A long-cursed pair of Seventh Avenue storefronts destroyed in a fire six years ago are finally being demolished to make room for new retail — and the rumor is Petco.
Scaffolding now covers the storefronts, between Berkeley Place and Union Street, that once housed a fruit stand, the Middle Eastern restaurant Olive Vine, and the beloved Zuzu’s Petals, which moved to Fifth Avenue after the fire gutted the shop.
The block’s business owners and workers are gossiping that a Petco is moving in, but owner David Chemtob said he has not made a deal with any company.
“There are no plans yet for any specific retail store,” he added.
Chemtob bought the vacant storefronts in 2008 and had an ambitious plan to transform the one-story structures into a three-story, glass building with retail on the ground floor and apartments — kaching! — above.
But Chemtob cancelled the plan when a contract with the tenant fell through.
Chemtob no longer thinks bigger is better, saying that he hopes only to build a one-story retail store.
“It’s been difficult finding renters since the [recession] happened,” he said.
Several area retailers had heard the Petco rumor, but many just want their old flower shop back. “We were very close with Zuzu’s Petals,” said Linda Kemp, the manager at Leaf & Bean at 83 Seventh Ave, two doors down from the soon-to-be-demolished buildings. “It would be nice to have Zuzu’s here again, it was part of a nice community.”