Home Depot is looking for a home in Hudson Sq.
By Alex Schmidt
To push a big-box store into the Hudson Square neighborhood of Downtown Manhattan quietly and successfully, follow one simple rule: keep it under the radar.
That appears to be exactly what Home Depot and Trinity Real Estate have done in what may be an imminent lease-signing for a 107,000-square-foot space at 345 Hudson St., between King and Charlton Sts., one block south of Houston St. Yancey Casey, a Home Depot spokesperson, said that the lease had not yet been signed but that they are close, while a spokesperson for Trinity, the property owner, confirmed that the two parties are talking.
Carl Weisbrod, president of Trinitys real estate division, did not confirm discussions with Home Depot but did say the chain would benefit Downtown. From our perspective, Home Depot would be a great addition to Lower Manhattan, he said. Its a great use given all of the activity and residential growth down here.
He said the store should not cause traffic problems because many customers going to the stores Manhattan locations take public transportation.
Ive always been in favor of big-box retail in the city, Weisbrod said, referring to his previous jobs running the citys Economic Development Corporation and the Financial Districts business improvement district. He said the city loses a lot of sales tax revenue to the suburbs, adding, Retail has been one of the biggest issues in Lower Manhattan since before Sept. 11.
While benefits of the deal to Home Depot and Trinity are obvious, the sentiment among many of the neighborhoods longtime residents and business owners recalls familiar gripes that were voiced in the last attempted big-box encroachment in the area, at Pier 40 at W. Houston St. in the Hudson River Park. In that 2003 push, community representatives and residents stridently protested what would have been the third Home Depot in Manhattan the other two being at 23rd and 59th Sts. feeling it was inappropriate for a park and for the historic, low-scale neighborhood. Ultimately, the Hudson River Park Trust dropped commercial development plans of the pier, at least for the time being, and, in an interim plan, installed a large, multiuse sports field in the piers courtyard.
A spokesperson for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who represents Chelsea and part of the Village and who opposed the Pier 40 big-box plans, said that recourses for blocking such developments must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. In the Pier 40 situation, for example, parks and sports fields were at stake, while in other cases, commercial developments have been blocked by claims of a sites historical significance. Neither of these approaches will be available in the case of 345 Hudson St., a nonlandmarked building on a wholly commercial stretch of street, at which the Home Depot is reportedly planned.
At risk, according to Hudson Square resident Joanne Hendricks, are the personal touch and character that make New York wonderful. Hendricks, who has lived in her circa 1850 home for 30 years and sees herself as a caretaker of the historic property, says that the community does not need a Home Depot. She and other residents of the neighborhood are loyal patrons of Garber Hardware, where, as Hendricks put it, they know my name and can give me real advice.
Garber, established in 1884 and currently run by fifth-generation owner Nathaniel Garber, is one of the businesses that stands to lose if Home Depot comes in. Garber, however, is concerned not only as a competing business owner but also as a resident of the neighborhood. From a business perspective, Im sure itll affect us. But from a New Yorker perspective, I think its disgusting, he said. The cookie-cutter thing doesnt appeal to most New Yorkers and thats exactly why we pay the huge premiums to live here
. Those stores dont belong here.
Garber added, I hope that the residents take up arms, because itll be a blight on their neighborhood.
This time around, though, the deal seems to have been brewing without the knowledge of the community. While the spokesperson from Quinns office said they would be watching the deal from here on out, keeping in mind what would inevitably be the big concerns of residents, she added that up until the last couple of days, It was under our radar, too.
With reporting by Josh Rogers