Saturday, October 1, 2011
High Line killing small businesses
Many of the high hopes that small-business owners had for the High Line have fallen hard.
The lush green artery is killing off a chunk of New York’s entrepreneurial and gritty industrial past as the real estate developers, landlords and other profiteers cash in on the city’s latest chic attraction, some small- business owners said.
The elevated park has been widely praised since its first leg opened in 2009, developing into a major tourist attraction. But few of the 2 million annual visitors likely hold the opinion of the owner D & R Auto Parts.
“The High Line sucks,” he griped to amNewYork. He said he would “rather have my knees cut off” than take a stroll along the sylvan pathway, as his profits have dropped 35% to 40% since it opened. Prior to the 2005 zoning changes that encouraged development to help the High Line, the area was a sparsely populated urban backwater, filled with low-rise buildings, artist lofts, auto shops and small industry. Now it brims with luxury housing, high-end boutiques and tourists from all over the globe.
Local businesses — “the marble countertop guy, the bar, the restaurant” — are vanishing as a result of the “perfect storm” caused by High Line-related gentrification, the increasing cost of operating a small business, the city’s stepped-up enforcement of revenue-generating activities such as ticket writing and inspections, and the recession, the auto-parts vendor lamented. He refused to be quoted by name, saying he feared retribution by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.