Monday, August 1, 2022

Report explores East Village storefront trends from 2019-2021; vacancies on the rise

It's not your imagination: There are a lot of empty storefronts in the East Village. 

From 2019 to 2021, there was a 35% increase in storefront vacancies in the neighborhood. 

That's just one finding in a new report titled "Crisis and Adaptation: Storefront Trends in the East Village, 2019 – 2021." 

The report, released by the Cooper Square Committee, Village Preservation and East Village Community Coalition, provides a deep dive into the neighborhood's commercial landscape that builds off of the 2019 "East Village Commercial District Needs Assessment" to give a 2021 snapshot of the EV commercial district. 

The report identifies changes in the commercial district since 2019 and current challenges facing the small businesses in the neighborhood, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report's authors say it depicts a picture of survival amidst ongoing challenges that have led to the closure of numerous local businesses.

The findings are based on an on-the-ground survey conducted in the fall of 2021 that recorded business information or vacancy status for all first and second-floor storefronts in the East Village. In addition, the report draws on merchant experiences shared through a recent survey and interviews with small business owners. 

Among the findings:
  • Of the vacant storefronts observed in 2021, 171 are new vacancies and 149 were also vacant in 2019.
  • Medium and large landlords (6-60 buildings) own buildings with a majority of storefront spaces overall and own properties with disproportionately high rates of new vacancies, business closures since 2019, and persistent vacancies.
  • From 2019-2021, 336 businesses in the East Village closed while 261 new ones opened their doors.
  • Accommodation and Food Services businesses declined over twice as much as Retail Trade and all Other Categories, which remained relatively stable. Accommodation and Food Service establishments declined by 6%; Retail Trade businesses by 2%.
  • 13 businesses expanded in the neighborhood, and 17 relocated to new locations within the neighborhood boundaries.
The report concludes, in part:
Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the years from 2019 to 2021 saw a variety of changes to the East Village commercial district. The number of vacant storefronts in the neighborhood grew as many merchants struggled to keep their businesses afloat and some were forced to shutter their doors. 

While some business categories grew, others faced decline or remained stable. Growing businesses and 
These changes within the commercial district reflect the many challenges that merchants face during ordinary times as well as new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Respondents to the Merchant Survey reported that the top three challenges they face relate to their commercial rent/lease, finding skilled workers, and marketing/advertising costs. Other notable challenges that merchants face are gaining access to loans/credit/ financing and labor costs.

To overcome these challenges, it is essential that merchants in the East Village continue to receive small-business support and resources in order to ensure their businesses can prosper and grow.
There's a lot to unpack in the 20-page report, which you can read here. We plan to look at some other findings in the days ahead.

Rock on: The memorial plaque is back outside the former Fillmore East on 2nd Avenue

The commemorative plaque is back in place outside the former home of the Fillmore East at 105 Second Ave. near Sixth Street ...
In the late winter, the plaque was sent out for repairs.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (now Village Preservation) along with Two Boots placed the memorial here in the fall of 2014 to honor the venue that helped launch some of the biggest names in music from 1968 to 1971.

The sibling to Bill Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco brought performers such as Led Zeppelin, the Doors, B.B. King, Roberta Flack, the Byrds, the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez and the Who to the East Village starting in March 1968.

No. 105 opened in 1926 as a Yiddish theater, soon becoming the Loew's Commodore movie house, followed by the Village Theater. In the 1980s, it was the nightclub The Saint, becoming Emigrant Bank in 1995 and then Apple Bank in 2013.

You can read about the history of the building and the 2,700-seat venue right here. And find a listing of every band who played the Fillmore East here.
Archival photo courtesy of Amalie R. Rothschild

On 9th Street, the former Central Bar is now an office space

Photos by Steven

Workers recently removed the plywood from the under-renovation space at 109 E. Ninth St. between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue... permits show that the former Central Bar was being converted to office space ...
The new ground-floor tenant is MGNY Consulting, which "provides filing and support services for property owners faced with property liability issues such outstanding tax charges and violations."

The Central Bar, the bi-level sports bar-lounge, closed in March 2021 after nearly 20 years in business. In a letter to patrons, the bar owners noted: "Our landlord has sold the building, and the new owners will not be keeping us as tenants."

The building changed hands for $3.35 million. No word on what happened to 109's 13 residential units.

Dia has closed (again)

Closing the book here on Dia, which has not been open in recent months at 58 Second Ave. between Third Street and Fourth Street.

The inside of the restaurant that offered Roman-style pizza and coastal Italian seafood is in some disarray (thanks to Steven for this photo) ... 
The phone is no longer in service, and Yelp lists the restaurant as closed.

Dia first opened in the fall of 2018... and it was one of several Second Avenue restaurants to shut down coming out of the summer of 2020.

However, at some point last year, new management revived the space until it quietly closed in the early summer.

Meanwhile, as some residents have previously asked, who is responsible for clearing out and/or taking down curbside dining spaces after a restaurant closes? Here's a look at Dia's outdoor structure...

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Sunday's parting shots

Photos by Derek Berg 

A high-energy show today in Tompkins Square Park with Pinc Louds, Mary Shelley (below), InCircles and Mike Yannich ...

6 posts from July

...a mini month in review... 

• StreetEasy data: Median East Village residential rents surged 43% in the past 12 months (July 28

• Seth Tobocman on the story behind a long-covered mural on 9th Street (July 21)

• Some 13th Street residents want the fried-chicken smell to stop (July 19)

• Opening-night crowd prompts the NYPD to shut down the art show at O'Flaherty's on Avenue C (July 15

• A visit to Kembra Pfahler's new studio space on 6th Street (July 14

• A very public eviction for Anwar Grocery on Avenue B (July 13

Week in Grieview

Posts from this past week included (with a random photo Tuesday from the Manhattan Bridge) ... 

• StreetEasy data: Median East Village residential rents surged 43% in the past 12 months (Thursday

• Spazio Amanita coming to the Bowery (Thursday

• The fullest full reveal to date at Zero Irving on 14th Street (Monday

• Report: Alleged subway shooter who was arrested in the East Village set to stand trial in February (Monday

• At long last, this section of 1st Street is free of a sidewalk bridge (Tuesday ... Wednesday

• Another look at the long-stalled 75 1st Ave. (Wednesday

• Openings: El Churro on Houston and Allen (Monday

• Where to get your free East Village vintage clothing map (Saturday

• Construction watch: 699 E. 6th St. (Tuesday

• Here Nor There has left 9th Street (Monday

• 112 4th Ave. hits the sales market (Tuesday

• Key Food is closing an hour earlier now 'due to renovations' (Wednesday

• Shopping the PP strip on Second Avenue (Friday

• Signage alerts: C as in Charlie on Bleecker; Íxta on the Bowery (Wednesday

• No, Panda Express hasn't opened yet (Thursday

• Superiority Burger's summer salad interlude ends; full speed ahead on Avenue A (Wednesday)

• Something other than a smoke shop opens in a vacant storefront (Monday

• Meanwhile, signage for Runtz Tobacco arrives on 1st Avenue (Monday)

Follow EVG on Instagram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.

A mid-summer look at the wisteria of Stuyvesant Street

Photo yesterday by Steven

The wisteria ("the purple paradise of flowering beauty") outside 35 Stuyvesant St. at 10th Street is looking quite lush here as we enter August and the opening weekend for Brad Pitt's "Bullet Train" ... this after a slow start back in the spring, prompting concerns of root disease or something else not good. All appears well for now.

Today in street fairs

The annual Third Avenue Festival hosted by the Cooper Square Committee takes place today on... Third Avenue! Between Sixth Street and 14th Street. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Meanwhile, the toilet tippers were out early...

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Saturday's parting shot

Photo by Lola Sáenz 

Today at Sunny's Florist (the best flowers around) on Second Avenue and Sixth Street... Sunny's husband Paul Cho was there to help her open...

Where to get your free East Village vintage clothing map

Maegan and Alex, the proprietors of East Village Vintage Collective, maintain an updated map of vintage clothing stores in the neighborhood

You can pick up a free copy of the latest version at the shop, 545 E. 12th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B ... which is open Wednesday-Sunday from 1-6 p.m. 

Additions include the recently opened Thrift NYC at 226 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.


[Men Sobbing]... as seen at the former Gem Spa space (RIP May 2020) on Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place... (and first spotted by @jeremoss! 😍)

Saturday's opening shot

Sunrise from Tompkins Square Park...

Friday, July 29, 2022

Friday's parting shot

As seen on 12th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue... thanks to @thingswendysees for the photo!

From here to 'Eternity'


Metric — "the Canadian new wave torchbearers" — recently released album No. 8, Formentera. The video here is for "What Feels Like Eternity." 

The band will be out at Brooklyn Steel this October.

A Book Exxxposition at Le Petit Versailles

A lot is going on for the rest of the summer at Le Petit Versailles, one of our favorite community gardens. Here's a look at tomorrow's event...

Saturday, July 30 

SOILED: A Book Exxxposition featuring erotic and pornographic materials by contemporary artists 

Le Petit Versailles garden presents SOILED: A Book Exxxposition and showcase of artists who publish erotic zines, books and other artist multiples. 

First organized by Matthew Leifheit in 2017, this year's iteration includes live performances and erotically charged films, in addition to artist multiples from Drake Carr + John Patrikas, Jeremy O. Harris, Rachel Stern, Michael Bailey-Gates and Shala Miller. 

The order of events: Noon, book fair; 6 p.m., performances; 8:30 p.m., film program. You can reserve a space here


Le Petit Versailles is at 247 E. Second St./346 E. Houston St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. The events are free, though donations are welcome. 

Find more events coming soon to Le Petit here.

Shopping the PP strip on 2nd Avenue

EVG reader CH shared these photos and text...
This past Friday, my friend and I were looking for a quick bite between two screenings at Anthology when we discovered that the ground floor of 50 Second Ave. is entirely occupied by establishments whose names consist of two words starting with the letter P: Pak Punjab, Proto’s Pizza and Puff & Pass. 

It happened to be the grand opening of Puff & Pass, who informed us that they had chosen their name based on those of their two neighbors. We proceeded to have four slices of pizza from Proto’s; after the second screening, we also purchased a box of Pocky sticks from Puff & Pass, as well as “Peanut Pista” biscuits and “Pass Pass Pulse” candies (this review is very accurate) from Pak Punjab. 

We’re not thrilled about whatever’s happening next door… praying that the Poetry Project or some other PP takes over. 

EVG Etc.: Andy Warhol's durational cinema; Economy Candy's 85th birthday

Some headlines from other sources this past week (with a random photo from Avenue A)...

• City announces a new "public-private partnership" to help unhoused residents (NBC 4 ... city news release)

• Columbia University graduate student is in the ICU with brain trauma; police believe he was attacked on the L after drinks in the East Village (NBC 4 ... ABC 7

• Police searching for two men for questioning in the murders of Nikki Huang and Jesse Parrilla (Daily News ... previously on EVG

• The number of legal evictions in New York City grew each month in the first half of 2022 (City Limits

• A look at the backers of Yuh-line Niou and Carlina Rivera for the open-seat Democratic primary race in the new NY-10 district (The Indypendent

• More about "7 Gardens" in East Village community gardens (Artnet ... previously on EVG

• Fine-dining destination Kajitsu, which first opened in the East Village before moving to Midtown East, is closing on Sept. 18 (Instagram

• Upcoming screenings for Andy Warhol's most often-discussed but rarely-screened films representing experiments in durational cinema — "The Chelsea Girls," "Sleep" and "Empire" (Anthology Film Archives

• Coming soon: "Easy Rider" in 35MM (Village East

• Some history of the "Physical Graffiti" building on St. Mark's Place (Atlas Obscura

• Economy Candy turns 85 (Untapped New York

• Russ & Daughters Café on Orchard Street reopens after extended pandemic-related closure (Gothamist)

• About the "Sweet Green" installation at Chinatown Soup (Hyperallergic

• Netflix-approved immersive "Squid Game" experience coming to 81 Essex St. on the LES (The Hollywood Reporter)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Thursday's parting shot

Fifth Street between A and B... everything is fine — fine!

StreetEasy data: Median East Village residential rents surged 43% in past 12 months

Yesterday I shared in the EVG Instagram Stories the above post from the @nytimes account about the sky-rocketing rents for NYC apartments.

In the photo, the East Village resident and roommate reportedly paid $3,300 in rent in 2020... $4,700 last year... and a staggering $6,300 in 2022. They will likely need to move. 

I heard from about a dozen (now-former) East Village residents via Instagram who said they found themselves in similar situations: landlords dropping exorbitant increases on their market-rate apartments in the past year. In most cases, the residents had to move away ... some went out of state to live with relatives ... another is couch-surfing in Brooklyn ... while one said he found a place in the farthest reaches of Queens. 

The piece in the Times was prompted by a report Tuesday via StreetEasy titled, "As Pandemic-Era Leases Expire, NYC Renters Face Toughest Market in Decade." 

An excerpt: 
Despite gradually improving inventory, asking rents are rising steeply as landlords seek to reverse pandemic-era discounts. Rental demand has remained strong as more people gradually return to the city after a jump in outbound migration during the pandemic. Disappearing rental concessions also suggest landlords remain confident about demand. Meanwhile, priced out of Manhattan, many renters are shifting their search to more affordable areas in Brooklyn and Queens. 
Quarter-over-quarter, NYC rental inventory rose 14% to 65,697 available units in Q2. The strong increase may seem like a positive development for renters, but many of these rentals are expired pandemic-era deals that re-entered the market with significantly higher asking rents. Throughout 2020 and 2021, many landlords offered steep discounts and free months of rent — deals that have mostly lapsed by now.

Landlords have been raising rents more aggressively on units they leased during the pandemic in effort to recoup the earnings they lost. On average, rentals that were listed in 2020 or 2021 and relisted in Q2 2022 showed a 20.4% increase in asking rents per year. In comparison, rentals that were listed in 2018 or 2019 and relisted in Q2 2022 showed a rent increase of 4.5% per year. The 20.4% jump in rent is nearly four times as steep as the yearly increase a tenant would have seen otherwise – which can mean the difference between losing and keeping their current home. 
Per the report, Manhattan's median asking rent rose to $4,100 by the end of the second quarter — the highest on StreetEasy record and equivalent to 55% of the borough's monthly median household income. 

In the East Village, the StreetEasy data shows the median asking rents on active listings in the second quarter jumped 43.1% to $4,150 from the same period in 2021 

Map here via Bloomberg's article on the topic...
And there have been articles about hour-long lines to view some pretty humdrum East Village units. And there have been lines to check out larger units, such as a three-bedroom space asking $5k-plus on 10th Street at Second Avenue (photo from July 16 by Steven)...
Some parting thoughts from StreetEasy's report: 
Unfortunately, the recent improvement in rental inventory has been largely driven by households being priced out of increasingly unaffordable rentals. In addition, as interest rates rise, more would-be homebuyers may be forced to resign themselves to renting, pushing up the demand for rentals even further. During this transition in the NYC market, we foresee rent increases continuing at least through the end of this summer.