Wall Street Journal on the Demise of Bowery Lighting District

Posted on: August 9th, 2011 at 6:28 am by

The Wall Street Journal picked up a story we’ve been closely following for years here at Boogie HQ.  That of the last gasp of the Bowery lighting district.  We know that the lighting industry here isn’t quite dead yet, but all signs in the neighborhood point to its demise.

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Here are some excerpts:

Store owners point to gentrification, the downturn in the local housing market and the rise of online shopping, which have all taken a toll on their businesses.

A rough census tells the story of decline. In 2000, about 30 lighting stores lined the Bowery south of Houston Street. A pair of closures earlier this year brought that number down to around 20, and at least two more retailers plan an exit soon.

The corridor has become home to condos, art galleries and edgy boutiques in recent years — along with an influx of real-estate development.

“In the last 10 years, more buildings have been built on the Bowery than in any other decade,” said Kerri Culhane, an architectural historian who has documented the area’s recent development. Of the 241 buildings currently standing on the Bowery, she said more than 10% are new construction.

That has meant higher rents for most tenants, including the lighting merchants. Forrest estimates that average retail rents have more than doubled in the last decade, jumping from roughly $30 to $50 per square foot to $100.

Most notable is the report about Bowery Interiors Lite Elite at 148 Bowery which has been threatening closure for over a year.

But he [industry fixture David Cohen] says it will close within a month and the space will likely be converted into a restaurant or coffee shop.

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