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February 2017
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Archive for 'small retail'

New at Urban Center Books:
The Disappearing Face of New York

A visual tour so saturated with realism you can smell the knishes neatly displayed in the window of the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, a visual tour comprised of hundreds of images of unique 19th and 20th-century retail graphics and neon signs still in use and inspiring us to purchase to this very day. But for how long? New book Store Front:The Disappearing Face of New York asks the question: are New York City’s local merchants a dying breed, or an enduring group of diehards hell-bent on retaining the traditions of a glorious past? According to authors Jim and Karla Murray, the influx of big box retailers and chain stores poses a serious threat to these humble institutions, and neighborhood modernization and the anonymity it brings are replacing the unique appearance and character of what were once incredibly colorful streets. Continue Reading>>

Support Your Local Bookstore This Saturday

book cover paperback dreamsIn New York on a five-city tour, documentary filmmaker, Alex Beckstead screened “Paperback Dreams” in Soho last week. His new film follows two landmark Bay Area independent bookstores — Cody’s Books in Berkeley and Kepler’s Books in San Mateo — and their struggle to survive in a rapidly changing media landscape. Both stores played a central role in the free speech movement and the culture of the 1960’s because of their proximity to college campuses. The film tells a compelling and cautionary tale about the ups and downs of running great bookstores and the value they bring to their communities. During a question and answer period after the film a few New York booksellers weighed in on the state of independents in the city. Gotham Book Mart and Coliseum Books were two New York landmarks that could not survive in the current market (on a positive note, Archivia has reopened — and Idlewild, specializing in travel books, recently opened near Union Square). Cultural landmarks like Cody’s or Gotham, can be seen as a permanent part of the landscape, but the book-loving public often fails to realize how big a struggle it is for stores to survive. It is important for people to be aware of where books are bought and to understand that these transactions are connected to the shape of their communities and quality of life. When a bookstore is thriving, it can be an integral part of the intellectual and cultural life of a community. The “Paperback Dreams” program was sponsored by the Independent Booksellers of New York and McNally Jackson Books. Celebrate “America Unchained Day” on Saturday, November 22, by shopping at  Urban Center Books – the Municipal Art Society’s book store – or your local independent bookstore.

Hate Walmart, But Love Trader Joes?

Earlier this week, at the MAS panel discussion Solutions for Preserving New York’s Neighborhood Businesses, experts and New Yorkers pondered this and many other complex questions that relate to the increasing threat chain stores and banks are presenting to the survival of local business in the city. Click on the ‘play’ icon above to watch a short video summary of the program and (below) tell us what you think are the causes and solutions to this problem. Continue Reading>>

Greenpoint Manufacturing & Design Center, A Place that Matters

greenpoint manufacturing design center Greenpoint Manufacturing & Design Center (GMDC) – the premier not-for-profit industrial developer in New York City – was one of ten New York City places honored by Place Matters at its tenth anniversary and awards ceremony in May of this year. GMDC, located at 1155 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was celebrated for creating a vital gathering space. The organization has rehabilitated five vacant North Brooklyn manufacturing buildings for occupancy by small manufacturing enterprises, and a historic spinning house is currently in the process of restoration. Rehabilitation of these buildings has made more than 700,000 square feet of space available for 100-plus tenants, triggering the preservation and creation of over 500 blue collar jobs. Continue Reading>>

Bank Branches Will Close

washington mutual bank branchThe merging of banks will result in the shuttering of several branches throughout the city, says the New York Times.  The bank branch, ubiquitous in many parts of the city, has been viewed as the major perpetrator of replacing small, locally owned business and ruining active and vibrant streetscapes, along with chain pharmacies and Starbucks.  MAS is hosting a panel on preserving local retail Monday, October 6. The proposed rezoning of Flatbush, Brooklyn will soon be certified by the Department of City Planning, says YourNabe. In anticipation of the rezoning, MAS helped lead Imagine Flatbush 2030 last year,  a community effort to create a neighborhood sustainability and livability agenda.  Read more about the current status of Imagine Flatbush here. In other news, the Port Authority released their new report with timetables and goals for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Continue Reading>>

MAS to Host Panel on Preserving Neighborhood Businesses

cobble hill smith street small businessThe proliferation of chain stores and bank branches is an increasing threat to the character of diverse neighborhoods throughout New York City.  By highlighting successful innovations that have been adopted in other cities and exploring the distinct pressures faced by business owners, this program aims to provide local merchants, community members, and municipal representatives with tools and strategies to safeguard small-scale retail, drive economic development, and establish a constituency pushing for policy reform. Solutions for Preserving New York’s Neighborhood Businesses Monday, October 6, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. At the West Side Institutional Synagogue, 120 West 76th Street at Columbus Avenue, MAP FREE, but reservations are strongly recommended. RSVP online or call 212 935 2075. Advance ticket purchase is available until 3:00 p.m. the day of for programs that are not sold-out. Attendees are advised to arrive fifteen minutes prior to the event start time, as late seating is not guaranteed. Those without reservations will be admitted, space permitting, on a first-come, first-served basis. Continue Reading>>

Paterson bemoans slow progress at Ground Zero

ground zero construction nightGovernor Paterson spoke about the slow progress at the World trade Center site to the New York Times editorial and news staff, stating his intention to discuss the dismantling of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with Mayor Bloomberg. Read recent news about the rebuilding of ground zero here. In other news, the landmark Childs Restaurant Building in Coney Island has been defaced… Continue Reading>>

New York City Independent Booksellers Join Forces

The Municipal Art Society’s Urban Center Books helped launch the newly formed Independent Booksellers of New York City this past weekend at the Brooklyn Book Festival, celebrating this new alliance that promotes independent bookstores across the city with a map and a website. Independent bookstores contribute greatly to the city’s rich character and long tradition of book-selling by providing shelf space for voices that might not otherwise find a home and by serving as venues for the presentation of important works and new ideas. Recognizing the common opportunities, virtues and values they share, New York City’s independent booksellers have united to raise awareness of the contributions their stores make not just to the local economy, but to the literary and cultural fabric of the city. At a time when globalization threatens retail diversity and the publishing industry continues to consolidate, the role of the independent bookseller in guiding the reading public has never mattered more. In particular, the community-based shops of New York City – new and used, specialized and general – which constitute the largest concentration of independent book retail in the country. Continue Reading>>

Admiral’s Row and Manufacturing Land Threatened

Admirals Row MAS Option C IIDescribing MAS as a “civic group” advocating for the preservation of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, NY1 covers the ongoing debate over the future of the area on its website today, but does not mention the mid-August visioning session MAS convened with community representatives, architects, preservations, and other experts to explore alternatives to demolition of the historic buildings. MAS officially presented the outcomes of this visioning in the form of initial plans to the owners National Guard and future owners City of New York/Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation at a Section 106 meeting last week. This fall, MAS and local groups will continue to expand and enrich these alternative plans by presenting them to the public for feedback and input. For more news, Continue Reading>>

Big Box Stores in Brooklyn and David Byrne Bike Rack Designs

ikea red hookMAS Issues in the Press: – Brooklynites are enjoying the amenities associated with the new IKEA in Red Hook (New York Times). Two big box buy-in-bulk supermarkets are planned in Canarsie and Sunset Park, Brooklyn stirring fears among local markets owners that they will be undersold (New York Daily News). – While the design competition for new bike racks is still on, nine new designs by artist David Byrne are now visible throughout the city (New York Times). The public toilets in New York City have proven to be popular and profitable (New York Times). In an attempt to minimize advertising on building facades, a yoga studio has created an eco-ad on the Upper East Side (A Fine Blog via Curbed). – Despite some arguments that the plan is drawn along racial lines, local community groups are defending the proposed rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side (New York Times). – Amtrack ridership has increased, emphasizing the urgent need for the agency to update and add to its infrastructure. – A photographer’s collection of Manhattanville captures the current state of the neighborhood, which will change dramatically with Columbia University’s expansion (New York Times).

Controversial Middle School for DUMBO and Edward Hopper’s Cityscape Sketches on Display

willets point garagesMAS Issues in the Press: – A relocation site for Willets Point businesses says it will resist the City’s attempts to incorporate any more industrial companies into their neighborhood (Crain’s New York Business). In an effort to raise money, the MTA may start soliciting corporate sponsorship of subway stations in exchange for advertising space (AM New York) – The School Construction Authority is advocating for the placement of a middle school in a controversial proposed tower in DUMBO (New York Daily News). Governor Paterson has assembled an economic advisory panel led by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz (New York Sun). – Edward Hopper’s cityscape sketches are on view at the Craig F. Starr Gallery on Upper East Side this month (New York Sun).

Solar Empowerment Zones and Interest-Free Loans for Small Businesses

east river waterfront park rendering new york urban designMAS in the Press: Roland Lewis, President of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, is answering questions this week about the waterfront on the New York Times‘ City Blog; one in reference to the proposed East Side Waterfront Park. New Penn Station links to coverage of Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) a proposal that will create a new tunnel under the Hudson River that will connect to Penn Station. MAS Issues in the Press: – An alternative energy forum at the City Council today will discuss the possibility of solar empowerment zones, wherein groups of buildings would join together to reduce costs of upgrading to solar energy (New York Sun). – City officials launched their $750,000 program, in the form of grants and interest-free loans, to assist small and local businesses affected by the 125th Street Rezoning (New York Daily News). Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has come out in support for the proposed Willet’s Point rezoning, given the inclusion of more affordable housing (Crain’s New York Business). Continue Reading>>