Volume 76, Number 20 | October 4 - 10, 2006

Villager photo by Elissa Bogos

Paints & Prints is a new art store on W. Eighth St. at MacDougal St.

W. Eighth St. will be new ‘Culinary Alley,’ Alliance says

By Ed Gold

A retailing revival on W. Eighth St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. will reduce vacancies on that block from a high of 18 last spring to eight by the end of this year, according to Honi Klein, executive director of the Village Alliance business improvement district, whose coverage area includes all of Eighth St.

Klein’s assertion is buttressed by a survey in late August in the trade publication Real Estate Weekly, which notes the earlier “disheartening” vacancy rate, but adds that “a few savvy investors are seeing the glimmer of life quietly ushering in a new era for the block.”

Klein explains that the most conspicuous new retail tenants will be operating small restaurants with distinctive cuisines. She states that a range of restaurants will offer Belgian, Brazilian, Mexican, Greek, Japanese and Korean specialties.

“I’m calling it Culinary Alley,” she said.

In addition, she says a wine boutique and the Subway restaurant chain will also occupy storefronts on the block.

Also, two other current food operations are expanding and filling two vacancies: Le Pain Quotidien, at the corner of Fifth Ave. and W. Eighth St., featuring upscale sandwiches and pastry, is expanding for the second time, and Eva’s, a health food operation, is also filling a now-vacant location.

Two other retailers moving into W. Eighth St. are an art store, Paints & Prints, and Klein noted with a smile, “the return of one of our shoe store tenants.”

Real Estate Weekly reviews the decline of W. Eighth St. during the past decade and states that “the block had picked up an uncomfortable stigma of housing second-class retail.” But the publication now feels that “over the next few years that stigma will likely disappear as new uses find their way to the block.”

The article argues that “a similar transformation” had taken place in the 14th St. business improvement district’s area and credits the realtor Buchbinder & Warren for setting an example by making a commitment both on 14th St. and W. Eighth St. “to improve the quality of tenants.”

Recognizing that the W. Eighth St. record has been dismal in recent years, Real Estate Weekly concludes:

“While some may say the sky is falling, it seems much more likely that not only is this story a false alarm, but that things on the block are likely to get dramatically better.”

Klein reports that the Village Alliance district now has 293 tenants, with what she considers a healthy vacancy rate of 3.4 percent.

The BID currently includes Eighth St. between Sixth and Second Aves., Astor Pl. between Broadway and Third Ave., and Sixth Ave. from W. Fourth St. to W. Eighth St.

The Village Alliance is currently awaiting action by the City Council on a proposed expansion that has already received approval from City Planning. If approved, the BID would also cover most of the area running up Sixth Ave. from W. Eighth St. to W.13th St.; University Pl. from E. Ninth St. to E. 13th St.; and Broadway from E. Ninth to E. 10th Sts.

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