A recent New York Times article about retail vacancies on Bleeker Street in the West Village neighborhood of New York City caught our attention as we observe the evolution of shopping and retail on Larchmont Blvd.
Bleecker Street’s Swerve From Luxe Shops to Vacant Stores details “the rise and fall of a luxury shopping district that grew out of workaday surroundings in the 1990s and has left empty storefronts in its wake.”
Once a quaint street, serving the local neighborhood with hardware stores, one-of-a-kind clothing shops, even pet stores, Bleecker Street was transformed into a high-end luxury shopping district with six Marc Jacobs boutiques in a four block stretch. The article notes that the stores served as billboards for brands, rather than a street offering “essential mix of businesses that makes a neighborhood function,” which is a comment we’ve also heard in recent years about the evolution of our own Larchmont Blvd.
As rents escalated and retail trends changed on Bleecker Street, the article says, luxury tenants began pushing back against exorbitant rents — some as high as $300 per square foot. The result today is a large number of vacancies now on Bleeker Street…while many landlords continue to hold out for higher rents, rather than lowering them by offering short-term leases for pop-ups or marketing to foreign brands who want a presence in the U.S.
The story of Bleeker Street is interesting and may (or may not) provide some insight into the future of Larchmont.
Also of interest is an opinion piece that appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times: “How to Fix LA’s Failed Parking Policies”, or perhaps better titled, “Believe it or not — We have too much parking!” According to the essay’s authors, Ethan N. Elkind, who researches environmental law at the UC Berkeley and UCLA Schools of Law, and Mott Smith, a director of the nonprofit Council of Infill Builders:
“The region now has 18.6 million spaces for 3.5 million housing units, or 3.3 spaces per vehicle. Even in areas that are considered the most parking-challenged — think Westwood or Hollywood — off-street spaces remain vacant even as curbsides fill up. There’s a mismatch between the parking we have and the parking we need.”
Elkind and Smith contend that poor policy decisions have resulted in more than 200 square miles of the city now dedicated to parking, while few residents would say it’s easy to find a place to park.
Elkind and Smith have released a new report, “Wasted Spaces: Options to Reform Parking Policy in Los Angeles,” which offers more detailed information on their recommendations to get parking right in the City of Los Angeles.