Columbus Avenue BID Boasts 100 Percent Retail Occupancy
Daniel Edward Rosen March 29, 2012, 5:38 p.m.
The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District has reached 100 percent occupancy for all the retail shops in its zone –an area that is part of a controversial zoning proposal that was unanimously approved by members of Community Board 7 earlier this month– The Commercial Observer has learned.
The lease for 446 Columbus Avenue, once the site of Calle Ocho (a restaurant deemed too boisterous by former Hollywood heartthrob Matt Dillon), has been signed by an unknown business, bringing the occupancy rate to 1oo percent.
“It’s incredible!” Barbara Adler, executive director of the Columbus Avenue BID, told The
The occupancy rate for retail spaces in the BID’s area of coverage, which is bordered between West 67th Street and West 82nd Street, has always hovered around 94 percent, even in tough times. But this is the first time it has reached 100 percent, said Ms. Adler.
“We feel that we want to brag about this now and say ‘just leave us alone,’ because we don’t need any help,” said Ms. Adler, who could not name the new tenant at 446 Columbus Avenue.
That “help” comes in the form of a new zoning proposal that was originally designed to keep big-box retailers out of the neighborhood while keeping the smaller storefronts in operation by limiting the size of storefronts to 40 feet or less.
However, critics have been quick to point out that the proposal, if passed, will do more harm than good. This includes prohibiting existing storefronts to expand while bringing in new stores with more local character (as opposed to national chains).
Community Board 7 voted unanimously in favor of the proposal, which is said to affect 77 storefronts on the Upper West Side. The proposal is slated to be reviewed by the city Department of Planning and the City Council sometime next month.
“The end product here is a resounding endorsement of a proposal set forth by the Department of City Planning with the goal of preserving the retail character of our neighborhood,” said Mark Diller, chairman of Community Board 7, the day after the vote.
But many local business groups and residents are still voicing their displeasure about the proposal.
“We are not broken and we don’t need any fixing,” said Ms. Adler.
Andrew Albert, Executive Director of the West Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, mirrored Ms. Adler’s sentiments.
“I think it’s great, especially in these tough times, and it sort of emphasizes that you don’t have to toy with the zoning with our commercial avenues,” said Mr. Albert.
But others were skeptical about the Columbus Avenue BID’s happy news.
“At 75th street we have two major stores that are just going out,” said one West Sider, who did not want to be named.
Bringing up the brouhaha surrounding the zoning proposal into the BID’s new occupancy rate was like “Apples and Oranges,” the person added.
“This is not about vacancy, this is about the size of storefronts,” said the West Sider.
Council member Gail Brewer (D-Manhattan), who is behind the proposed commercial rezoning, welcomed the Columbus Avenue BID’s news.
“I think that they do a great job, but I do think they won’t see any impact to their future,” said Ms. Brewer. And as far as the zoning proposal is concerned, it will end up doing more good than harm, she added.
“All of their stores fit into what we’re asking,” said Ms. Brewer.
The proposal, if passed, will save the mom and pop stores that have become “the soul of the neighborhood,” said Ms. Brewer.