Nearly every storefront is vacant or going out of business between 100th and 101st Sts. Locals blame higher rents
An East Harlem block has become a ghost town called Gentrification.
Lexington Ave. between 100th and 101st Sts. has almost entirely lost its commercial sector as eight of the block’s nine retail spaces either vacant or about to bite the dust — all citing high rents.
Santa Anita Grocery is the latest tenant call it quits, planning to close Aug. 3, after its lease jumped from $4,000 to $7,000.
“For five years everything here was great,” said grocery manager Meliton Torres. “But now it’s a lot of money they want.”
Santa Anita is the newest, but by no means the last victim of one landlord’s bid to upscale the block.
The block was purchased a year ago by Brooklyn-based E & M Associates a year ago. The company initially focused on renovating the residential units on the block — but a month ago, began seeking “upscale” vendors for the vacant spaces.
“The tenants that were there were paying nothing for the space,” said Joshua Kaufman of New Street Realty Advisors, which holds the listings on the properties. “But the neighborhood is changing. I definitely think the market can bear it.
Perhaps, but similar properties listed by New Street just a few blocks away are dramatically cheaper.
On the vacant block of Lexington Ave., New Square is hawking properties at $125.81 per square foot. But on equally commercial E. 106th St., properties are $61.38 per square foot
Bohemia International Hair Salon used to cut and perm on Lexington, but two years ago found the rent too high. The salon packed its sheers and curlers and headed northwest to Madison Ave. and E. 112th St.
“Manhattan is no longer El Barrio,” said owner Ramona Adorno, 55, whose rent was $2,750 on Lexington, but is now $1,750 on Madison. “Now everything is beautiful and they’re charging more. We small businesses have had to close.”
Next to the former powder blue salon storefront, a French bistro run by Food Network star Yoanne Magris joined the chain of business casualties — the all-too-aptly named Yo In Yo Out filed for bankruptcy three weeks ago.
“The neighborhood has never been this empty,” said Maria B., 42, a 26-year resident of the area, who declined to give her last name. “It’s a shame. … The businesses gave this area life. Now it’s depressing.”
The manager of Evergreen Asian Cuisine, an Asian eatery, has little faith the block will see commercial revitalization any time soon.
“They raised the rent and everyone had to leave,” said Irene Zhang, whose restaurant has three years left on its lease, but is already reading the tea leaves.
“It’s not a rich area and I don’t think businesses can survive with rent like this,” said Zhang.
The only thriving business is Joy Burger at the corner of Lexington Ave. and E. 100th St. — and its owner has five years left on his lease.
“We’ve been doing well but we’re kind of a destination point,” said owner Tony Tavakoli. “We’d love to see neighboring business again, it would bring more foot traffic to the area.”
By Laignee Barron / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS