Friday, April 27, 2012

Update On Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail - Organic Grocer and Wine Shop Leases Signed, Subway Sandwich, Europan Bakery and Child School Still Not Signed Says Hudson Related

Reported last week on 5 new leases signed by retail Master Leaseholder Hudson Related for Roosevelt Island's Main Street:

...Retail leasing activity includes new tenants and renewals, including:
·         Island Spirts, a new wine and liquor store will open at 605 Main St. The island has been without a wine store for several years.
·         Wholesome Direct, a gourmet and organic natural food market at 530 Main St.
·         Europan Bakery Cafe at 503 Main St. will offer fresh gourmet foods, beverages and baked goods.
·         Subway Sandwich at 513 Main St. will offer sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
·         The Child School is opening a 7,000 square foot fine arts center at the upper floor of 504 Main St, which will be complementary space to the School’s other existing facilities on Roosevelt Island and will include art, music, drama and dance studios....
Last Wednesday, Hudson Related representative Andrew Jackson met with a group from the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Main Street Retail Committee to discuss what is happening with the Main Street retail situation.

During the meeting it was learned that the announcement of 5 new signed Main Street leases was a bit premature. Mr. Jackson reported that the only leases for Roosevelt Island's Main Street that have been signed are for the Wine Store and Organic food market, which are owned by the same person, at $45 per square foot. The Subway Sandwich Shop, Europan Bakery and Child School leases are close to being signed but not yet signed. A handshake deal has been made with Trellis and Gallery RIVAA but no signed lease yet.

The discussion included these topics among others:
  • the fate of existing stores such as Trellis, Gallery RIVAA and the Thrift Shop, 
  • the removal of windows from Roosevelt Landings Arcade, 
  • garbage removal from sidewalk in front of Rivercross if the Subway and Europan Bakery or any other restaurant leases are signed, 
  • sit down restaurant,
  • a full service drug store (prohibited in Norhtown by Gristedes lease provision and prohibited in Southtown by Duane Reade lease provision, 
  • pet stores don't seem to be interested in Roosevelt Island due to lack of foot traffic,
  • Status of Public Library for first floor of 504 Main Street,
  • the issue of a conflict of interest if the lease with the Child School is signed for 504 Main Street because the Child School Executive Director Sal Ferrera is a Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) director who will be involved in issues concerning Hudson Related's Ground Lease Modification for Southtown Buildings 7-9
Here's what happened during the meeting.

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Meeting

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Meeting


Westviewer said...

I stopped by a Europan last week to see what they had to offer and was disappointed, but not surprised, that the food was pretty much the same as we already have on the island.  

YetAnotherRIer said...

It'll be competition for Subway and the Riverwalk Deli. 

CheshireKitty said...

Kramer is doing the right thing in leaving the thrift shop, as well as the other existing businesses/non-profits alone for the time being.  Main St is desolate enough as is with the numerous empty store-fronts it would be that much more difficult to interest a businessman to open a business on a practically empty retail strip with no activity if these businesses/organizations were evicted.  The thrift shop, chapel, and RIVAA are key to the community, which includes many poor people.  For them, and others that are not so poor, it is important to have a place to pray, as well as a place they can walk into where they might be in a position to purchase an item.  RIVAA is another location where anyone can walk into for a "free" cultural experience i.e. not compelled to buy something in order to walk in and enjoy the art.  Obviously, the library is also in the same category:  A much-needed free amenity.  One aspect of Main St has been missed by Mr. Kramer. The benches on Main St form window seats looking out onto the heart of RI - they are not just momentary/casual seating.  Theya re almost like our outdoor "living room" - similar to Riverwalk Commons but partially enclosed.  People really socialize in these valued spaces and in good weather may spend quite a bit of time there catching up with friends. Exposing the area to the noise and dust of Main St will degrade the coziness of the social experience; thus, taking away these enclosed window seating areas takes a valued amenity away from the public.  I am glad Kramer is proceeding slowly with his idea of removing the glass panes and window seats along Main St.  The rationale that removing the glass panels will let in more light to the businesses in the arcade is neither here nor there.  If the space were handled in an imaginative manner, with updated lighting, people might be drawn to "explore" the arcade, and then enjoy relaxing on the window seats once they have made a purchase, etc., or as they do today, with a cup of coffee and newspaper, computer, book etc.  Without the glass and window seats, the facade will simply be a columned arcade like any other - uninviting, sterile, not promoting social interaction and community cohesiveness.  Simply a commercial thoroughfare that one wishes to rush through on errands and not linger within - since there will be no window seats/enclosed spaces in which to sit.  I certainly hope Kramer carefully removes the 1 glass panel he is thinking of removing at the former florist space because if the community is opposed to the idea of having these glass panels and window seats removed, it will then be that much easier for him to replace the panel.  Alternatively, Kramer could look into glare-proof glass or plexiglas to replace the existing glass panels.  The configuration of the glass window panes could be re-imagined - perhaps taking inspiration from a modern artist such as Mondrian.  The glass panels then become a decided asset not just for the retail corridor, but for the Landings as well.  If he is going to extend a Southtown-like level of upkeep to the Main St corridor he could keep these panels and the social areas the window seats create within them, clean, since he is hinting Urban American or RIOC or whoever is supposed to be keeping the existing glass panels clean isn't currently doing a very good job of it.  The window seats and glass panels are an amenity many communities would love to have - a partially enclosed arcade, where moms can sit and watch their kids play in safety, almost an enclosed playground, also a space where anyone can sit outside without being totally exposed to the elements!  

Peter Rennee said...

The Thrift Shop is an eyesore and does not reflect the changing needs of the community, but I can understand why the old guard would defend it. Perhaps cutting their footprint and moving them to a less visible location is the solution.

Westviewer said...

A worse eyesore would be yet another empty storefront.  Let it stay until another business wants the space (although if they could spruce it up a bit, that would be nice -- see Housing Works on Crosby Street.) 

Frank Farance said...

Last week, I volunteered a day at the thrift shop, and I got a better insight about the location.

First, I agree the front is unattractive.  I spent several hours cleaning windows (not yet done), and rearranging stuff.  I think it is possible to make it look better (but not perfect), and I am willing to try.  I spent an hour alone trying to get the decals off the window.  I'll find the right goop to take it off.  This is a Spring (Lenten) Project for me.

Second, and more importantly, the thrift shop does regular business and its income is essential for supporting the parish here.  Yes, income from the thrift shop goes towards paying many of the regular bills.  I'm not sure if the parish would survive without the thrift shop.

Third, unless you've spent time in the thrift shop, I'm guessing many of you have incorrect stereotypes about who shops there.

Anyway, I'll do my best to clean the front and make it as attractive as I can.  Wish me Good Luck!

Tram_Rider said...

It is convenient to have a thrift store locally, but because this one does not give receipts, I give my stuff to Hour Children 12-06 36th Avenue.

The Thrift Shop has the BIGGEST store, a prime location and pays no rent. In the inside-out world of the previously community activist Island, it made sense, but no longer.

Not one person who attended the October Town Hall with Kramer spoke in favor of preserving it or the location, and surely there were some parishioners in attendance. If the parish leadership chose not to attend the meeting at voice their support, then they are ostriches, keeping their heads down and ignoring reality.

Good luck Frank on cleaning the windows. It is appreciated.

Perhaps others will pitch in and and help organize the chaotic assortment of stuff there.

CheshireKitty said...

Peter Rennee - The community hasn't changed all that much because despite the new expensive apartments in Southtown and the other newer developments, remember that one entire building of Manhattan Park is moderate-income, and even in Octagon & Southtown, there are a number of so-called affordable apts.  Even the hospital buildings aren't exactly stuffed with high-earning doctors, though there are some there.  You cannot go by the number of market rate vs affordable apartments on RI since the poor usually are more tightly packed into their dwellings because of their higher birth-rate compared with the more affluent, and even the market rate apartments are often occupied by groups of less well-off non-related renters (room-mates) thus the ratio of poor to rich residents of RI probably is fairly stable.  

Remember too the mandate of the agency managing RI, RIOC of the State of NY is to ensure a mixed income   community - not to be the midwife of an exclusive, affluent enclave.  This combination of factors means RI will never be completely gentrified, and thus will avoid the fate of areas that have become completely upscale and thus no longer authentic because of the loss of the ever-present vibrancy a variety of people brings.  We are therefore lucky that this combination of factors means there will always be a need for an inexpensive shopping alternative like the thrift shop on RI.  

You, Peter Rennee, may view the thrift shop as an eyesore, but there are others who view yet another Duane-Reade or Chase or Citi branch on every other corner and want to throw up.  

It's the uniqueness of businesses or non-profits like the thrift shop or the gallery that make communities wonderful and exciting - not the dull uniform sameness of the same cookie-cutter stores over and over again, covered with the same plastic look, the same color decor, the same plastic stuff for sale.  

You should take a look around the most development-crazy nabe in the City - Williamsburg - and note the multiplicity of funky cafes, thrift (or vintage) stores, galleries, bars, unique businesses of every description, and clubs.  Oh yes - there is one new-ish CVS.  But so far, no Duane Reade (as far as I can tell).  

And that's great because it isn't shiny plastic stores that make a community great, or interesting - it's unique businesses or non-profits, community efforts such as coops, neighborhood cafes, places to hang out, exchange gossip and ideas, in an environment where people feel comfortable and are not forced to always consume, consume, consume.  People do not come to NYC to experience more of the same old consumerism - in the form of shiny suburban-style malls or shopping centers.  They come to NY for unique experiences, for the city's creativity and energy.  And of all the businesses or non-profits on RI, the thrift shop, be it ever so humble, remains the most lovable, and the most unique.  

YetAnotherRIer said...

That's one opinion, CheshireKitty, but you are definitely in the minority here on RI. Let's go back to the thrift store. You have been making a case for them for quite a time here in this blog. I just fail to see how you think this is such an important part of our community. I have been donating a lot of clothes to them and I walk by this place multiple times a day. I yet have to see a crowd of people actually doing their shopping there. It has always been more or less deserted. Is there really a need for this place? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

This island is for people with money.if what you are saying is true. Then why is not one affordable apattment building is beingBuilded here.look at eastwood where apartments are going for. 1800 to 4000. Per month. There are over 70 vacant apartments.

CheshireKitty said...

Yet Another RIer - I also have been a donor to the Thrift Shop as well as a regular shopper and in my experience, there are always people shopping there.  You are going out of your way to undercut an important community bastion which fills a vital function of providing a low-cost alternative for the many, many poor or moderate-income people living on RI.  As I said above, RI will never be an enclave for only the rich - for this reason, moderate priced stores will always be needed on Main St. 

Each time I visit the Thrift Shop, I usually purchase one or two items, and have a ball hunting for bargains in the garment, housewares, and books/media sections.  Because RI has a large population of medical personnel, UN people, and other professionals that may live here on a transient basis, there are always tons of interesting things - be they books in all languages, interesting outfits that are usually not even that worn, and so forth.  The "secret" is to visit constantly since the stock is always changing.  The prices are cheap enough to entice customers to experiment with a new look at almost no cost.  So, I and many others of all income levels, but especially those of modest means, find it a to be the most interesting and rewarding shopping destination on the island.  

Let's compare the Thrift Shop to some of the other retail options on RI:  Duane Reade is wildly overpriced and because it is exactly like every other DR in NYC, it is deadly dull.  Even so, I have to admit I shop there occasionally.  Unfortunately, I usually regret having done so because of the ridiculous prices. 

Gristedes:  I haven't shopped there at all in quite some time, for reasons that everyone on RI complains about - lack of quality, high prices and so forth.  Gristedes is just about the opposite of Whole Foods or Trader Joe's in the "interesting shopping experience" department.  

The Deli on Main St has its good qualities such as great sandwiches/prepared food and bagels/bakery breads, and I occasionally shop there.  Since it's a convenience store, it's priced accordingly, but is not really that expensive considering it is the only business of its type on Main St.  It's always a friendly place and a bustling community hub.  It's likely you'll randomly meet a friend or acquaintance at the Deli since everyone seems to shop there.  

The General Store is fine when I do not want to spend twice as much for housewares-type goods (such as light-bulbs, cleaning supplies, tissues) as I would have to spend at Duane Reade.  Usually, a stop at the General Store leads to a pleasant social visit with the proprietors, who are extremely nice people, and have put in many years at that location.  

So, of all these businesses/non-profits, the one I shop at most often and enjoy shopping at the most has to be the Thrift Shop - not only because it is frankly the most interesting store on RI, but also because it's the cheapest; for moderate income residents like me, price is key.  Moreover, when you shop there, you are actually doing a good deed by helping those less fortunate, as opposed to simply putting money into the hands of a faceless corporation driven by the profit motive alone, as is the case when you shop at many chain stores.  

westviewgirl said...

I hope you feel better after getting that off your chest and decaf can really help maybe.