Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Hundreds of Local Storefronts Remain Rented to Corporate Brands
A new report from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a public policy think tank that uses data-driven research to bring attention to overlooked issues, documents that the proliferation of chain stores in Lower Manhattan has decreased slightly during the past 12 months, but at a slower rate than for the City as a whole.
The CUF report, “State of the Chains, 2019,” defines chain stores (or “national retailers”) as businesses that have, “at least two locations in New York City and at least one location outside the City limits.” The analysis showed that the number of chain stores in New York City declined by 3.7 percent during the course of 2019, the largest such decrease in the 12 years that CUF has been tracking the sector.
In Lower Manhattan, CUF noted that the overall number of chain stores declined by four locations, from 219 stores in 2018 to 215 outlets in 2019. This marks a decrease of 1.8 percent, meaning that the tally of chain retail Downtown shrank at slightly less than half the pace for the sector in the City as a whole.
The shuttering of local chain stores (such as the Saks Fifth Avenue outpost in Brookfield Place, which closed at the end of 2018) is widely attributed, in part, to the ongoing struggle of brick-and-mortar stores to compete with online retailers, such as Amazon. But it also occurs against the broader backdrop of vast swaths of Downtown commercial space languishing.
In October, a separate report, from City Comptroller Scott Stringer, found that in a single Lower Manhattan zip code — 10013, which covers parts of western Tribeca SoHo, and the Canal Street corridor in Chinatown — there are 319 empty retail spaces, comprising almost 300,000 square feet of unused property. These vacancies amount to more than 12 percent of the total number of retail spaces within the district, and almost ten percent of all retail square footage (which totals slightly more than 4.8 million squares feet). These metrics contrast sharply with the City-wide average of 5.8 percent vacancy for storefronts.
Mr. Stringer’s report also documented that all rents collected on occupied retail spaces within this catchment total around $180 million per year, while average retail rents hover around $60 per square foot per year. This latter metric barely budged in the years 2007 to 2017 (the chronological range covered by the Comptroller’s report), apart from dipping briefly to around $50 per square foot during the 2008 financial crisis, and spiking (equally briefly) to nearly $70 per square foot during the 2009 rebound from the recession.
The overall amount of retail space in this area jumped by more than ten percent (from 4.5 million square feet to nearly 5 million square feet) in the years between 2007 and 2013, in what was likely a reflection of Lower Manhattan’s turbocharged pace of development. This total has receded slightly in the years since (to approximately 4.85 million square feet in 2017), as the same wave of development has demolished some smaller buildings that were primarily devoted to retail, and erected in their stead much larger structures in which residential or office space above requires large, street-level entrances that partially eclipse former storefronts.
But while rents have held steady and the amount of retail space has grown or shrunk incrementally, property taxes on storefronts in zip code 10013 have skyrocketed in the years between 2007 and 2017, according to Mr. Stringer’s report. At the start of this period, such taxes averaged approximately $6 per square foot, then dipped briefly to below $5 during the 2008 financial crisis. Tax rates recovered in 2009, and then began a steady climb to $10 per square foot in 2011. These increases slowed momentarily in 2012 and 2014, but the overall upward trend continued through 2017, by which time the average square foot of retail space in the district was being taxed at $14 per year. This means that the tax liability for owning storefront space in Tribeca, Soho, and Canal Street has nearly tripped during a period when rents have registered no meaningful increase at all.
All of these changes have occurred against a backdrop of prosperity and growth. During the same years examined in this report, the five boroughs of New York City attracted 350,000 new residents and 660,000 new jobs.
Multiple factors have likely converged to render vast swaths of Lower Manhattan retail space unused. One factor is likely the increased inventory of space, caused by rapid development. Another probable cause is gentrification, which has forced out legacy small businesses as landlords seek to lure more fashionable tenants with deeper pockets, which usually means large, corporately owned chain stores or banks.
“New Yorkers have all seen the signs of our changing economy in the last decade, as vacant storefronts have become all too common and neighborhood institutions have fallen by the wayside,” Mr. Stringer reflected. “Even as our economy has grown, many mom-and-pop stores have been left behind, transforming spaces once owned by local small businesses into barren storefronts. This isnʼt just about empty buildings and neighborhood blight, itʼs about the affordability crisis in our City. We need to use every tool in the box to tackle affordability, support small businesses and ensure New Yorkers are equipped to succeed in the new economic reality.”
In related developments, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has advocated for a vacancy tax that would give landlords an incentive to fill vacant storefronts, while the real estate industry has argued for broad rollbacks in property and rent taxes, which they argue would provide a more compelling motivation to fill empty retail spaces.
As community leaders decry the market pressures that force highly regarded small businesses to close down, some activists look for inspiration to San Francisco, where the municipal government has banned new chain stores — in this case, defined as those having 12 or more locations anywhere in the world — from opening in three fashionable districts (North Beach, Chinatown and Hayes Valley). These prohibitions were enacted in 2004, when locals grew alarmed at the influx of corporate brands into the retail zones of gentrifying neighborhoods that had formerly been dominated by mom-and-pop operators.
Hometown Pundit Tonight
As part of its ongoing Tuesday Talks series, the Battery Park City Authority will present tonight Tuesday, January 14, starting at 7:00 pm local resident Paul Rieckhoff, host of the Angry Americans podcast, who will preside over an informal conversation addressing local issues that overlap with the national spotlight during the upcoming Democratic presidential debates and 2020 Presidential election. This event will be held at Six River Terrace (next door to Le Pain Quotidien and across from the Irish Hunger Memorial). Admission is free.
Hear and Be Heard
The Battery Park City Authority will host a pair of public meetings about resiliency and sustainability on Wednesday (January 15) and Thursday (January 16).
The Wednesday session will focus on the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project, and will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place, near First Place), starting at 6:00 pm. This event will include a presentation on the planned flood barrier that will street from Bowling Green to Wagner Park, and also feature an update on the overall Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project.
The Thursday session will focus on the Battery Park City Sustainability Plan, which is now being formulated, and will be held at Six River Terrace (next door to Le Pain Quitidien and across from the Irish Hunger Memorial), also starting at 6:00 pm. This event will include a collaborative roundtable aimed at documenting residents’ ideas, and priorities, for inclusion in the overall Sustainability Plan that will be released on Earth Day of this year. (This session will be reprised on Wednesday, January 22.) Admission is free.
Zumba Jumpstart at 6 River Terrace
Battery Park City Authority
Join a fitness dance party with upbeat Latin music of salsa, merengue, hip-hop, and more! Enthusiastic instruction creates a fun community of dancers who learn new steps each week. Bring your friends and share in this fit and fun dancing community. 6 River Terrace.
Brooklyn: The Once and Future City
Tuesday Talks: Conversation with Paul Rieckhoff
Battery Park City Authority
Paul Rieckhoff, host of the Angry Americans podcast, is a BPC resident, veteran of the Iraq War, writer, activist and an advocate for veteran’s rights. Rieckhoff will host an informal and engaging conversation addressing local issues which may end up in the national spotlight during the upcoming Democratic presidential debates and 2020 Presidential election. The discussion will include questions from the audience. 6 River Terrace.
Annual winter poetry salon. LMHQ, 150 Broadway.
Imaginary Museums: Nicolette Polek
Today in History
1236 – King Henry III of England marries Eleanor of Provence
1539 – Spain annexes Cuba.
1911 – Roald Amundsen’s South Pole expedition makes landfall on the eastern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf.
1943 – World War II: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first President of the United States to travel by airplane while in office when he flies from Miami to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill.
1950 – The first prototype of the MiG-17 makes its maiden flight.
1953 – Josip Broz Tito is inaugurated as the first President of Yugoslavia.
1954 – The Hudson Motor Car Company merges with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation forming the American Motors Corporation.
1967 – The New York Times reports that the U.S. Army is conducting secret germ warfare experiments.
83 BC – Mark Antony, Roman general and politician (d. 30 BCE)
1683 – Gottfried Silbermann, German instrument maker (d. 1753)
1741 – Benedict Arnold, American-British general (d. 1801)
1875 – Albert Schweitzer, French-Gabonese physician and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
1904 – Cecil Beaton, English photographer, painter, and costume designer (d. 1980)
1928 – Garry Winogrand, American photographer and author (d. 1984)
1952 – Sydney Biddle Barrows, Mayflower Madam
1952 – Maureen Dowd, American journalist and author
1964 – Shepard Smith, American television journalist
1555 – Jacques Dubois, French anatomist (b. 1478)
1742 – Edmond Halley, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist (b. 1656)
1898 – Lewis Carroll, English novelist, poet, and mathematician (b. 1832)
1957 – Humphrey Bogart, American actor (b. 1899)
1977 – Anthony Eden, English soldier and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1897)
1977 – Anaпs Nin, French-American essayist and memoirist (b. 1903)
1984 – Ray Kroc, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1902)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
Lower Manhattan Sales and Rentals Rebound Slightly, But Condo Prices May Founder on Looming Supply Glut
A trio of new reports documents the state of flux in Lower Manhattan home prices, both rental and owner-occupied.
They Didn’t Get the Memo…
Much-Touted Crackdown on Placard Parking Not All It Was Cracked Up to Be
Amid much fanfare, multiple City agencies recently announced that they would take part in a crackdown on illegal parking by government employees, whose personal vehicles bear placards that allow them to leave their cars blocking bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants, bike lanes, and lanes needed for use by fire trucks and ambulances.
By Tuesday, it appeared that dozens of law enforcement personnel who work in Battery Park City hadn’t heard, or perhaps knew better.
Cuomo Announces Planned Expansion of Museum of Jewish Heritage
At his annual State of the State address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo included on his list of dozens of proposals an announcement that he was directing the Battery Park City Authority to develop an expansion plan for the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, located within Wagner Park, on Battery Place.
Cuomo Vetoes Legislation Sought by HRPT to Allow Development on Pier 40
On New Year’s Eve, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill passed earlier this year by both houses of the State legislature that would have allowed limited commercial development on Pier 40, the massive former cruise ship terminal on the Hudson River waterfront, adjacent to Houston Street, which covers 14 acres and now houses athletic and recreational facilities.
Such development would have helped to fund operations for the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), which oversees the four-mile-long riverfront park that stretches from the Battery to West 59th Street.
“Pier 40 is a very key element of the Hudson River Park,” noted Paul Goldstein, who chairs the Waterfront Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), at an April meeting. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?
ORGANIZED, RELIABLE, KNOWLEDGEABLE.
LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR AVAILABLE
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17 year old young man, lifetime resident of Tribeca and BPC.
Went to PS 234, Lab Middle School and currently attending Millennium HS. This summer was a Councilor at Pierce Country Day Camp. Excellent references.Very experienced with kids under 10.
Available for weeknight and weekend baby-sitting and tutoring middle-schoolers in Math or Science. Please contact Emmett at 917.733.3572
IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting. Knowledgeable in all software programs.
James Keirstead firstname.lastname@example.org
347-933-1362 References available
CERTIFIED HOME HEALTH AIDE SEEKING
Full-Time Live-In Elder Care
I am loving, caring and hardworking with 12 years experience. References available. Marcia 347-737-5037 email@example.com
NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature Text Paula at 917-836-8802
ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
Available starting September for PT/FT.
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Class-Action Suit on Behalf of Gateway Tenants Reaches Proposed Settlement
Attorneys representing Gateway Plaza residents in a class-action suit that began in 2014 have reached a tentative settlement with the LeFrak Organization, the landlords at Battery Park City’s largest residential complex, which they value at $42 million. To read more…
Eyes to the Sky
January 6 – 19, 2020
Sun’s New Year, dawn and dusk planets
Since the winter solstice, December 21, I have been particularly attentive to the Sun as it sets into the skyline to the southwest. Even though I know that the Sun is setting about a minute later everyday, I am impressed to notice that the location of the setting Sun has inched more westerly.
By the time of Vernal Equinox, March 19, sunset will be due west. Sunset today, the 6th, is at 4:43:33pm., an increase of 15 minutes from the earliest sunset on December 8th. Picking up momentum, we will experience a 14-minute gain of afternoon sunlight by January 19, when sunset time is 4:57:28pm. To read more…
Recalling Five Points
Epicenter of a Notorious Slum Proposed for Commemoration
In 1831, the City government considered a petition that warned, “that the place known as “Five points” has long been notorious… as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.”
A decade later, Charles Dickens, visiting New York, wrote of the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood that had inspired the petition, “what place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points…. To read more…
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday January 19
07:00 ~ 17:00
Sunday February 2
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to passenger and propulsion problems, tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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