Seven up or down? Slope’s Main Street is in flux

Hot ‘Corner’! Beloved diner really is just doing renovations!
The Brooklyn Paper / Tyler Waugh

Seventh Avenue is a commercial strip in flux.

Along Park Slope’s main business spine — running from Flatbush Avenue to 15th Street — there are 27 storefronts empty or in transition.

Commercial strips undergo periodic turnovers, but few Slopers have seen the neighborhood’s prime shopping street in such a state of transition in recent years.

Here are some of the changes taking place recently:

• Cohen’s Optical opened near Seventh Street in what was formerly a gynecologist’s office.

• Big Apple Cleaners has opened between Fourth and Fifth Streets, replacing Knotting Slope, a knitting supply store.

• A new Turkish restaurant called Istanbul has opened in place of the defunct NoNo Kitchen near Seventh Street.

• The Cabinet Shop on the corner of Eighth Street has closed.

• Chickadee Chick, a fast-food-like poultry purveyor, is coming soon near First Street.

• The Laundromat that stood on the corner of Eighth Street for decades is being renovated and will open as a seafood restaurant this fall.

• Ha Na Bi, the Japanese-Peruvian restaurant at First Street, and the Grecian Corner diner, at Fourth Street, are undergoing renovations. Both claim they will reopen.

• Elementi, an Italian restaurant near Garfield Street that replaced the decades-old Snooky’s Pub only last year, has shut. A “For Rent” sign in the window hawks the location as suitable for another restaurant.

Little D Eatery near 15th is gone, and a Mexican restaurant called Fonda, owned by Chef Roberto Santibanez of the Rosa Mexicano restaurants in Manhattan, is moving in.

Seen in total, an empty storefront nowadays is most likely to become a restaurant, though not necessarily a high-end one.

This could be because rents are dropping. Steve Sommers, a real-estate broker in the neighborhood, said that rents over the past few years had been higher than they should have been.

“It was a bubble, but now all the hot air is getting let out,” said Sommers.

Lower rents favor restaurants, which could explain why there are at least 60 restaurants between Flatbush Avenue and 15th Street. And more are coming.

John Burke, another Slope real-estate broker, said restaurants are about the only new business applications he receives.

“I have stacks of applications, pizza parlors, and such,” said Burke.

Burke said food spaces are going for more than nonfood spaces but are down to $4,500 a month from $5,500 a month three years ago.

Some residents aren’t pleased by the changes, of course.

“There are a million eyeglass stores, Asian restaurants, and chicken places,” said Dolores Phelan, a resident of Park Slope for 25 years. “It has lost the charm it used to have.”

Maybe, but Igor Latman, an employee at Video Gallery near Eighth Street, said there is one main conclusion to be drawn about Seventh Avenue: “People like to eat here!” he said.

The Brooklyn Paper / Tyler Waugh