Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Times discovers Chinatown

Oh, boy. From today's Times. Titled: General Tso’s Shopping Spree.

In the film version of “Sex and the City,” Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, hunts for an apartment in Chinatown, eager to sink roots into this roiling neighborhood. Once a bit remote and gritty for Miranda and her acquisitive ilk, this Lower East Side enclave — home to Chinese, Burmese and Vietnamese, among others — is on the cusp of gentrification. Wine bars, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques have proliferated, turning the area into a magnet for real-life style seekers who can be seen on weekends casing out the string of shops scattered in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge.
Intent on exploring this two-mile-square area loosely bounded by Kenmare and Delancey Streets on the north, and East and Worth Streets on the south, they thread their way past old tenements, knickknack shops and vendors selling windup toys. And they shop.
“It’s crazy how things are blossoming here,” said Zia Ziprin, the owner of Girls Love Shoes on Ludlow Street, just south of Canal. “It’s definitely becoming a little mecca.”
Merchants are lured by affordable rents; shoppers by the promise of forward-looking, and sometimes budget-friendly, wares at boutiques popping up along Orchard, Ludlow and Division Streets — and, more recently, on Canal, where closet-size outposts of chic rub shoulders with electronics and hardware stores.
For retailers, “Chinatown is a last frontier,” said Faith Hope Consolo, the chairman of retail leasing and sales for Prudential Douglas Elliman. Merchants leap at the chance to lease stores for $100 to $150 a square foot, roughly one third to one half the rent for comparable space farther uptown. “Here they can be big fish in a little pond.”

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