East Village Gated Community

Earlier this week, this came to me:

If you step back for a second, and don’t think about 7‑Eleven in itself (the garish façade, Slurpees), and think instead about the goals of No 7‑Eleven NYC — defining an area wherein businesses only of a certain type are permitted to exist — you will quickly see that the types of businesses that will thrive, given the fact that rents will continue to rise, will be expensive boutiques/restaurants/etc. No 7‑Eleven NYC has as its inevitable end the “gating” of the East Village. It’s a revanche effort, after years of gentrification have made the neighborhood appealing to larger corporations. They seek to preserve this area for a wealthy elite, there’s no question about this. They ride on the backs of bodega owners, but they will quickly discard them when the opportunity arises.

Believe me, I do not relish appearing to defend 7‑Eleven, or chain stores in general, but the way things are going there are only two outcomes: a neighborhood filled with chain stores (it’s half-way there already); or a neighborhood filled with quaint boutiques that only the wealthy can afford. No 7‑Eleven NYC does not seek to stop, let alone reverse, “whitewashing the community”. It aims to carefully direct it.

Welcome to the East Village Gated Community.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. joe
    Mar 02, 2013 @ 11:05:01

    There certainly seems to be a cycle. Local businesses catering to working class neighbors make way for boutiques, cafes, and restaurants catering to a higher rent crowd. Then the appearance of chains, Starbucks, K-Mart, 7-Eleven. Starbucks with its free wi-fi certainly appeals to a particular kind of consumer, one closer in profile to the cafe crowd then the target consumer of 7-Eleven or K-Mart. Perhaps the latter represent a suburbanization of the city since they are outlets more associated with malls or strip development. Whatever the case it is a change from the previous local culture and understandably gives rise to fears of a crass commercialization of the neighborhood.

  2. rob hollander
    Mar 07, 2013 @ 06:01:18

    Commercial rents rise only if there’s a market for the space. Corporate stores can pay higher rents (even subsidising an inflated rent, in a corporate strategy of cornering a market), so landlords hold out for them. That’s how corporate stores raise rents. So any restriction on corporate stores should lower rents.

    Will high-end boutiques be next? Possibly, but not necessarily. Two new stores just opened on Ave C btwn 11&12, one a bodega, the other a deli (a bit more upscale, but far from a boutique). We have not seen luxury commerce around 11&A –mostly bars, restaurants, cafes, pizza places.

    I’m not sure why you think NO 7-Eleven would welcome boutiques or would be willing to throw the bodega owners under the bus. Many of the No 7-Eleven members moved to 11th btwn A&C in the 1970′s to enjoy the funk and abandonment, and many are renters without any real estate interest. One actually owns a store in the neighborhood, a children’s clothing exchange — sort of a thrift shop for parents, a far cry from any kind of upscale commerce. I think you are unfairly attributing intent to some possible unintended consequences, and the unintended consequences aren’t necessary.

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