The Resilient New York City Retail & Restaurant Scene, Part 2 – Chelsea, Meatpacking District and West Village

This is the second part of a two part article that looks at New York City’s retail and restaurant scene. Part one highlighted New York’s Midtown neighborhood.   In 2008, Red Maps along with everyone else, got caught in the recession.  It resulted in our having to wait a little longer than usual to produce the next editions of our guides.  However, it did give us a unique view of New York City’s resilient retail and restaurant scenes in the hottest neighborhoods, at the beginning of the downturn to the current period.

Approximately 50 galleries that we listed in 2008 either closed or left the area, but our 2010 Red Map still added 36 names to the list.  Some of additions represent major moves to the neighborhood like Nancy Hoffman Gallery.  We also note that a number of galleries added to their space inventory e.g. Gagosian and Barbara Gladstone.

In the downward column, there was a loss of 16 better restaurants and cafes, but it’s not completely grim, as 12 others opened.

While Chelsea enjoys the city’s greatest concentration of art galleries, for fashion and retail, one needs to look at the adjacent neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District and the West Village.

Map image from the Chelsea Red Map. Copyrighted.

West Village and Meatpacking District
The West Village showed its muscle over the past 20 months with an addition of 32 restaurants and cafes.  To be sure, there were closings, we counted 22.  You can best see a concentration of this good energy with a quick stroll from lower Sixth Avenue across Carmine St. to Varick St.  Include the establishments of adjacent Downing Street and you have a very charming restaurant row.

In the Meatpacking District we listed 25 restaurants and cafes of note in 2008.  Since that time it lost 10, but added 9.  While percentage-wise that may be the most dramatic swing of closings, there’s no denying that the area is the hub of entertainment for the three subject areas of this guide.

Like to shop?  There were two downtown shopping areas that experienced very little setback over the period.  One was the West Village’s Bleecker Street, which is seeing the last of its older tenants and vacancies turn over to luxury goods.  That same up-scaling process has already begun on adjacent Christopher Street, which we don’t think will be recognizable in two years’ time.

The other strong retail destination was the Meatpacking District.  Red Maps added no less than 13 more boutiques of note on the few blocks that define this neighborhood with Krizia being the latest to prepare for an opening.

Elsewhere in the Village, while local bookshops might have been priced out of their historical locations, two famous shops simply relocated within the neighborhood.  Biography Books of Bleecker Street became Book Book on lower Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, while Left Bank Books moved from West 4th Street to Hudson St.

Since the first edition of the Red Map Chelsea, we’ve included the High Line Park.  We’ve seen the park go from an amenity to its surrounding neighborhoods, to now essentially defining the High Line neighborhood itself.  We attribute a good part of the strength and popularity of the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea’s growth to the park’s opening.

Map images from the Chelsea Red Map.  Copyrighted.

Preview and Buy the Red Map Chelsea

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