After the John Varvatos shop opened on the Bowery, everyone (including us) had the same qualifying refrain: "Well, it's better than a bank"
As it turns out, the space probably wouldn't have become a bank anyway.
Even six months ago, the rampant expansion of bank branches in the city resulted in the alarming displacement of many a retail business including, most infamously, beloved institutions like The Second Avenue Deli. It seemed that banks were popping up everywhere, sometimes two to a block even in quieter, residential neighborhoods. They were willing to offer rents above market rates for a prime spot, and landlords were only too happy to oblige. With the current woes in the financial world, those days may well be over.
The Real Deal reports that Commerce, Chase, Citibank and Wachovia among others have pulled back on their plans for additional branches, and consolidations in the industry may even lead to some branch closures.
And so, here is the unexpected benefit from an economic downturn: Increasing rents stabilize, and overinflated ones even drop a bit. While it may not be enough to keep every independent store from losing its lease to a chain store, it may just put the brakes on runaway retail rents for a while, and possibly save your favorite neighborhood shop.
Bank branch bust opens doors to retailers (The Real Deal)