Volume 78 / Number 3 - June 18 - 24, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Food and footwear dominate Eighth St. BID’s retail

By Ed Gold

An upbeat tone was set at the Village Alliance’s 15th annual meeting last Thursday with the business improvement district’s 2008 report indicating retail and commercial vacancies had been reduced to 3 percent in the entire BID, which includes Eighth St. and sections of Sixth Ave. and University Place.

A survey by the BID showed that only 13 storefront vacancies existed in the district out of 400 locations.

Improvement was also registered on W. Eighth St., an area that has had conspicuous ups and downs over the years; the BID survey indicated that 91 percent of locations are currently occupied.

In addition, those at the meeting, held at the King Juan Carlos Center on W. Fourth St., heard that a recent trend toward more eateries was continuing, with “more upscale restaurants” and an “increase in stores catering to the college population.”

A breakdown on merchandise categories showed almost a quarter of all operations in the BID were in the restaurant or fast-food business.

Footwear stores remained important, accounting for 14 percent of the district’s stores, with gift and fashion stores close behind.

Alliance leaders Martin Dresner, the BID’s president, and Honi Klein, executive director, stressed that during the past 18 months there had been “a substantial change in the quality of tenants that elected to open a new venture” in the BID due, they said, to “more attractive rentals compared to other areas in the Village,” the availability of small spaces and the proximity to public transportation.

Featured speakers at the meeting included Akhtar Nawab, chef at the recently opened Elettaria on W. Eighth St., which has an American menu with some Filipino dishes and “an Indian flavor.”

Nawab said he had “looked all over Manhattan” for space but finally decided he wanted to be in Greenwich Village. He left quickly after making his speech; a large party had dinner reservations at his restaurant.

Another speaker was Lynn Gumpert, the curator at N.Y.U.’s Grey Art Gallery on University Place, which serves as a student learning resource but also, she stressed, is open to a Village audience.

She noted the university had an estimated 4,000 items in its art collection, some from the period when “the Village was a hotbed of artist activity.” One of her goals, she added, is to create a modest exhibit showing the history of Greenwich Village.

Also making remarks were Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro and Councilmember Alan Gerson.

Castro noted the Village Alliance had pledged $250,000 to the Washington Square Park renovation, and alluding to the differences in the community on the project, he added that “at some point, government had to make a decision, and we did.” He said he “felt good about the end product.”

Construction on the park was proceeding rapidly, he continued, and he expected the first phase to be completed this fall. He singled out the most recent leaders at Community Board 2, current chairperson, Brad Hoylman, and his predecessor, Maria Passannante Derr, for their cooperation in moving the park project along.

Gerson, making one of his shortest speeches, presented a City Council proclamation to the Alliance for its contribution to the community’s welfare.

The BID membership also elected five new directors for two-year terms: Anthony Caifano of Amalithune Reality Corp., Ian Ginsberg of Bigelow Pharmacy, Julie Weprin of Jack Bistro, Adam Pomerantz of Murray’s Bagels and Louis La Rocca of Capital One bank.

Klein wound up the meeting listing some of the BID’s surface inventory in the community highlighted by 98 streetlights, 80 garbage cans, 75 public phones and 50 hanging geranium plants.


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