March 14, 2015


Maybe Chelsea will become so bombed out that it will become affordable again? Maybe disillusioned hipsters will move back in to Manhattan as Brooklyn rents rise? Or will these shuttered stores just stay empty until a wealthier chain can afford to open in them?

"Now I'll bet you're thinking this is another one of my posts bitching about all the Chase banks, Duane Reades and nail salons moving into the neighborhood. But it's really not. Some 20 years later -- 17 of which I have lived smack dab in the middle of it all -- I understand the migration of gay life to Hell's Kitchen. First the fabulous gays spruced up the gritty Village and the young gays fled to Chelsea. Then the fabulous gays spruced up working-class Chelsea and the young boys fled to HK. I get it. But now that I have to travel uptown to get my assless chaps and cutaway undies, what remains unclear to me is this: If the outrageous rent hikes drove out all the mom-and-pop hardware stores, coffee joints, funky card and home furnishings shops and bookstores -- and some chains have bombed in the 'hood that once thrived on one-of-a-kind stores -- what type of business can survive here? So far, everything that's attempted to move in has gone under, including two sushi restaurants, a tea/coffeehouse and a pizza parlor. Last week I took a stroll up Eighth Avenue from 14th to 23rd streets, and I counted a shocking 16 empty storefronts. Sixteen empty storefronts where Chelsea Boys once strutted their stuff at everything from the Big Cup, Bright Food Shop and Bendix Diner to 18th & Eighth. Rawhide, and the Break."