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Hell's Kitchen Success Shows High Rents Not Entirely To Blame For West Village Retail Slump

The West Village, Manhattan

Hell’s Kitchen has a far lower vacancy rate than the West Village, according to a new report from the Real Estate Board of New York, suggesting high rents are not the only reason for the posh neighborhood's empty stores.

In the West Village, vacancy sits at 11.3%, while in Hell’s Kitchen the rate is just 5%. The asking rent in the Village is only slightly higher, according to REBNY, with Hell's Kitchen's Ninth Avenue between West 42nd and 59th streets at $139 per SF and the West Village's Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street at $150 to $155 per SF. Overall, retail rents are coming down across the city.

The report suggests foot traffic, the number of landmarks and local council regulations all play a major role in the success of a retail area.

“New York City’s retail uses are going through a transition due to a variety of factors, including national and local forces like online shopping and increasingly unfriendly regulations,” REBNY President John Banks said.

In the West Village, the local Community Board 2 knocks back 25% of liquor license applications, while Community Board 4 in Hell’s Kitchen rejects just 4%, the report found. Only 1% of properties in Hell’s Kitchen are landmarked, compared to almost 89% in the West Village.

Hell’s Kitchen is also getting more people. The population there grew by 9% between 2000 and 2016, according to the report, whereas people are actually leaving the West Village. Almost 10% of people left that neighborhood during that time.

“The city’s regulatory environment for small businesses is very challenging and often undermines the ability to succeed,” Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jessica Walker said in a statement. “Most business owners avoid high maintenance neighborhoods that add even more hoops to jump through in order to locate there.”