Real Estates

Readers react to Eric Adams’ suggestion to “walk” 5th Avenue

In attacking Mayor Eric Adams’ plan to “pedestrianize” Fifth Avenue by widening sidewalks and reducing four car lanes to one last week, I warned that it could lead to a Times Square-like situation where pedestrian plazas are made for a poorer shopping environment while simultaneously enabling disorderly behavior and crime.

The return was immediate. One reader, “Uncle Sammy” suggested on that Fifth Avenue be used for “outdoor dining and outdoor gambling pop-ups.”

Less amusing were tweets from retail leasing specialist Steve Southendijk, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield and co-chair of the Real Estate Board of New York’s retail committee.

Soutendijk was furious about my work: “I have never seen anything so out of touch.” It was “borderline parody”, “drivel” and “dog whistling”.

He objected that I disparaged D Sports at 1466 Broadway, which replaced Forever 21 at the location, for selling mostly sneakers. I quipped that Times Square was losing its classic retail to “fast food and fast feet.”

Southendike tweeted that D Sports has 3,400 stores worldwide. I hope the soundtracks on the other 3399s also don’t feature, like at the Times Square location, a rap number called “Uber Everywhere” replete with multiple f-bombs and lyrics like “Shorti vanna kiss me but I knov she sucking dā€” .ā€

Armani 5th Avenue
Armani’s Fifth Avenue boutique.
LightRocket via Getty Images

Not everyone in retail agreed with Southendike’s view. Colliers vice president Bradley Mendelsohn, who handled the epic lease on both Times Square (Toys ‘R’ Us) and Fifth Avenue (Uniqlo), responded on Facebook to Adams’ Fifth Avenue scheme that the mayor “doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Mendelsohn, a longtime square skeptic, opined on Adams’ plan: “Why doesn’t he do what he should … clean up the trash, get rid of the rats instead of taking what’s already great and making it worse.”

Elmo in Times Square
Costumed characters, like Elmo, are part of Times Square.

The most unexpected support for my opinion came from the Chicago Tribune. An editorial calling for the revitalization of once-premier but now troubled Michigan Avenue cautions against turning the “Magnificent Mile” into a replica of what Adams has in mind for Fifth Avenue.

The paper was “skeptical about too many cold-weather pedestrian malls in big, high-crime cities.” It quoted my column: “To see the damage caused by these…so-called oases, you need go no further than Times Square.”

Fresh air from the windy city!

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