Like so many retail spaces in the East Village, a storefront that measures just over 1000 square feet (located on Tenth Avenue, near the baseball stadium) is vacant. In fact, in the almost four years since it was constructed, the space — on the ground level of a condominium — has yet to have a tenant for longer than a two-week period.
In 2007, the space was slotted to open as a laser treatment center. Construction began, rooms were built, and all of a sudden work stopped. A rumor spread that a contractor had swindled the business owner of his capital and the business would no longer open. A year later, a fruit stand sprang up from the partially completed space. Residents got to know Denny, the fruit vendor, and two weeks later he closed permanently. Low foot traffic, high costs, and small margins led to his departure.
In late 2009, Efren, the owner of the unit, admitted that the recession had resulted in little interest in the retail spot and his asking price. He said that people interested in opening a medical marijuana facility had inquired about moving in, but despite his desire to find a lessee, Efren could not bring himself to agree to a controversial tenant. He believed that the condo residents upstairs would most likely protest the dispensary.
This month Efren broke the news that a tenant will be moving in. A business that he expects to offer computer repair will be coming soon. Efren said he finally agreed to lease the space at a rate significantly less than what had been understood as “market value.” After four years with no long-term tenants, he was just pleased to have one.
Upon hearing the news, a neighboring proprietor said, “I hope other [retail space] owners with vacancies can come to the realization that they need to start lowering their rent prices. That’s the only way things will pick up for our community.”