



While we're in front of this lovely antique facade, and while we've been diving into the Municipal Archives tax photos from the 1940s...



...here's what Two Boots looked like when it was the Hanscom Bake Shop.



Municipal Archives Online

In some very exciting news, the New York City Municipal Archives has put their 1940s tax photo collection online. That's hundreds of thousands of historical photographs of every (or almost every?) building in New York City. And you no longer have to go down to the Archives to see them (although that makes for a great adventure).

Last night, within an hour of sharing the link on the Vanishing New York Facebook page, the Municipal Archives' Online Gallery crashed. People are clamoring! (It's back up now.) Before that happened, I went down the rabbit hole and got screenshots of a few of my favorite spots.

On 8th Avenue off Times Square, here's the vaudeville house built in 1916 that later became The Playpen and then was demolished in 2007 (to become a hotel with Shake Shack):



Here's Charle's Garden (which I always thought was spelled Charlie's) before it was Fedora on West 4th Street:



And Julius' Bar -- still Julius' Bar (but with a different clientele):



Here's the grocery store delicatessen that preceded Three Lives & Company Bookshop across the street from Julius' Bar:



And the site of CBGB's before it was CBGB's:



And long before it was John Varvatos (today):











Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SBJSA Hearing

Yesterday was the SBJSA hearing before the City Council at City Hall. Thank you to everyone who showed up for the rally and the hearing itself, and thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council for giving this the time and space it deserves.



At noon, a large crowd of about 100 SBJSA supporters gathered on the steps of City Hall for a rally and press conference. David Eisenbach, who is running for Public Advocate, led the rally at which several people spoke on behalf of the bill.

At the same time, supporters of REBNY, the powerful real estate lobby that opposes the bill, streamed in. At the gates they received blue baseball caps printed with a white slogan making the claim that the SBJSA is commercial rent control. (It is not.) The optics on this had an unsettling effect. Later in the day, SBJSA supporter James Klein said during his testimony, "If New Yorkers have learned anything over the last two years, we have learned that when a mob shows up in colored hats, New Yorkers lose."

As DJ Cashmere reported in his thorough account of the day at Bedford & Bowery, "Council member Mark Gjonaj, chair of the Committee on Small Business, asked whether the hats had been purchased from a local small business. Nope, came the reply from REBNY. They were purchased online."



The hearing, hosted by Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Mark Gjonaj, chair of the Council's small business committee, lasted until 9:00 at night, with a tremendous 200 people signed up to speak. For the first two hours, Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop represented Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, which does not support the bill.

Johnson repeatedly spoke passionately about the loss of the city's mom and pops--and he talked about it today on the Brian Lehrer show.

Next came panels both for and against the bill, including speakers Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, David Eisenbach, and Ruth Messinger, the former Councilmember who first introduced the original SBJSA in 1986.

I testified on a panel of pro-SBJSA activists, including Harry Bubbins of GVHSP, Kirsten Theodos of TakeBackNYC, and Justin Levenson, who created Vacant New York to track high-rent blight.



It was a long day -- you can watch the whole 8 hours here -- the first big step in what will be a complicated and important process.

If you support this bill and want to see it come to a vote, write to the City Council. Here is a quick and easy guide to doing that.

And the fight to save small businesses in New York goes on.



For more coverage on the hearing:
AMNY
Commercial Observer
Real Deal
Curbed
Gothamist

Glaser's Interior

Everything we love will become salvage. The Demolition Depot just announced they're selling the interior of Glaser's Bake Shop, closed earlier this year after 116 years on the Upper East Side.


via Instagram

While they were unable to save the antique floor tiles, this could all be yours:

"Elements include the beautiful, turn of the century wood showcases, having ample storage below, marvelous, upward sliding glass doors above and decorative fluted Ionic pilasters. The upper section of open cabinetry has original silvered mirrors, original milk glass upper panels, and marble counter top. Also available are Schoolhouse pendant fixtures, pressed tin ceiling, a vintage refrigerated case, and contemporary display cases."

Black-and-white cookies not included.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Rally & Public Hearing for SBJSA

Today's the day. Right now, we've got one weapon to fight the vanishing of New York and it's the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA). If you've been following this blog, you know we've been fighting for this for years. Today, come to the rally and open public hearing at City Hall and let the City Council know: Enough is enough. Pass the SBJSA.

12:00 Rally & Press Conference
1:00 Public Hearing
New York City Hall


View the Facebook invites here and here.

The SBJSA could have saved: The Lenox Lounge, Florent, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, Big Nick's, Avignone pharmacy, St. Marks Bookshop, Colony Records, Bleecker Bob's, 8th Street Gray's Papaya, Bill's Gay 90s, The Stage Deli, Rocco's Ristorante, and so many more. But there's much left to save.

If you can't be there today, here's what you can do:

1. Write and/or call your local Councilmembers--your messages go into the record--and tell them to pass the SBJSA:
- Fill out this easy-to-use form to email the City Council
- Or find your individual Councilmembers here and contact them directly
- Councilmember Mark Gjonaj is Chair of the Council's Small Business Committee--write or call him, too. You can also contact the members of that committee: Diana Ayala, Stephen T. Levin, Bill Perkins, and Carlina Rivera.
- Find them on Twitter and tweet your request: Pass the #SBJSA

2. Write and/or call the Council Speaker Corey Johnson and tell him to pass the SBJSA:
- Fill out this simple form, already written for you
- Or you can call or write to him directly here
- Tweet him @CoreyinNYC

3. Spread the word:
- Share this blog post on your social media
- Inform your local businesspeople that this hearing is happening and encourage them to show up. Tell your bodega people, your barber, your therapist, your dentist, your bartender, the people who fix your shoes and do your laundry, the folks who serve your lunch and pour your coffee. Tell them all that there is a solution, there is a protection, and we all can make it happen.
- Print out and share this flyer, available in English and Spanish

- If you are not a New Yorker, you can still write and call the City Council and the Speaker. Tell them you don't want to bring your tourist dollars to a city that's full of nothing but chain stores and luxury glass towers. Tell them to pass the SBJSA.




About the SBJSA:
Legally vetted and deemed fully constitutional, the SBJSA gives existing commercial tenants a few basic rights, including: 1. the right to renew the lease, 2. a minimum 10-year extension, and 3. equal rights to negotiate a fair rent, with third-party arbitration if an agreement between tenant and landlord cannot be reached. In that case, the arbitrator may determine a reasonable increase, a decision based on multiple factors, including current fair market rates for similar properties.

-Read more about the SBJSA here and here and here.
-View the 10/22 meeting details and agenda here.

If you've been complaining about the vanishing of New York, now is your chance to change things for the better. At this point, you really have no excuse. If you do nothing, then quit complaining.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Coffee Shop to Chase Bank

A tipster friend tells us that the famous and just-shuttered Coffee Shop on Union Square is rumored to become yet another Chase Bank.



He attended the post-closing auction this week and chatted with insiders there. They told him: 1. The space is going to Chase, 2. The rent was hiked to $3 million annually, and 3. Chase might be keeping the antique neon sign and re-doing the letters so it spells out CHASE instead of COFFEE SHOP.

None of this is confirmed for sure, but if the sign switcheroo happens, it would be yet another example of New York City soul snatching, a.k.a. authentrification. (See also: Village Den, Rocco's, Bill's Gay 90s, and too many more to list.)



Ironically, the original coffee shop here before Coffee Shop was called Chase--possibly Jack Chase in the 1950s. The name is still in the floor of the doorway.

In the 1980s, it was Jason's Restaurant.


photo by Karen Gehres, via Flaming Pablum


Tax photograph

Now it's empty, the pots and pans auctioned off, the lamps and decorations removed.

It's time to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and protect places like Coffee Shop from becoming more banks (and Starbucks, and Targets, and pricey boutiques). Go to the public hearing on Monday, October 22. Speak your mind. If that's not possible, here are more easy, quick ways you can make a difference today. The future of this city depends on you.







Monday, October 15, 2018

The Trouble with "Shop Local"

As we near the October 22 public hearing for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, I want to think critically about the use of the phrase "Shop Local."

First, let me be clear, I am not critiquing the act of shopping locally, which is important and necessary. I am critiquing the use of the injunction "Shop Local" by city leaders, which I believe is sometimes weaponized against the real possibility of systemic change to help save small, local businesses in the city.

It is, quite simply, a way to deflect blame from the system and onto the individual, stopping progressive change in its tracks.



I was struck this summer by the appearance of this deflection at a town hall meeting with Mayor de Blasio and City Council Member Helen Rosenthal on the Upper West Side.

When an audience member asked what can be done to stop New York's mom and pops from vanishing, the mayor said that, while he supports a vacancy tax to stop landlords from leaving storefronts empty, "We don't have...good tools to protect small business in a free-market system... But there's a citizen piece of this, too, and I don't mean to minimize the problem, but people need to go to those stores and patronize those stores."

To this, the audience member responded off mic, possibly saying, "They do," to which the mayor replied, "They do and they don't. My experience is...a lot of people who value those stores could also be part of the solution by going to them more often."

Helen Rosenthal concluded, "Mr. Mayor, I'm with you. We all need to step up and shop local. It's very frustrating."

Again, shopping local is necessary, we all can do it more, but it won't solve the main problem. And when we hear it in response to the question "what can be done?" we are often in the grip of neoliberal ideology. Sometimes, the people saying it don't even know they're part of that ideology. For decades, it has been the air we breathe. We have all become, to some extent, brainwashed by it.

Many of us say to each other, "If only we shopped there more often." On this blog, commenters inevitably accuse, "When was the last time you shopped there?" As if we are the main problem and not the landlords who quadruple the rent or refuse a new lease.



Neoliberalism, in short, is a free-market capitalist ideology and approach to governance that uses the policies of privatization, deregulation, and fiscal austerity, redistributing wealth and other resources from the lower, working, and middle classes to the wealthy.

It's not new and it's not liberal.

It began in the U.S. in the late 1970s, kicked off as a response to New York City's fiscal crisis, and went global under Ronald Reagan (trickle-down economics) and Margaret Thatcher. Whenever you hear "it's the free market," you're hearing the voice of neoliberalism. It is the reason for the 1% and why we have such massive income inequality.

It is also the way New York City has been governed since about 1979. It's why we have gentrification as public policy, with tax breaks and incentives going to big real-estate developers and corporations, private parks, etc., while our public resources suffer. In this system, celebrated by former Mayor Bloomberg, the city is run like a corporation and its citizens are consumers.

This brings us to the "neoliberal individual."



In the neoliberal worldview, there's a philosophical shift from state responsibility to individual responsibility. Now, there's nothing wrong with individuals being responsible for each other and their own actions. But when we're talking on the level of systems of power and governance, it's another thing altogether.

From the point of view of the neoliberal individual, if climate change is causing death and destruction, well, it's your fault for not recycling plastic bags, and don't blame the deregulation of polluting industries (read this). If you're a woman and you're sexually harassed in the workplace, it's your fault for not reporting it, and don't look to the system of patriarchy. And if small businesses are shuttering by the dozens, it's your fault, New Yorker, for not shopping local enough, and don't dare blame the big real estate machine that is supported by our neoliberal state and city government.

In short, the problem lies with you, the individual. If we hear this enough, we might become convinced that the problems of society are all our fault. If only we were better. If only we tried harder.

That idea is toxic enough, but it goes further.



If the problem lies with individuals then there's no point in trying to change the system. The system is blameless! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

This is a clever way to make us feel guilty and hopeless, and thus to render us passive. It makes us squander our power as citizens and give up on democracy. Don't fall for it.

In so many cases, small businesses are not closing because we didn't shop enough. In over a decade of writing this blog, I have walked the streets of this city talking with countless small business people. Over and over, they have told me that the number one force shutting them down is a landlord who demands a high rent increase or who refuses to renew a lease. Thriving, beloved, successful businesses that were staples of their communities for 20, 40, 80 years are pushed out by rents that double, triple, quadruple, and more.

No amount of "shop local" is going to fix that.

We need systemic change from the top. The first step? Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. It's getting a public hearing on October 22. So act like a citizen. Show up and speak your mind. Click here for a list of easy, quick things you can do to tell the City Council you want this bill.




Sunday, October 14, 2018

McNally Jackson Bookstore

As we heard from Bowery Boogie earlier this week, the successful and beloved McNally Jackson bookstore on Prince Street in Soho is being forced to move. Why? The landlord wants “an enormous amount of rent,” Sarah McNally told AMNY.

McNally added that she has "a contract on one space and has also identified another as a backup. She’s not announcing the final destination yet but it will be in Manhattan close to the original store."

This is good news--but for how long?



For over a decade of talking to countless small businesspeople pushed out by landlords who hiked the rent or denied lease renewals, I have found that many fail to relocate. Of those that do, many end up closing soon after. What's missing? Long leases. It was once customary for a small business to get a ten-year lease. Today, you're lucky if you get two years. And then it can happen all over again.

In addition, the bookstore-killing Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar location in Soho--right around the corner from McNally Jackson, at 72 Spring St., just one block away. That's probably not a coincidence. McNally Jackson is successful and big retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot are known to open close to successful smaller competitors to suck their customers away.

So while we're breathing a sigh of relief to hear that McNally's not going far right now, we still need to take action to protect it--and other small businesses--in the future. That's why we need to convince the City Council to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. It would guarantee a 10-year lease and a fair rent increase to McNally Jackson and countless others.

There's a public hearing on October 22. Go and speak your mind. If that's not possible, here are more easy, quick ways you can make a difference today. The future of this city depends on you.

P.S. The building that houses McNally Jackson used to have a grocery store, Little Italy’s only supermarket and a neighborhood staple for 25 years. It was forced to close in 2016 -- the Voice reported that rent was $90,000 and the landlord was likely looking for $150,000 to open “a more upscale operation.” That space is still sitting empty, another example of high-rent blight.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Pass the SBJSA

The Cafe Edison could have been saved. CBGBs could have been saved. Lincoln Plaza Cinemas could have been saved. Your favorite restaurant, bar, and bookshop is next--if you don't do something right now.

At long last, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is getting a hearing. This is the moment we've all been waiting for. It's time to stop complaining and do something.


photo by EJ Berry


What you can do:

1. Write and/or call your local Councilmembers--your messages go into the record--and tell them to pass the SBJSA:
- Fill out this easy-to-use form to email the City Council
- Or find your individual Councilmembers here and contact them directly
- Councilmember Mark Gjonaj is Chair of the Council's Small Business Committee--write or call him, too. You can also contact the members of that committee: Diana Ayala, Stephen T. Levin, Bill Perkins, and Carlina Rivera.
- Find them on Twitter and tweet your request: Pass the #SBJSA

2. Write and/or call the Council Speaker Corey Johnson and tell him to pass the SBJSA:
- Fill out this simple form, already written for you
- Or you can call or write to him directly here
- Tweet him @CoreyinNYC

3. Spread the word:- Share this blog post on your social media--and not just once, share it multiple times, and every time a beloved business is forced out by rent hike or non-renewal of lease.
- Inform your local businesspeople. Tell your bodega people, your barber, your therapist, your dentist, your bartender, the people who fix your shoes and do your laundry, the folks who serve your lunch and pour your coffee. Tell them all that there is a solution, there is a protection, and we all can make it happen.
- Print out and share this flyer, available in English and Spanish

- If you are not a New Yorker, you can still write and call the City Council and the Speaker. Tell them you don't want to bring your tourist dollars to a city that's full of nothing but chain stores and luxury glass towers. Tell them to pass the SBJSA.

UPDATE: The hearing happened on October 22. For more information, read here.



About the SBJSA:
Legally vetted and deemed fully constitutional, the SBJSA gives existing commercial tenants a few basic rights, including: 1. the right to renew the lease, 2. a minimum 10-year extension, and 3. equal rights to negotiate a fair rent, with third-party arbitration if an agreement between tenant and landlord cannot be reached. In that case, the arbitrator may determine a reasonable increase, a decision based on multiple factors, including current fair market rates for similar properties.

-Read more about the SBJSA here and here and here.

If you've been complaining about the vanishing of New York, now is your chance to change things for the better. At this point, you really have no excuse. If you do nothing, then quit complaining.



Speaker Corey Johson Pledging Support for Small Businesses (WNYC Brian Lehrer) from Wheelhouse Communications on Vimeo.



New York From Behind

If you enjoy New York street photography and the unique character of this city, there's an Instagram page you should check out. New York from Behind is the creation of Bryn and Justin. I asked them a few questions about their project.

What is New York From Behind?

New York from Behind is a concept we created just by being citizens of this city. New Yorkers have a lot to offer visually and so often the most interesting thing is the person right in front of you. Usually the front of someone’s outfit is what’s most interesting. We notice every day that the reverse is not true. Since so much of fashion is forward focused, it sometimes proves hard for us to find interesting content. So the fun for us is to catch people who do something different and make their canvas their backs as well as their fronts.


all photos via New York from Behind

How'd you get started?

We’re two good friends who first got started by taking pictures around the city and sharing them with our friends and each other. Eventually, we started the page as a place to more easily share photos of people who were doing fashionable, interesting, and funny things on their backs. People started following the page. As a born East Villager and a young curmudgeon, we have a sense of NYC history and it’s fun to find the colorful people of the past, who are increasingly hard to find in generic New York.



Do you go out hunting for behinds, or just snap them as they come?

Usually our daily commute offers enough content, especially if you hit 14th street, Soho, Union Square, Washington Square, the West/East Village, and Chelsea. There are always events around the city and holidays that we can count on for good “behinds.”





What trends have you noticed?

When we started in 2016, few people had messages on their backs and most of the ones who did seemed handmade. Now so many retailers are selling clothes with words written across the back and it’s spread from high fashion, where it started, to mass retail.

The other trend we’ve noticed is that patterns on clothing were always forward focused. You’d see the person approaching and while their front is highly embellished, the back is solid. Lately we’ve seen more of designs continuing on to the back as well.



A lot of the behinds seem to be messages. Thinking over all the behinds you've captured, what are people trying to say?

From “never settle for less than your best” to “live fast eat ass” a lot of them are messages to onlookers — words of advice, lessons learned the hard way, or generalized warnings of toughness. And those are just the ones with words that makes sense.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Taking of Bleecker: 1, 2, 3

The western end of Bleecker Street has gone through three major upheavals since the 2000s began.

1. Skyrocketing rents and non-renewal of leases on mom-and-pop shops created the luxury chain takeover, starting in 2001 with Marc Jacobs. Those blocks went from quaint and local to high-end suburban mall in just five years.

2. It took another five to die, as those big chains departed, emptying the storefronts and leaving the street in a state of high-rent blight.

3. Recently we heard that mega-developer Brookfield Properties would take over, spending approximately $31.5 million for several retail condos to convert them into a concept, a curated consumer experience, “with Brookfield orchestrating…rather than allowing each individual shop to pursue its own agenda,” reported New York magazine. “Let’s look at this as if it’s a mall,” said Brookfield’s head of retail leasing, “even though it’s not.”

Now we know what that looks like.



WWD reports on the program to curate the street. It's called "Love, Bleecker" and it has a creative director, fashion designer Prabal Gurung. There will be a leather "concept store" called Slightly Alabama, a florist/plant-based food shop, and a gallery space with prisms, among other "disruptive" and "innovative" and "creative" businesses.

Writes WWD, "Brookfield considers Bleecker to be a new kind of retail activation and platform for growing online digital native brands that may eventually populate its other properties." (And here I thought it was a neighborhood.) "We'll incubate them here and see them thrive and grow," says Sara Fay, VP of Marketing at Brookfield.

Brookfield, according to WWD, "plumbed Bleecker Street's history as a magnet for jazz and folk music and stomping ground for Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac."

Incubation, artwashing, and the co-opting of the neighborhood's counter-cultural history? Sounds like more invasion of the body snatchers.

The project kicked off yesterday. Do not miss the website.