Yesterday, Urban Outfitters revealed in The Wall Street Journal that their upcoming store on on Broadway between 99th & 100th Streets would feature four false storefronts, a hat store, a hardware store, a neighborhood bar and a bodega. Aside from the obvious condescension of the concept ("Oh, crummy old New York shops -aren't they charming?") this unusual architectural conceit is meant to pay some sort of tribute to independent businesses of the city -something of which there are still plenty on upper Broadway, by the way. Of course there's something not quite right about the store paying tribute to the kinds of businesses that were probably torn down to make way for the sleek luxury high rise whose lower floors Urban Outfitters will be occupying when the store opens in late August. We have to wonder what the people in the expensive condos that rise over the future store are to think about the formerly sleek front of their luxury building being un-gentrified
That's not even the big irony here, though.
Originally, UO had intended to open its store across the street in the landmarked site of the Metro cinema (pictured above), but several months after the store was announced, it was decided that renovating the space, whose original, lavish Art Deco interior had previously been cruelly gutted, was too complicated and costly, so a move was made across Broadway to another, newer space that had been waiting a long time to finally be leased.
While Urban Outfitters is currently dismantling the contemporary facade of a relatively new building behind plywood to put up ersatz storefronts (pictured below), a beautiful Art Deco landmark with genuine inherent charm sits in disrepair across the street still waiting for someone who will find some use for it and return at least the exterior to something approximating its former glory.