Home Empire State of Mind Greenwich Village in the Bloomberg Era: “For Rent” Signs, and No More...

What’s Greenwich Village like in the era of Mike Bloomberg? Vacant.

After at least 35 years, probably more, Bagel Buffet on Sixth Avenue and 8th St. has closed. It’s empty, and so is the store next to it.

Two blocks north, the Ansonia Pharmacy was forced by another greedy landlord to move further up the block. Now the corner of Sixth Avenue and 10th St. is vacant, has been for months.

So is the corner of 12th Street and Sixth Avenue, where Joe Jr’s vacated on July 4, 2009. Empty, empty, empty.

All over Greenwich Village, there are empty stores. I’ve lived here for more than thirty years. This is the first time such things have happened.

Greedy landlords (you can’t say it enough) have squeezed out whatever they can of the area’s personality. Over in the West Village, fashion designer Marc Jacobs has booted out a bunch of businesses so he can fill a bunch of spaces with his homogenized, suburban mall goods. Yippee!

This is the New York of Mike Bloomberg. Oh yes, no one can get to those fabulous Marc Jacobs stores this week because there is snow piled up everywhere. The blizzard was five days ago.

Bagel Buffet’s demise stings a little bit more than usual. It was one of those great places, open 24 hours a day, everything was fresh. Kids and building supers slept there sitting up. Strangers chatted. Coffee cost a buck and was sold in regular cups.

The legacy of Mike Bloomberg’s mayoralty besides no snow clean up, no parking spaces, a suburbanized Times Square and concrete turning lanes: how much real New York he allowed to be supplanted by anonymous stuff. Of course this was a mayor who was born and bred in the Boston suburbs and spends his weekends in Bermuda, not walking around his city. I was taken aback the other day at 57th and Third, realizing that what had once been a block of unusual stores is now a block long Duane Reade drug store. Disgusting!

PS Thanks, also, to the mayor: for not doing a thing to stop the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital. Greenwich Village and the West Village have no hospital or ER, just a huge, hulking set of vacated buildings right in the middle of our neighborhood. Maybe before Bloomberg is gone he can license the space to Wal Mart.

14 replies to this post
  1. A friend told me last night that he spoke to a workman there (BB) …and they are renovating, not closing. btw, in talking about places we lost: I sure can recall when Emilio’s on 6th Ave. closed. Became a drug store, of course. The quintisential family-style Italian restaurant with a large garden in back. I would say that was the first sign for me that things were changing. And then O’Henry’s.

  2. So interesting– if you want to see who has ALL the money these days, just look at the storefronts in Urban/expensive real-estate areas: pharma, banks, character/brand Licenses (Disney, M&M’s, SpongeBob, video game stores) junk food, and sports franchises.

    Guess that’s about all that’s left of society and culture…

    Where to go from here?

  3. I can’t believe we lost Bagel Buffet. That might have been my favorite place in the city. I always just stopped in alone, usually got tacos. A hidden gem of mexican food in the city. It was just so real and so decent. And the people that worked there were nice. I hope they all have new jobs. Damn it.

  4. Roger, right on. This has been a demoralizing time for Greenwich Village one of the destination spots in New York City that everyone gravitates to because of the ash can artists, musicians, writers, and
    secret hiding spots that only you think you know about; until they vanish. The affordable family restaurants are dying. Joe Jr.’s closing over a year ago on July 4th weekend and now the Bagel Buffet were both 37 yr. staples in the community. St. Vincent’s Hospital closing is unconscionable. It is still not TOO LATE for the Mayor to stick his name up on an emergency Hospital and do the right thing here!!! It would be an everlasting redeeming position to take giving back a landmark 160 yr old hospital state of art memorial emergency full service business, honoring St. Vincent’s in his name.

  5. New York is over. It sold its soul to the real estate industry. I moved to Greenwich Village in 1971. It’s all different now..all over the city. Few of the interesting small stores remain: Art supply stores, bookstores, family Italian restaurants, the flower district. And it ain’t coming back. Once you build housing on farm land, it never goes back to being a farm. Same thing here. I would never encourage a young person to move here. Has to be more interesting cities to move to. Bloomberg’s inaction on St. Vincent’s is one of the more eggregious things to happen in all these years. Shame on him.

  6. Here on the Upper West Side we have a bank on every corner. Guess it’s so the yuppies and Wall Streeters that have taken over the neighborhood can have easy access to their money. Manhattan has become the millionaire/billionaire pied a terre capitol of the world, and I think Bloomberg is hellbent on turning it into the Monte Carlo of the USA.

    Roger, thanks for a job well done, and happy new year!

  7. Roger, Duane Reade is doing a land grab in Manhattan for as much real estate leases locked up as they can get in “prime” locations. Not because they really need so many of them, but when the economy turns around in 3-4 years they will re-rent them out to other companies for a profit.

    Kind of reminds me of Vornado Real Estate Trust buying up Virgin Record stores in order to get their hands on the master real estate leases they owned. why? to shut the company down and re-rent those spaces they had killed priced deals on to make a big profit.

    Reminds me of in Beverly Hills one landlord had the opportunity to re-rent or extend a lease for a Ritz Camera location (on Canon Dr), they wanted 3x the rent for the lease. Ritz couldn’t do that so they closed the location which was doing well… over a year later that location is still empty un-rented.

    http://j.mp/h4bEbG

  8. Absolutely RIGHT ON THE MONEY, Roger!!!!! Not much better up here in Chelsea. The closing of St. Vincents still upsets me the most. NOTHING was done by our Mayor to help keep this hospital open. I had many friends that worked there who are now out of work – I think they got one week’s severence.
    But back in my ‘hood, I have now more choices of huge pharmacies and banks that I ever wanted or needed. If, God forbid, I should need an ambulance, they would have to take me to 59th Steeet (to St Luke’s Roosevelt) or to Beth Israel – no thanks! Maybe I should have them drop me off in front of Mr. Bloomberg’s residence! I’m sure he may have a doctor squirreled up there in his townhouse, along with all the bagels and coffee he wants 24/7.

  9. Deaer Roger,
    I lived on MacDougal Street many years ago, we used to frequent the Minetta Tavern, I hope it is still there…a lifetime ago.
    Roger, I wish you every good wish for the New Year, keep those names coming-the real artists and celebraties. MMH

  10. Roger, this is so touching. At times, I feel that Chicago is going that route. They’re bringing inside the city 3 Walmarts!!! One down the street from me. There are all these little ethnic owned and mom&pop shops that will go down the drain if Walmarts moves into the neighborhood. I love going to these shops. I love supporting the small business people. How many more years does Bloomie have? Maybe someone will start a recall petition….you think?

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