Friday, May 17, 2024

Greenwich Village in the Bloomberg Era: “For Rent” Signs, and No More Bagel Buffet


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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