To the Editor:
Commercial rent control is an idea that has been talked about for years, so I am glad that mayoral candidate Tony Avella has made it part of his platform (“The Mayor’s Race: Focus on Economic Development,” Aug. 6).
In the last 30 years, I have seen the Upper West Side change drastically. Many small businesses have closed because they were not able to afford the increase their landlord imposed—exorbitant amounts that only big-box stores or banks could afford. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Upper West Side was filled with actors, artists, musicians and educators. Most of them have moved away and the neighborhood has lost that special neighborhood charm forever.
My “favorite” story is what has happened to Columbus and Amsterdam avenues from West 97th to 100th streets. The area was primarily Park West Village, a middle-class enclave of moderate height apartment buildings and green space. Greedy developers squeezed an additional five residential high rises into this area, buildings that have no aesthetic relationship to the lower red brick ones. The high-priced commercial space will house big-box stores like Whole Foods, Borders and banks. The stores that used to service this neighborhood—a coffee shop, Indian restaurant, a low priced “everything” store, a supermarket, carpet store, hardware store and bakery—are gone, for greed. It won’t be pretty when these five high-rise buildings crowd the existing subway and bus system with the occupants of more than 700 apartments.
Central Park West
Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.
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