The Ever Changing Village
Washington Square Park will be the last park in NYC to get renovated. If some of the locals get there way, it will be the only park never to get renovated.
I have always loved change. Good change is certainly better than bad change but that is a judgment call. Washington Square Park is old and tired. It is in desperate need of repairs and changes. Bringing the park into the 21st Century. People are so tied to the old that they have a hard time wrapping themselves around the new. Adrian Benepe, the head of the Parks Department is probably crawling the walls.
Let’s walk up a few blocks to 8th Street in the heart of the village. For years, 8th street was the shoe street. Funky groovy stores filled with customers. Now, 8th street is empty. The majority of the stores have either closed or about to close. There are literally "to let" signs on every window. Yet, Bleeker street, just a few blocks away is rocking. Why? Because they have changed with the times.
There are plenty of people in the village who are aghast of what has happened on Bleeker Street. No longer the granola stores of the 70’s but Ralph Lauren, Intermix, Olive and Bettes, Marc Jacobs, and some high end stores from Europe. These stores are packed on the weekends and during the week. The rents might have gone up too much for the old store owners but the new store owners have appealed to the new downtown locals and they are paying their rents.
I am not making a statement that the new stores are better than the old. Lots of people are really upset about what has happened. But, change is underway. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what is happening in the village and react to it. Real estate has become so expensive that it has brought in a whole new clientele.
My prediction is that 8th street will eventually wake up. Even now, Broadway Panhandler and Witchcraft has just moved in to space on 8th Street and Broadway. These 2 stores will slowly affect the rest of 8th street going West. Thank god. The owners need tenants and the village needs the customers. It creates a vibrancy that we need.
I hope that this is noted to the Commission that is looking at Washington Square Park. Let the changes take place. The village has always been progressive. If the old timers consider themselves so progressive and changers of the 60’s or 70’s or 80’s, then wake up and get into the 21st Century. Don’t hold us back.
8th Street is vacant by design. The landlords are aiming for a step up in tenant quality and are “warehousing” vacant space for soho spillover.
Your Bleeker St reference is a little unfair because the big changes on Blleker (like MJacobs) are west of 7th Ave., where Bleeker is sanwiched in the West Village not south of the park.
And the park fight does center (pun intended) around some solid issues like why spend our money to move the fountain five feet south?
How about getting NYU to kick in a few bucks for their free quad?