NEW YORK, July 21 (UPI) -- New York City's storefront vacancy rate is 6.5 percent, a near two-decade high, and is expected to top 10 percent next year, real estate data suggest.
The Marcus & Millichap Research Services data tell only part of the story, The New York Times reports.
Desirable shopping districts such as elite Fifth Avenue between 42nd Street and 49th Street and trendy SoHo from West Houston Street to Grand Street and Broadway to West Broadway, are littered with empty storefronts.
The seven-block stretch of Fifth Avenue, just south of the luxury Saks Fifth Avenue department store, has a 15.3 percent vacancy rate, brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc. says.
Among SoHo's high-end boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, 1 in 10 retail spaces are now empty or about to be, the Times says.
"I've never seen such an across-the-board problem," Lorraine Nadel, a lawyer who has represented tenants and landlords for 18 years, tells the newspaper. "Store owners can't pay their rent, and they can't keep their businesses going."
Because New York has maintained a strong storefront culture while other cities have lost their downtowns to suburban malls, a store closing is an emotional blow to residents, Columbia University historian Kenneth Jackson tells the Times.
"New York is different than the rest of America because it is the last bastion of storefronts," he says. "You don't live in a city of eight and a half million people. You live in a city of neighborhoods."
"We feel a loss when the store is gone," he adds.