LATEST NEWS

Bleak Days Regarding Bleecker Street Retail Is A Sign Of The Times

The rise and fall of one of New York’s most iconic streets is a cautionary tale for retailers and landlords.

By Jeff Vasishta June 5, 2017
By WestportWiki (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

The lesson to be learned by The New York Times’ fascinating article about the boom and bust of Bleecker Street is to be careful what you wish for. When Magnolia Bakery was featured on “Sex In The City” in 2000, the ensuing publicity and hordes convinced one high-end corporate chain after another that Bleecker was the place to be. It started with Robert Duffy, then president of Marc Jacobs, to open a store nearby. He eventually opened six in the neighborhood. Rents skyrocketed from landlords demanding $45,000 a month from tenants who had previously paid $7,000. It all turned out to be a massive retail case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

When the old indie stores left, exclusive chains replaced them, seizing a branding opportunity to be cool and in the mix, arriving with fashion editors and celebrities in tow. However, like a diet of champagne and canapés, the dizzying hype of fashion outposts of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and Mulberry, soon faded to leave businesses feeling empty and a little sick. The foot traffic never materialized. Things started to look mighty bleak on Bleecker Street. The fabulous set left and vacancies rose.

Related DUMBO’s Iconic Watchtower Building Gets A Slick Makeover As A Huge Office And Retail Campus

It’s a cautionary tale for neighborhoods earmarked as being the “next big thing”. The hype needs to be supported by a financial bedrock. Bleecker St, on paper, at least seemed to have a lot going for it. It was in Manhattan and in the Village after all. There was plenty of reason to believe that the transformation which had occurred earlier on Prince Street and West Broadway, with tenants like Apple taking up occupancy could also happen on Bleecker St. However, that may have also been park of the problem.

There was too much competition nearby and when rents increased by 500 percent it was way too dramatic for the neighborhood to keep pace. Tourists alone couldn’t sustain a neighborhood. Many New Yorkers associated Bleecker St with funky stores like Rebel Rebel Records and Condomania and weren’t buying the new incarnation. In fact, some may have been turned off by it. Tourists were more content to snap Instagram pics on Sex & The City tours than fork out exorbitant prices for designer threads. They had nearby Canal St. for the knock off versions.

Related New Renderings Show The Awesomeness Of The Domino Sugar Factory Mega-Project On Kent Avenue in Williamsburg

Bleecker St.’s problem though, is the same thing that is hurting New York retail in general. Sky high rent increases are just not practical in age of Amazon.

“A small number of players will do well,” Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business and founder of digital market research firm L2, told Crain’s New York of the retail squeeze in NYC: “Luxury brands will hold their own—you still can’t buy Hermès on Amazon. There will be some artisanal guys that will manage to hang on because they’re so exceptional. You’ll see Starbucks, Chipotle, more Warby Parker stores. And everyone else will get crushed.”

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

  • AGORAFY
    Do you know how the so-called “affordable” real estate in New York is getting less affordable by the day whereas the city’s luxury market is softening? #luxury #condo https://goo.gl/Avx5AS
  • AGORAFY
    One of the most iconic buildings in Boston has officially been sold and hopefully, the iconic station will be upgraded. #Boston #SouthStation https://goo.gl/rzWxXS
  • AGORAFY
    This week, three of the apartments in the starchitect-designed West Chelsea condo have hit the rental market. #zahahadid #chelsea https://goo.gl/7Z7LBF
The Most Walkable City In The United States Is NYC
It’s no surprise that New York City is the most walkable city in the United States. Everything in the Big Apple makes it the ideal…
10 Booming Cities In The United States Where Homes Are Still Affordable
In most of the United States, buying a house is getting more and more pricey.  The main factor behind this scenario can be explained or…
New Rentals At Zaha Hadid’s West Chelsea Condo Hit The Market
Living NYC’s newly developed condo buildings is a privilege reserved strictly for the well-heeled. This is especially true when the condo tower in question has…
Can We Go Higher? NYC’s Costliest Condos Are Getting Even More Expensive
Do you know how the so-called “affordable” real estate in New York is getting less affordable by the day whereas the city’s luxury market is…
The Iconic Plaza Hotel In New York City Is Looking For Buyers
One of New York City’s most iconic properties could be having new owners very soon. The Indian business conglomerate, Sahara Group, has hired a broker…
A New 20,000-Square-Foot Megamansion Might Be Coming To Manhattan’s Greenwich Village
For the filthy rich living in the heart of Manhattan, condos in glassy towers seem to be the most common option these days. Lavish pads…
New Retail Strip Is Coming To Astoria Area With A Troubled Past
It seems like a bad coincidence, but the Dutch Kill neighborhood, located in otherwise prosperous Astoria, did manage to live up to its, ahem, colorful…
UN New York Hotel To Rebrand As Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza
The United Nations Plaza complex is an iconic landmark in Manhattan. It is a key property located across from the United Nations Headquarters that is…