Yeah, that got my attention the other night during the Community Board 3 meeting. Between November 2009 and May, CB3 Urban Fellow Paulo H. Lellis conducted retail research "to examine the concerns of business operators in Community Board 3 and obtain information on the diversity of business in the area."
Lellis gave a quick overview of the fairly massive report on Tuesday night. (We'll get to more on Avenue A in a minute...)
A few quick items about ground-floor retail in the CB3 area (from 2009):
Average monthly rent: $8,097.90
Average square footage of retail space: 1,464
Average annual rent per square foot: $77
I know what you're thinking: "Gee, Grieve, this is super, but how does it compare with, say, Harlem, the Meatpacking District or the Financial District?"
Glad you asked!
Average annual rent per square foot in Harlem: $75-$200
Average annual rent per square foot in MePa (sorry!): $400-$450
Average annual rent per square foot in FiDi (sorry!): $100-$400
A few more facts:
As of 2009, there are 151 chain stores in the 10003 zip code -- the third-most number of chain stores in 30 NYC zips... (The East Village Community Coalition examined formula zoning in 2008... see that report here.)
Oh, I could go on with stats. But you can find all these reports yourself at the CB3 site.
First, though, here's an overview of what Lellis was looking to find...
The research consisted of a survey of business owners/managers on 9th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues which sought to prioritize business concerns. Two retail use surveys were also carried out in order to provide information on the types of businesses located on Avenue A and 9th Street. Additionally, a shift-share analysis was conducted to determine the change in the growth of local retail and accommodation & food service establishments relative to Manhattan and New York City between the years 2002 and 2007. The fellow also examined CB3 commercial retail rents relative to other neighborhoods.
The fellow’s research revealed that taxes were reported to be the primary concern for business owners/managers and utilities were the second largest concern. Additionally, the research revealed that retail did not experience the same favorable growth as the accommodation & food services sector in Community Board 3 despite being relatively better off than Manhattan and New York City in terms growth of establishments. Lastly, the surveys provided a basis from which to continue to examine the issues of retail diversity and rents in the community.
I'm particularly interested in his findings on Avenue A, something which I did rather informally earlier this year.
Here's what he found...
Basically, there are 51 bars, restaurants and lounges on Avenue A, which accounts for 35 percent of the storefronts... then... there are 19 vacant storefronts, which account for 13 percent of the storefronts... then... there are 15 delis and groceries, 10 percent of the total storefronts. (There are 147 storefronts in total...)
By the way, he also examined Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue... perhaps I'll highlight that report another day...
So what does all this mean?
Based on his results, the following options for consideration and suggested areas for further inquiry are presented to the CB3 Economic Development Committee:
1. Inform local businesses about existing services available to help them negotiate leases with favorable provisions on taxes
2. Encourage "on-bill financing" of energy efficiency improvements for businesses as a means to achieve cost savings
3. Incorporate research on retail diversity and options to address the issue, like formula zoning, as an ongoing project for future community board fellows
4. Continue to explore the issue of retail rents in the neighborhood and possible ways to address this concern through programs such as tax abatements
Anyway, there are reports galore at the CB3 website. In the short term, well, I think I'll go to Ray's for a hot dog...