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Main Street 2019: Why It Never Gets Better On Roosevelt Island


Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail 2019

Promises kept or the same old song…?

Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail 2019 — same old song or something better? Has Hudson Related lived up to its promises, finally, this year?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

by David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

An encore of an encore of an encore…

I’ve covered Hudson Related’s Shops On Main efforts since Hudson president David Kramer met with the community in 2011. His group had just signed a management deal with RIOC to fix Main Street’s failing retail corridor.

“We’re going to shock and awe,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 2011.

Roosevelt Island Main Street April 2020
Shock and awe? More like shock and aw…

We gave up on that silly promise, long ago, but each year we hope that we’ll at least see major improvements. As we reported at the end of 2018, what we’ve consistently got were promises while storefronts remain vacant and existing businesses struggle.

Was 2019 different for Roosevelt Island’s Main Street Retail?

In October, Kramer offered RIOC’s board a state of Main Street retail update. As we reported at the time, it was suspicious, rife with flakey claims and outright falsehoods.

Rule of thumb: When you’re doing well, you don’t have to make shit up.

What did Kramer make up?

The most blatant was a claim made while talking about the space Urgent Care abruptly abandoned, last spring. (Neither Urgent Care nor Hudson Related revealed what happened.)

Telling the board why he believes the space, now partially filled by the practices of Doctors Jack Resnick and Kathy Grimm, should be home to a fuller service medical facility, Kramer said a community of 14,000 ought to have one.

Kramer knows — because I told him — that Roosevelt Island doesn’t have 14,000 residents, never has and never will. That’s a marketing gimmick we debunked, and it was annoying to hear a smart guy who runs a successful corporation pitching it.

It was equally disappointing to see RIOC’s ultra passive board sit there without any objection.

Aren’t they supposed to, you know… govern?

Let’s go to the video…

But you don’t have to take it from me. Here’s Kramer in a video posted by the Roosevelt Islander.

More folderol about Main Street retail..

Shops On Main, as any casual observer sees every day — and has since 2011 — is as peppered with vacant storefronts as it ever was. Yet, as he does every year, Kramer boasts about Hudson Related’s success in revitalizing Main Street.

Main Street, he claimed, sported only a single venue not spoken for, plus one-half of Urgent Care’s abandoned facility.

So, allow us to offer these in evidence…

Main Street Retail, Former Stationery Store
On October 8th, Kramer told RIOC’s sleepy board that this space, last occupied by the stationery store he evicted, was spoken for. But over two months later, in the heart of the Main Street canyon, it’s still “available.”
Roosevelt Island News: Shops On Main, 2019
503 Main Street, as closed as it’s ever been. Announced as signed in 2017, Kramer said this location would open as Café Eleanor “by the end of the year.” I finally did open, in 2021… as a high end butcher.
Main Street Retail, Jax Schott's planned yoga studio
A yoga studio operated by popular local instructor Jax Schott, jointly announced in March, Hudson Related says will open in January. But by autumn 2020, it remained inactive. And still is, two more years later.
Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail 2019, vacant storefront
The former home of Main Street Sweets and, more recently, Bubble Cool, has been vacant since spring when Bubble Cool went bottoms up. It’s the single vacancy Kramer admits to.
Former home of Riverwalk Bar & Grill. Kramer said it will open in the spring as Granny Annie’s, and credit where credit’s due, if finally happened at the end of summer in 2020.

Main Street Retail 2019 Conclusion

2019 saw some successes. PupCulture, with its public window into a doggie playroom, is a welcome addition to Main Street, and Liukoushui Hot Pot, after a badly fumbled launch, runs smoothly.

But promises still outnumber fulfillments, after eight years now. And the new spaces, at best, balance the losses of Urgent Care and Bubble Cool.

2019 was more of the same, including fabulous boasts that seldom produce results.

Nothing about 2020 inspires optimism — except for Foodtown replacing Gristedes — but wouldn’t it be great if Hudson Related really did pull off a little shock and awe?

How about just a lively spark? We’re almost ready to settle for that.

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