Friday, November 11, 2011

Chain stores flock to the Bronx

Another story from this week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press.

By Brendan McHugh 

The Bronx is slowly gaining the reputation as the last frontier for major development, with the 230th Street lot and the Kingsbridge Armory highlighted as some of the last major plots of land that could be developed for commercial use. 

In a recent study, national retailers are beginning to expand in the Bronx, more so than in most other boroughs. 

Chain store locations jumped 3.8 percent from 2010 in the Bronx, trailing only Queens at 5.8 percent growth. The amount of chain stores in Manhattan decreased by 2.1 percent. 

Jump below for the full story.

The overall rise of national retailers across the five boroughs slowed to a 1.6% increase in 2011, the smallest since the Center for an Urban Future began its retail survey four years ago. In 2010, the city’s chain-store population grew by 4%. 

The report released by the Center said the “sluggish economy may be finally catching up with chain stores in New York.” 

That could be a reason why store locations have actually increased in the Bronx; retailers are finding far less expensive land on the mainland. 

“The Bronx has been growing in our study for a couple years now and part of the reason as national retailers see the borough as an untapped opportunity to make some profit,” said Jonathan Bowles, director for the Center for an Urban Furture, the organization that conducted the study. 

He said that many national chains stayed away from the Bronx because of its negative stereotype of crime and poverty, but recent data has shown Bronxites are willing to spend money in their own borough. 

“A lot of people, they want the opportunity to buy the same types of things that people in Manhattan and in Westchester have,” Bowles said. 

The Target at 225th Street is the most successful Target in the nation, and the BJ’s Wholesale Club in the Gateway Center is the third most successful. 

But the Gateway Center hasn’t been all good news for the area. 

“The Gateway Center has had some impact on 3rd Avenue in that part of the Bronx,” Bowles said. “In many cases, the presence of chain stores has pushed up real estate prices that make it harder for independent stores to survive. 

Broken down by zip codes, the study found that Parkchester has 74 chain stores, the most in the Bronx, while Pelham Bay Park/City Island has only two, the least in the borough. In comparison, every other borough has at least one zip code with at least 143 chain stores. 

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who represents Riverdale (seven chain stores), Woodlawn (8) and Kingsbridge (46), said he likes chain stores, when appropriate. 

“It depends on what type of chain store,” he said, adding that he only sees them appropriate when they add to the surrounding commercial strip rather than intruding on a neighboring Mom & Pop store.
Bowles said the Bronx’s Mom & Pop’s aren’t going anywhere. 

“I think even though there have been real gains in chain stores in the Bronx, the Bronx is very much a borough of independent businesses.” 

Eighty-six retailers added locations in the city. Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t change from last year, but held on to its distinction as the company with the most New York City locations: 466 stores. Subway ranked second and inched closer to Dunkin’ Donuts, adding 41 new stores for a total of 430.

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