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View Full Version : Brodsky building 250 apts on Ninth Ave at 42nd Street



Edward
January 14th, 2002, 12:43 PM
From New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com)

January 10, 2002
For Mom and Pop, Closing Time
By TERRY PRISTIN

Unlike many other independent pharmacists, Albert and Maria Gardini, the owners of a small drugstore in Manhattan's theater district, foresaw the cataclysmic changes that were about to sweep through their industry and adapted to them.

They were prepared, for example, when the chain stores began spreading and when the reimbursements for medications bought with prescription cards started shrinking.

The Gardinis responded to these challenges back in 1988 by refusing to take prescription cards at Alps Drugs, their corner store on Ninth Avenue and 42nd Street, except from members of the Screen Actors Guild and Actors' Equity the "lifeblood of the neighborhood," as Mrs. Gardini describes them.

The couple also shifted the emphasis at Alps, making it more of a parfumerie and gift shop, and stocking it with thousands of items that were handpicked by the couple during their frequent trips abroad. (They almost always traveled separately so that they would not have to close the store.)

You could still have a prescription filled and the petite and gregarious Mrs. Gardini might actually deliver the medicine herself but you could also find Portuguese perfume bottles, paper dolls, brushed aluminum pocket mirrors, scented drawer-lining papers from England, crystal-encrusted hair ornaments, more than 200 greeting cards, French postcards ("both naughty and nice," according to Mrs. Gardini), a $3 handmade comb in the shape of a penguin, and, at Christmas, panettone. Many items cost less than $5 and none cost more than $150.

Their strategy worked. As many mom-and-pop stores went under, the Gardinis stayed in business. But on Wednesday, after more than half a century at the same location, the Alps is closing.

The Gardinis, who own the four- story building where Alps is located and where they raised their three daughters in a duplex apartment above the 1,000-square-foot store, agreed in August to sell it for an undisclosed price to the developer Daniel Brodsky. The building will be demolished and the site will become part of a complex with 250 apartments that will stretch from 42nd Street to 43rd Street. Construction is expected to begin at the end of February, Mr. Brodsky said.

Had they chosen to stay, Mr. Brodsky could have built around them, but the Gardinis he is 62 and she is 61 say that they did not want to put up with 18 months of construction noise or start over in a new location. With their three daughters working in the entertainment business, they had no one to take over Alps when they retired.

"I did not want to sell to another independent and not be able to maintain the quality of the store that my father and I realized," said Mr. Gardini, a courtly man who inherited Alps from his father, Emilio. "We felt this was the best way to do it, to close."

Word of the store's closing has saddened longtime customers who have relied on the Gardinis for medical advice, a seemingly limitless supply of hostess gifts and birthday presents and the kind of neighborly cheer that is lacking in the chain stores. They say that Alps brought a welcome whiff of European elegance to Hell's Kitchen, a neighborhood once known more for its longshoremen than for lavender soap.

"My heart is bleeding," said Jean- Claude Baker, the owner of Chez Josephine, a nearby restaurant. "We are losing an institution in the neighborhood." Not long ago, Mr. Baker had Mrs. Gardini put together an assortment of Christmas gifts for his 95-year-old grandmother, a cat fancier, that included a feline-shaped hot-water bottle.

Another customer, Paula Miksic, a Chelsea resident, said she went out of her way to shop at Alps because it carried a hard-to-find German bath product that her husband likes. "I love their stuff, and I love their attitude," Mrs. Miksic said. "It's very personal, and if you ask them about something, they give you good advice."

To some customers, the demise of Alps suggests that a neighborhood prized by residents for its ethnic food shops and restaurants is well on its way to a bland form of gentrification. The four long blocks of 42nd Street west of Eighth Avenue, once dismissed by developers as a wasteland of warehouses, lumber yards and parking lots, have been undergoing striking change, with about half a dozen residential and commercial projects under way or recently completed.

But zoning restrictions brought about through community pressure are expected to prevent Ninth Avenue from turning into a high-rise canyon like Third Avenue. Mr. Brodsky said the pet store and Thai restaurant between 42nd Street and 43rd Street would remain on the block even after his building was finished. He said he was more than willing to keep Alps as a tenant. "That was the option we would have preferred," he said, "but he wanted to get out."

Alps opened at its current location in 1949, but its history goes back even further. When Emilio Gardini arrived in New York from Parma, Italy, in 1923, he went to work for a friend who had opened three pharmacies, including one on 40th Street and Ninth Avenue, in a neighborhood crowded with Irish and Italian immigrants. Ten years later, when his friend retired, Mr. Gardini bought the Alps store on Ninth Avenue. That store was eventually displaced by the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

As a boy, Albert Gardini found himself boarding ocean liners to pick up prescriptions and delivering aerosol sprays and lozenges to singers from the Metropolitan Opera House, then on Broadway and 40th Street. The contact with the opera world proved infectious. For several years, the younger Mr. Gardini studied to become an opera singer. "I was lucky enough to realize I had limited potential," he said.

When he was a music student, his accompanist was often the future Mrs. Gardini, whom he had met at the welcoming party on their first night at the now-defunct Fordham University College of Pharmacy. "I fell in love at the first dance," Mrs. Gardini said. After a nine-year courtship that was prolonged because of Mr. Gardini's singing ambitions, the couple married in 1966.

Many tough years followed, as the spread of pornography shops and the worsening crime drove away customers. "Nobody wanted to come to Ninth Avenue," Mrs. Gardini said. Business improved in 1977, when the huge Manhattan Plaza complex opened across the street from the store.

Despite the hard times, the couple managed to send all three daughters to private schools, where, Mrs. Gardini said, the parents of their classmates were often shocked to learn of the family's unfashionable home address. Today, the eldest, Marisa Kinosian, 34, is a lawyer, and a business partner of Isaac Mizrahi; Gina, 32, is a vice president for production at Miramax Films; and Carla, 26, is an assistant to John Goldwyn, the president of Paramount Motion Pictures.

With the store closing only days away, the Gardinis are not yet certain where they will live. Ms. Kinosian said she intended to hang onto the oak cabinets that line the walls of the shop, and the Gardinis will keep some of their merchandise because they plan to start a corporate gift business. That will allow them to keep traveling together, for a change.

The couple said they were looking forward to an easier pace that includes having Sundays and holidays off. But Mrs. Gardini said there were no regrets. "I can't think of a richer way of living one's life," she said, "than helping people and yet having fun."



The Alps Drugs store at the corner of 42nd Street and 9th Avenue

http://www.wirednewyork.com/images/alps_ninth_42nd_12jan02.jpg



The view on the new development at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street, with World Wide Plaza (http://www.wirednewyork.com/world_wide_plaza.htm) prominently in the center.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/images/alps_ninth_42nd_wwp.jpg

Edward
January 20th, 2002, 11:58 PM
The view on the future development from 420 West 42nd (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/420w42nd/default.htm) rental apartment building

http://www.wirednewyork.com/images/alps_zebra.jpg

Derek2k3
January 21st, 2002, 06:38 PM
How did you get to go inside an apartment at Theatre Row? you live there? Anyway I hope this new building looks good (not brown}. Also the building under construction in the last pic doesnt look too bad either.
http://images.fotki.com/free/404e/3/39399/81367/350West43rdStreet2-vi.jpg?1011541685

Edward
January 21st, 2002, 10:10 PM
I was actually looking for an apartment to rent. They have very nice 2-bedrooms ranging from $2,900 to $3,400 a month if you take into account their offer of 2 months free on a 1-year lease.

The views from the building are spectacular, although the south side faces the bus terminal with unavoidable noise. When I get to it, I will post pictures.

Edward
February 22nd, 2003, 01:55 AM
And now a year later...

The name of the development is 360 West 43rd. The 10-story North Tower (on W 43rd Street) is complete and it seems that $1,700 studios are fully rented. The 1-bedrooms go for $2,200-$2,500, 2-bedrooms for $2,600, penthouse $3,300. The 23-story South Tower (on W 42nd Street) is "opening Spring 2003".

The building's website is at 360w43.com (http://360w43.com/)