Tonight’s starter topic is retail blight:
If you want to see the future of storefront retailing, walk nine blocks along Broadway from 57th to 48th Street and count the stores. The total number comes to precisely one — a tiny shop to buy drones.
That’s right: On a nine-block stretch of what’s arguably the world’s most famous avenue, steps south of the bustling Time Warner Center and the planned new Nordstrom department store, lies a shopping wasteland. The same crisis blights the rest of Manhattan. The people invested in storefront retailing — real-estate developers, landlords and retail companies themselves — tell us not to worry.
But they are all wrong. Bricks-and-mortar retail is shrinking so swiftly and on such a wide scale, it’s going to require big changes in how we plan our new buildings and our cities — although nobody wants to admit it.