Initially expected to be the next SoHo or West Village, the Lower East Side is getting an F as a shopping destination. Since February ... several other apparel shops, including trendy In God We Trust, have given up on the Lower East Side. Others, such as accessories purveyor Bag and fashion boutique Convent, have announced their imminent closures. Businesses complain that landlords, anticipating completed developments, have been jacking up rents, though several construction projects are still stalled with recession-related woes.
The influx of nightlife has only driven up rents, making the area even less appealing for emerging boutiques. In the past 18 months, asking prices in the neighborhood have jumped, increasing 20% following recession-related drops. Now, asking rents on prime streets range from $100 to $150 a square foot, while secondary areas are closer to $65 a square foot, according to brokers.
“If I was a landlord, I'd want to fill the block with cool local stores so the foot traffic is cool—we don't need another NoLIta or SoHo,” said Julie Noyce, In God We Trust's general manager. “The Lower East Side has always been for artists and rock 'n' rollers — if you get rid of that local flavor, then it's just Steve Madden and a bunch of bars.”