Is Ridge out of business?

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Now that the people of Bay Ridge are done opening their presents, maybe they can open some new stores. A casual walk along Third and Fifth avenues reveals that more than 30 storefronts are closed and empty.

And some of them have been like this for well over a year! In a neighborhood with three business improvement districts, 30-plus closed stores is not acceptable.

What can you do, said Basil Capetanakis, local real estate broker and vice president of the Fifth Avenue BID: “Business, no matter where you go, has slowed down.”

Of course, there are still plenty of quality establishments in Bay Ridge that are vibrant with customers and sales.

Some businesses have been around for generations — at least one, Kruchkow’s Shoes on Fifth Avenue between 78th and 79th streets, has just celebrated its 100th anniversary! And some newer businesses — like Third Avenue’s Little Cupcake Bakeshop and the Spa & Wellness Center — have even taken creative environmentally friendly initiatives to “go green” with their products and source of electricity.

According to Capetanakis, right now Bay Ridge is ahead of the game compared to years ago — when there were 30 empty storefronts on Fifth Avenue alone!

“It was scary!” says Capetanakis.

But a time when the national economy is showing signs of strain and Brooklyn’s centers of entertainment and shopping are re-defining themselves, one wonders if a new bogeyman is around the corner.

“Now you’ve got Smith Street and Park Slope to compete with,” says long-time Bay Ridge business owner Barry O’Donovan, who recently sold Henry Grattan’s on Third Avenue between 88th and 89th streets to start a business venture in New Jersey. “Bay Ridge doesn’t have the foot traffic it used to.”

Capetanakis says that the amount of business turnover has been relatively steady in the past few years, while admitting that in some cases rents might be too high to encourage new businesses from starting up. Still, he is confident that the BIDs can improve the situation by advertising more and cleaning up the streets.

Closed-down and long-empty stores hurt everyone. It means reduced tax revenue for the government, less rent for building owners, fewer jobs for workers, and fewer choices for consumers.

And they’re ugly, too.

Hopefully, 2008 will see more of Bay Ridge open for business. We can’t afford the alternative.

Joe Jordan is a freelancer writer and third-generation Bay Ridgite.

The Kitchen Sink

Wow, our item a few weeks ago about state Sen. Marty Golden aide John Quaglione possibly throwing his hat in the next city council race as a Republican contender really got tongues wagging in Bay Ridge. One reader claimed that Quaglione “will not get Republican support” since he is registered with the Conservatives, not the GOP. When asked for comment, the famed John Q said, “Many successful Republican candidates have received the support of the Conservative Party, so why can’t a Conservative receive the support of the Republican Party? If I decide to run for any elective office, it is about service to our neighborhood and not to a party.” Spoken like a true candidate! …

Congrats to our pals at Tanoreen and La Maison du Couscous, who just ended up on Time Out NY’s “100 best things we ate in 2007.” Of course, we’ve been singing their praises for years! …

What the El? Local historian Larry Stelter just published an expanded second edition of his “By the El — Third Avenue and Its El at Mid-Century,” which is full of great stories and photos of New York City’s bygone subways of the sky. …

It’s been decades since the last one, but Bay Ridge just had one of its own ordained as a Roman Catholic priest last weekend. Our pal Dermot Roache, 36, a parishioner at St. Anselm and former teacher at IS 278, will be a missionary in Kenya. …

Mulchfest ’08 — Better than ever! The Parks and Sanitation departments invite you to drop off the ol’ tannenbaum at either Owls Head Park on 68th Street or Shore Road Park on 79th Street on Jan. 5 and 6 between 10 am and noon. Otherwise, leave the tree on your curb between Jan 3 and 16. Just don’t forget to take off the decorations.

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Reader Feedback

Lucretia Regina-Potter Republican District Leade from 49th Assembly District says:
As the Republican District Leader of the 49th Assembly District, I agree with the findings of the article "Is Ridge out of business?". Some time ago, I remember discussing this problem with some residents and business owners of my district in Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Boro Park. The same problem exists in these areas, and I strongly believe that some major economic incentives need to be enacted to promote small business and facilitate their growth. I will like to take this opportunity to strongly urge all elected public officials to take forceful measures to correct this economic stagnation in our beautiful neighborhoods.
Lucretia Regina-Potter
Republican District Leader 49th AD
January 21, 2008
Jan. 21, 2008, 6:23 pm

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