You are being redirected - hold on tight!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Culture: New York is No City For Old Haunts -- Greedy Real Estate Pigs Driving Neighborhood Staples From the Trough

The Ramones and friends outside CBGB during its prime

You know things are bad in New York when even Virgin's giant 14th Street Megastore looks like it will be forced out by greedy landlords looking to make more moolah. Unless you happen to be in Mayor Bloomberg's rarefied tax bracket it's harder and harder to survive anywhere near Manhattan.

The display window at Cafe La Fortuna

The latest on the hitlist is Cafe La Fortuna, a West Side survivor and favored haunt of John Lennon when he lived in the neighborhood. According to the New York Times' piece yesterday, the owners have given Yoko Ono John's favorite chair. By Sunday it will be closed.

This is added to the impending closure of Florent, the anchor of the meatpacking district's revival. Back in the 80s when the surrounding area was a mixture of tranny prostitutes and actual meatpackers it was a lone outpost of civilization. You could get a reasonably priced, delicious meal 24 hours a day surrounded by Florent's self-made maps. It's not clear how much time it has left there but the landlord has made it clear that they are looking for much more money for what has been transformed into a trendy spot.

Already the legendary CBGB, birthplace of New York punk, has closed, as has the Bottom Line.

I hereby proclaim that New York City needs to not just landmark the outside of buildings, but ought to institute a program of Cultural Landmarking to preserve important parts of life in the city. Restaurants, clubs, theatres, anyplace that is a thriving historical beacon of the city's life should be protected from rapacious land barons and the vagaries of an out of control real estate market.

The two people who can get this done are Mayor Bloomberg and Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council. Let's send them a message that our vulnerable cultural anchors need protection -- especially the ones that serve those of us with less than bulging wallets.

You can send Mayor Bloomberg a message here. For Topic use Quality of Life.

You can send Speaker Quinn a message here. For Issue use General Welfare.

No comments: