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Why Won’t Bankers Set Up Shop On Main Street, Roosevelt Island?

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After failing at luring a bank for Main Street , Roosevelt Island, “We took them on tours,” RIOC president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes said. But why was that doomed? Take a virtual walk along with us, and see it through a bank vice president’s eyes.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Before setting off on our virtual tour of Main Street, Roosevelt Island, two items of note…

First, we decided on bank vice-presidents because, back when we had friends in banking, we learned that the industry was low on wages and high on titles. Vice presidents were everywhere; so, they’re a fit.

Second, for our purposes here, Main Street is the traditional canyon, where one bank or another always served residents until Amalgamated closed up shop, last year.

And the problem we have is that, after conducting a tour or tours, RIOC’s now picked Sportspark, well south of 90% of the population as ideal for local banking.

Everyone generally agrees that Sportspark is a poor choice for a bank. Everyone outside RIOC’s brainstrust, that is.

If they reach an agreement and some bank takes space in such an unlikely location, it will fail, soon enough. So, this tour may lead to ideas for making the next ones better.

Or at least not sucky.

The virtual bank vice presidents’ Main Street, Roosevelt Island, tour

Of course, any impressive tour must start with Blackwell House, the historic gem, finally restored with hundreds of thousands invested.

Blackwell House, Main Street, Roosevelt Island

But you’d never know it’s a wonder inside, would you? There is no welcome of any kind. No flags or bunting.

Not even visiting hours posted.

It almost looks like a place Haynes might want for himself, the heck with the tourists, if only there was some good parking nearby.

But, hey, let’s walk on anyway.

Sidewalk outside Blackwell House.

What bank vice president’s going to worry about deteriorated sidewalks and the weeds outside the community’s proudest symbol?

And who’s getting petty over a street so littered with potholes the water can’t drain?

From the freshly re-painted crosswalk at Good Shepherd Plaza, looking north through the canyon.

Note: It hadn’t rained in a couple of days, and we don’t know where the standing water came from. It’s the sort of mystery bank vice-presidents get a kick out of.

Going on…

Main Street, Roosevelt Island, outside PS/IS 217.

Haynes or a tour guide probably had a good story about street conditions. Maybe they bragged about how patches over patches over patches shows their commitment to, well… to repair work.

Sometimes, there are no words, and we assume, this is one of them.

Vacant stores, Main Street, Roosevelt Island
“Retail Space Available,” the sign says.

Established fact: Buyers and investors prefer lining up with existing success because it suggests security and offers future prospects. Shops On Main had these to offer. In the heart of town.

With a little luck, the vice presidents won’t ask, “How long?”

Roosevelt Landings’s protected sidewalk.

Foot traffic is key for any retail business.

Where banks found a home on Main Street, Roosevelt Island… until they didn’t

Deteriorating support post outside the former home of Amalgamated and all previous local banks.

Whoever led the tour was probably eager to showcase how well RIOC treated their valued business partners. With scenes like these.

Failing Z-bricks outside Amalgamated.

Z-bricks, once a Main Street, Roosevelt Island, signature feature, are falling apart, almost everywhere. But should a bank fault RIOC for gross neglect?

What do you think?

Collapsed curbs, failing Z-brick and litter-filled potholes outside guess where? What once was Amalgamated Bank.

Who wouldn’t feel welcome here?

And since the collapsed curb, the broken Z-brick pattern that goes with it and the filth-filled potholes outside the bank space were like this only for a few years, RIOC probably didn’t have enough time to notice.

After all, their about to be abandoned headquarters is way, like, a hundred feet away.

But at least there’s great parking available…

RIOC found a way to ignore violations of this sign.
The official New York State Shelton J. Haynes Parking Area.

…on weekends and at night on Main Street, Roosevelt Island.

Let’s close with thoughts the irrepressible Judith Berdy shared with RIOC’s braintrust.

“Let’s involve the community in talks with banks, not just RIOC.  We are the customers. The organizations that keep their accounts and the merchants that have to scurry to find banking services.”

Enough said.

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