One of the engines of gentrification in Boerum Hill has decided to close its doors — because of, well, gentrification.
Blue Marble Ice Cream, which opened three years ago along then-hardscrabble Atlantic Avenue and helped usher in a new era of chi-chi coffee, shops, fashions, and cocktails, will close in October.
Dairy darlings Jennie Dundas and Alexis Miesen cited a rent hike by landlord Manuel Fernandez as the reason for the closure of the flagship location, which led to other freestanding parlors in Cobble Hill and Prospect Heights.
“It didn’t seem fair,” Dundas said. “He wants almost double the market value. We couldn’t sustain ourselves. Landlords are charging too much. In a two block radius, there is empty storefront after empty storefront. That’s not gentrification, that’s charging more than what businesses can afford.”
That said, the arch of Dundas and Miesen’s business is as common a story in New York as a late subway. Entrepreneurs have long opened in “sketchy” neighborhoods only to be priced out once the neighborhoods they built become attractive to more-established competition.
“When rent goes up, businesses like Trader Joe’s come in,” said Sarah Michelson, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation. “[Big stores like that] can drive away small businesses.”
It’s especially difficult in difficult times, said Sue Wolfe, president of the Boerum Hill Association.
“Landlords don’t understand that this is going to be a tough time for retail stores,” Wolfe said. “In my opinion, if the landlord was smart, he would consider keeping a good tenant at a lower price rather than having an empty store for a year or more.”
Of course, it’s hardest on the fans.
“This is my granddaughter’s favorite place to have ice cream. And mine, too,” said Sarah Lamstein, a regular. “This makes me so sad.”
Notes left on the landlord Fernandez’s door were not answered.
For now, there are two freestanding Blue Marble locations and carts that are deployed to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, and the Brooklyn Flea.
Blue Marble’s demise was first blogged by Brownstoner, which got an e-mail from Dundas.
Blue Marble Ice Cream [186 Underhill Ave. between Sterling and St. Johns places in Prospect Heights, (718) 399-6926]; [196 Court St. between Congress and Warren streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 858-0408]; [420 Atlantic Ave. between Nevins and Bond streets in Boerum Hill, (718) 858-1100] (for now!).