Shops on Main launched in 2011 with a boom that bombed. Hudson president David Kramer promised “shock and awe.” It’s too late now for either, but what we have is a big post-pandemic bump into a functioning Main Street Corridor.
By David Stone
The Roosevelt Island Daily News
Shops On Main, October 2021
In past reviews, we’ve taken Hudson-Related to task for underwhelming results, empty storefronts and abundant, unfulfilled promises. But with the opening of Island OM in September, Shops on Main hit a peak. Now, with head-shaking haste, Roosevelt Island’s single street has greater occupancy and more diversity than most of Manhattan.
A renaissance that started with PupCulture before running aground with coronavirus lockdowns flourishes with new businesses added. Wholesome Macelleria, filling long empty retail space at 503 Main, opened even before the heaviest restrictions ended.
At one point, concerns arose because only groceries and dining establishments seemed viable, threatening a glut and insolvency for some. And the strains of COVID-19 constricted everything, but deft handling by Hudson-Related kept businesses from folding during the pandemic. Kramer counts that success as proving Shops on Main a success.
But All True Stories Have A Dark Side
All this played out while Hudson-Related fought a war of attrition with the owners of Westview. Any apparent advantage masks damages elsewhere.
Hudson-Related’s sway over RIOC, which should by law be fair to all, led to the state agency’s abandoning its 40 year home at 591 Main for a prime retail location at 524 Main, previously the public library. But RIOC went rent free for its entire life to date, they’ll pay Hudson-Related $75,000 yearly. That’s triple what NYPL paid, and there’s been no explanation why.
Damaging ripples from the move continue, first of all because the space is too small. This led to RIOC seizing other spaces never intended for office use in meeting demand. Rehearsal spaces in the Cultural Center along with others used for religious services are now packed with storage. Worst of all, president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes converted second floor space in Blackwell House into an ADA non-compliant office.
And poaching RIOC from Westview didn’t stop there. After failing at pulling Amalgamated bank from Westview, Hudson-Related successfully added the liquor store to Shops on Main. All those bottles will bump south into space long ago abandoned by the stationery store and the sweet shop. They’ve signed on, and the move will come as soon as their current lease expires.
Shops On Main, October 2022: Conclusion
New businesses and diversity added to Shops on Main is great, but poaching businesses from a competitor isn’t helpful. It replaces one vacant storefront by creating another.
The old stationery store stays vacant for another year because, like an arranged marriage, it’s spoken for. One completely empty space, next door to PSD, remains available, and the former home of Roosevelt Island Urgent Care is underutilized.
Overall, though, for residents, the picture’s brighter than it’s been in many years. Now, finding businesses for Westview and creating more foot traffic are on the community must-do list.
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