To The Editor:
Rafe Evans is to be commended for being the only commercial real estate broker on the Upper West Side unafraid to speak the truth (“Vacancy on Columbus Avenue,” May 9). With regard to why some storefronts remain empty for so long, he says of landlords, “It’s a matter of weird personalities very often…How some of these people get to control millions of dollars of assets is beyond me.” In a similar article in West Side Spirit in 2009, he called landlords who refuse to rent storefronts “unrealistic…irrational…illogical.” That said, Mr. Evans may be putting a bit of gloss on the current situation.
Despite the valiant and tireless efforts of Barbara Adler, Executive Director of the Columbus Avenue BID, there are currently nine empty storefronts on that strip (67th to 82nd Streets). And although three or four are allegedly spoken for, that would still leave about half a dozen. However, with eight vacancies on the same strip in 2011, the BID is doing better overall.
Along the “Gold Coast” of Broadway (72nd to 86th Streets), not counting two storefronts that will be re-opening soon with new tenants (Juice Generation, Amour de Hair), and two stores that are moving (Aldo Shoes, Town Shop), there are currently 11 empty storefronts. And although approximately one-third of those have alleged new tenants going in (Chipotle and Radio Shack among them), that would still leave seven or eight storefronts empty. Still, this is also favorable compared with the almost unbelievable 18 empty storefronts in 2011.
Remarkably, it is Amsterdam Avenue that has seen a strangely unheralded resurgence. In 2011, there were 20 empty storefronts on those 14 blocks. Today, there are eight (with two allegedly spoken for). And fully half of those are on a single block (75th-76th).
Although the overall economic situation continues to contributes to the situation, Mr. Evans remains something of a Cassandra when it comes to the truth: landlords have become so blindly rapacious and irrational that they would rather have an empty storefront than continue deriving even a somewhat-less-than-desired monthly rent from a current merchant willing to remain.
Upper West Side
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