The Villager this week summarizes the results of an East Village retail diversity study that Columbia University students recently presented to CB3's Economic Development Committee.
Among the not-really-shocking bullet points for the CB3 area (the East Village, the Lower East Side and part of Chinatown):
• Struggle to retain affordable housing stock
— 42% increase in average rent between 2000 and 2012
• Struggle to retain local businesses
• Rapid displacement of family owned businesses
— Ever growing bar and restaurant industry
— Increasing rents
• Increase in liquor-licensed establishments
— Decreased quality of life
— Nighttime noise complaints
— Inactive daytime storefronts
— Little attraction to residents
— Lack of local retail services
— Increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic congestion
From the Villager article:
More startling perhaps was what the data showed about full-service restaurants and watering holes. In 2004, there were 248 food-services and drinking places in Alphabet City. By 2012, that number had ballooned to 514, significantly outpacing any other kind of business and increasing these businesses’ area "market share" to 32 percent.
Yet, Alphabet City’s number of bars has actually fluctuated, from 24 in 2004, up to a high of 80 in 2008, and back down to 59 in 2012. Meanwhile, full-service restaurants have simply exploded, from 175 in 2004 to 380 in 2012.
The study also found a big increase in median household income — by an average of nearly 45 percent, from just under $37,000 in 2000 to $62,000 in 2012. (In some census tracts in the study area, the median household income jumped 100 percent to $144,821, as The Villager noted.)
Back to the article:
The data also added some weight to claims that city planners under former Mayor Bloomberg targeted the East Village as a "destination neighborhood" for tourists. This is a view with which Stacey Sutton — a Columbia urban planning professor and mentor to the students who did the report — somewhat agrees. A 2012 report prepared for CB3 by Mary de Stefano, the board’s former planning fellow, reached a similar conclusion about the former mayor's intentions.
The area’s food-services and drinking places drew in a hefty $200 million in 2012, according to the report. These were also far and away the area’s chief employers among types of businesses studied, with more than 6,100 workers, up from more than 5,200 in 2006.
The report included some recommendations, including:
• Maintain existing but limit future restaurant, bar, and chain store openings
— Develop initiatives to inform and persuade building owners to look for and keep small business tenants
Materials to support these initiatives:
1) An updated land use inventory
2) A list of retail needs other than restaurants and bars
Require special permits or special zoning regulations to make it difficult for these retail types to open in the area
The meeting was May 7. As The Villager article noted, "Despite the issue’s purported urgency, however, turnout was low at the meeting, which drew few local community members."
We don't recall hearing anything about it … outside the usual monthly email listing all the committee meetings, a number which can be as high as 15.
Find a PDF of the study here.