Property Grunt

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Thoughts on the Bowery

Yesterday the Grunt received an email from Jessica from The Village Voice containing a series of articles mourning the death/transformation of the Bowery. The Voice did a fantastic job chronicling the end of an era that has been in the works for quite sometime. Below are the articles.

The Last Days of Loserville: An Elegy for the Bowery Once home to hustlers, drunks, and bohemians, America's slummiest streetis turning into real estate gold. Up and down the northern end of the Bowery, luxury apartment buildings are shooting up over the low-risethoroughfare like iron weeds, erasing all traces of the hard-luck

Joy Press laments the demise of the Bowery, once America's
legendary slum, now a millionaire's row.

Robert Christgau listens to the vanished sounds of the street, where American pop music-from Monk to punk- began
Toni Schlesinger takes a stroll with Mose, the Bowery's
19th-century superhero.

Danial Adkison reports on the future of the endangered Liz Christy Garden.
Darren Reidy searches for a place to flop on the remnants of
skid row.

The Grunt treats the lower east side like certain vacation spots. Nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. But the Grunt is aware that it does have a character of its own that attracts a multitude of people. The apartments that were available were usually not the nicest or the cheapest. It was a pain in the proverbial butt to walk down and the trains were never nearby the apartment that the Grunt needed to show.

Grunt remembers two clients who wanted a two bedroom in the Bowery area. The Grunt found the perfect walkup by the tenement museum. It was basically a railroad apartment but the entrance opened up in the middle of the apartment and the bedrooms were at each end while the kitchen was in the living space between the two rooms. The clients moaned about not having a real living room for a tv but I argued that they would be too busy barhopping and meeting girls to watch tv. The landlord pointed it out the layout was ideal for two single men because it allowed them to entertain the ladies with relative privacy since the bedrooms were not next to each other.

There was one apartment in the Bowery that was a huge sunny two bedroom that could fit at least 4 people if you got creative and became a very popular spot during the summer because a ton of brokers would show up leading their clients like the pied pipers we were. What really sucked was when the keys never worked and we had to walk our carcasses back to the office while apologizing profusely to our clients.

What I am curious about is the row of restaurant supply stores that are on the Bowery near Avalon at Chrystie Place. I foresee they will share the same fate of the Fulton Fish market which is they will be moved to the Bronx or a really scary part of Brooklyn. Unless they are landmarked or the air rights have already been purchased that property is a prime target for redevelopment. All it takes is a very wealthy developer with the necessary connections and the hard hats will be broken out.

I think the Bowery's final destination can be summed up by this quote:

As Chinatown historian Peter Kwong says, "This is a city that's very pragmatic. A new group comes and wipes out the old. That's always been the case in New York—but of course it's not always a good thing."