It's the endless Manhattan rent story as longtime local landmarks that add charm and history to resurgent neighborhoods fall victim to the gentrification forces that they have inadvertently helped. Yesterday brought the news that the Emerald Inn, a 70 year old pub on Columbus Avenue has two more months to live after which it will be replaced by a Kate Spade store. The bar has along history of serving the West Side's celebrity locals from nearby Lincoln Center and ABC Studios and even serving as a set for one of Jack Lemmon's iconic scenes in the classic Billy Wilder comedy "The Apartment". Had the owners of the bar renewed their lease, it would have doubled from its current level, which was already at a negotiated increase from only a couple of years ago. Too much for a bar, but not for the corporately owned Kate Spade which will probably do well with Theory, Rag & Bone and Intermix only a few steps away —but what kind of scotch will they serve?
While Columbus Avenue has been gentrified decades ago, it has undergone a retail renaissance in recent years on the stretch between 72nd Street and Lincoln Center that has once again sent rents soaring. Other Irish pubs in the neighborhood are feeling the same pressure and may very likely run into the same problems, making the neighborhood pub an endangered species in the Upper West Side.