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Revolving Doors on Second Avenue

Change continues unabated on Turtle Bay's "Main Street," Second Avenue. Perhaps the most obvious one is at the corner of 47th Street, where the newly resurrected Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park has become a popular spot for enjoying the autumn weather.

The real estate picture, however, is still one of "revolving doors": several restaurants have closed in the past year - two of them old standbys in the neighborhood, Eamonn Doran near 53rd Street and Paparazzi at the corner of 51st Street. Their buildings stand empty while developers make plans for replacements. Between 47th and 48th Streets the former Lookout seafood restaurant closed in May after just one year, and the space is now for rent.

On the plus side, we now have a neighborhood bank, with the unlikely name of Country Bank (a branch of a Westchester bank). It replaced the dry cleaning shop at the corner of 48th Street. Martell's Grill, an offshoot of the uptown Martell's, has replaced the Boston Market on the east side of the avenue just above 50th Street.
Developers assembling properties are one cause of these changes. For example, the properties at the corner of 53rd Street (including Eamonn Doran) have been held vacant for years, in anticipation of a new hotel. The proposed construction at Second Avenue and 53rd Street will most likely not be a hotel since the zoning precludes such use except for the first and second floors.

Rising rents are the other major cause. Long-term leases expiring now must be renewed at substantially higher rents.

On the avenue, yearly rates of $80 or $85 per square foot are not unheard of, up by a third over the past year and double the level of five years ago.

Rents could go even higher if, despite all our protests, Trump World Tower becomes a reality. According to Marilyn Kane of Nichols & Kane Realty, which specializes in retail properties, local business people can turn this eventuality into a positive by sprucing up their properties now, inside and out. Restaurants especially tend to operate on ten-year leases, and a long-term lease becomes a valuable commodity in a rising market. "It's a good time for a facelift," she says.


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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
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