The Daily Dirt: Is the corner store a NYC institution or a neighborhood killer?

Why City Council struck small-business provision from City of Yes

Daily Dirt: Why City Council Killed Plan for Corner Stores
Inset: Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute (Getty; Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Who’s afraid of a corner store?

More New Yorkers than you might think. Their objections were strong enough to cause the City Council to remove a provision from the mayor’s City of Yes for Economic Opportunity allowing corner stores in residential neighborhoods.

Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute explained the fears in the New York Post:

“Will the store attract people to hang out outside, eating their snacks, drinking beer, smoking pot and talking loudly at all hours? Will the store do a delivery business? Then it’s going to become home base for e-bike delivery workers … who are also playing music and talking loudly at all hours.”

She added, “Uses will also clash if you’re a small law firm that finds itself next to the all-day dance club with loud music, or the mom living below the dog kennel (woof, woof).”

It’s hard not to sense a bit of hysteria there. What dance club is even open all day? If a knitting shop opens on a corner in Dyker Heights, will beer-drinking tokers hang out in front?

As for dog kennels, are the labradoodles of Dogtopia really bothering the renters upstairs at Madison Realty Capital’s Posthouse? The 143-unit Myrtle Avenue building is fully occupied, but for one unit, a one-bedroom that rents for $4,200 a month. Seems unlikely there’s a barking problem.

Gelinas’ point was that the city doesn’t enforce its noise ordinance and other rules well, so it shouldn’t risk bringing problems to new areas. However, let’s look at the big picture: The city already has thousands of corner stores with people living above them, next door or around the corner.

For the most part, this works pretty well. One might even say the corner store is iconic — a New York institution.

In another blow to real estate in the City of Yes revisions, the Council extracted a promise from the Adams administration to require special permits for last-mile warehouses. Expect a race to do projects before the regulation kicks in.

What we’re thinking about: Does overall truck traffic increase, decrease or stay the same when internet retailers open more last-mile delivery hubs? Or is that simply determined by how much stuff people are ordering? Email me at eengquist@therealdeal.com.

A thing we’ve learned: Developer Robert Levine grew up in Flatbush (by the intersection below) during the 1950s and started what became RAL Properties in 1979. He told TRD publisher Amir Korangy in 2021 that he never stopped going to the office during the pandemic and had long ago canceled plans to retire. One downside to his job, in his words: “Every developer is perceived as someone trying to take advantage of the community in some fashion.”

Kings Highway and East 29th Street, where developer Robert Levine grew up in the 1950s.

Elsewhere…

— New York-based Voltpost is working on turning streetlight poles into electric-vehicle chargers. It has already started a pilot project in the city and another in Detroit. “We need citywide solutions, before people start to take matters into their own hands by running wires out their windows,” co-founder and COO Luke Mairo told Canary Media. (Some have already done that.) The city did its own pilot using equipment from Flo, but dealing with underground infrastructure ran up the cost per charger to a ridiculous $250,000.

— Would you prefer to live above a supermarket? New research says yes, if it’s a premium grocer such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. A report by RLCLO found the average rent premium in buildings with such stores on the ground floor is 5 percent to 6 percent, and ranges from 0 percent to 14 percent. A densification trend has led some developers to replace single-use, suburban supermarkets (the kinds where you don’t have to squeeze past other shoppers in the aisles) with mixed-use projects.

Closing time

Residential: The priciest residential sale Thursday was $13.3 million for a 3,300-square-foot co-op unit at 88 Central Park West on the Upper West Side. Ann Cutbill Lenane of Douglas Elliman had the listing. 

Commercial: The largest commercial sale of the day was $14.5 million for two apartment buildings at 472 and 474 Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side. The combined properties have 41 residential units and 31,000 square feet.

New to the Market: The highest price for a residential property hitting the market was $105 million for an 8,255-square-foot condominium at 432 Park Avenue in Midtown East. Lila Nejad and Noble Black of Douglas Elliman have the listing. 

Breaking Ground: The largest new building application filed was for a 65,000-square-foot charter school at 4263 Third Avenue in the Bronx. — Matthew Elo