Monday, May 4, 2009
Kew Gardens "Ponte Vecchio" and Landmark Status - Part II
Nasty, gray, rainy day! Even more so for several businesses atop Kew Garden's "Ponte Vecchio" who, each and every rainy day for the last several years, are busy covering their products up so they don't get wet. Not strange, right? Well it is when you are covering up your products inside of your business! This is a ritual for the wine store on the north-east side of the bridge and when you walk in on a wet day like today the majority of their stock is covered by clear plastic sheets, dribbling water onto the soaked, cardboard covered floor. The business owner says that the actual owner of the building, the MTA, has been telling him for years that they will repair the botched roof job that years ago underwent an attempt at repair, in 20 degree weather, which, for roofers, is a big no-no. The wine shop is surprisingly still paying rent and has not caused a big stir about the problems, though potentially very costly and lethal if the aged roof were to finally cave in. As reported in our post of the same title several weeks ago, this bridge is in dire condition, and more so than I had known at the time of writing the first article. A portion of the art deco concrete facade that lines the top of the businesses on the east side of the bridge has fallen off and now blares an ominous looking gape right above the bagel shop. Will it take a slab of concrete falling off and injuring someone or a roof collapse before the MTA decides to knuckle down and make the fix? Let's hope not.... Apparently the MTA has put together a proposal for new management of the bridge which includes a hefty deposit of a reported $300,000 and a commitment for major capital improvement including outdoor seating and lighting. This is great and everyone wants to see this landmark restored to the original splendor it deserves, but businesses and residents have concerns that if this proposal finds a bidder that actually completes the work, will the businesses already there be able to continue to afford the likely rent increase or will they be forced to vacate due to the MTA's long term neglect of the bridge? I would like to see new and improved shops on the bridge and I think that it would be a major draw for myself and people all over NYC but at the same time I am a supporter of original local business. Although several of the businesses on the bridge just don't seem to be valuable to the community, neither viable if rent was to increase, and may just become casualties of the bridge's gentrification. My advice to those businesses - shape up, make your business a valuable part of the community and if the above mentioned plans to restore the bridge ever come to fruition you will be able to advance your tenure as a popular local business, or else get ready for Duane Reade, The Gap, Trader Joes, fill in the blank, to commandeer your spot.