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Famous Astoria staple Steinway Street shopping corridor struggling to maintain business

One of the many vacant storefronts in Steinway Street

Hard times

For the last ten years or so, Astoria has been steadily becoming a super interesting community filled to the brim with interesting aspects to it. From a middle-class community into a cosmopolitan neighborhood, this area offers anything you may want: the housing is still affordable and is very close to the city. The community is very diverse and there are many food options. Nevertheless, a classic Astoria staple has proven to be struggling to keep up with the times: the Steinway Street shopping corridor.

For the last few generations, this shopping corridor has offered Astoria’s residents a combination of fast food, chain retail and discount stores. Even though it still is a busy area, many owners struggle to maintain their business open and many storefronts are often vacant. Property owners have difficulty keeping up with the rising rents and taxes and with the changes in the community.

An analysis of the problem

The vice-president of Marcus & Millichap, Scott Plasky, is a retail specialist and can analyze this strange phenomenon. Despite still being considered “a thriving area”, this year saw 17 vacant storefronts. This is a very worrisome occurrence, for both owners and developers interested in the area. According to Plasky, though many young folk live in Astoria, they still choose to spend their money in Manhattan. Nevertheless, Steinway Street still has hope. The retailers need to take a step back and analyze the situation in a manner that ends up being beneficial to both them and costumers.

Everything seems to indicate that the folk at Steinway are heeding the warnings. Tony Barsamian, who is the chairman of the Steinway Astoria Partnership, claims the group has started to embellish the area with trees and benches. Furthermore, they want to establish a “community gathering spot” so individuals will be able to host events in the premises. For Barsamian, the main problem for Steinway Street is how high the property taxes are. They have also ensured to take this up with the area’s authorities, so everything may be looking up soon.

Moreover, the partnership is aware that stores that are owned independently have been successful in other parts of Astoria because they are able to offer unique clothing and accessories. Because of this, Barsamian maintains that the Steinway Astoria Partnership is open to the possibility of welcoming a retailer that would use the street as a test market. As we can see, the people in charge are doing everything within their power to save Steinway Street.

In addition, Barsamian has emphasized Astoria’s fame as “food capital of the world”. For him, this is what will eventually bring people back to the neighborhood, so they are hoping to capitalize on this quality. This is not a far-fetched idea, at all. Astoria offers more than 100 different cuisines.

A success story

For example, Mackenzi Farquer is a business owner that has found success in the area. She owns three stores: Lockwood Paper, Lockwood Style and the original Lockwood. These stores specialize in different things: notebooks and pens, clothing and décor and home goods, respectively. She opened her first store back in 2013, and could not be happier with the response from the public. According to her, sales have done nothing but go up since she first opened. One of her stores is on Broadway, near the N train.

A hopeful future

For the folks over at Steinway Street, nevertheless, the goal remains the same: they want people to spend and shop locally, taking advantage of the many amenities the neighborhood has to offer, like the diverse cuisine and the art district. [AM New York]