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Thread: Times Square Porn Palaces Move to 8th Ave.

  1. #1

    Default Times Square Porn Palaces Move to 8th Ave.

    April 27, 2003

    Times Sq. Pornography Palaces Move to Eighth Avenue


    Times Square is a feast of light these days, popping with virtue and commerce. The pornography palaces are gone, and 42nd Street is as clean as it is excessive. But smut usually doesn't just disappear. It migrates.

    Today, the stretch of Eighth Avenue between Pennsylvania Station and the Port Authority yawns with vice. Liquor stores and Chinese takeout joints press up against pornographic video stores. The fallen, and those tempted to fall, are well served by the pawnbroker, palm reader, methadone clinic and needle exchange center. A man in eyeliner, thin as death, stood on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 37th Street late one afternoon last week, fluttering his hands before two young cops. "I fell down," the man said to them. "I fell down right here."

    There are nine pornographic DVD/video parlors on Eighth Avenue between 34th and 40th Streets. Two years ago, according to the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, there were just two. Moreover, five sexually explicit video shops on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets are being displaced to make room for a new 52-story headquarters for The New York Times Company. One of those shops has relocated to West 40th Street, near Eighth Avenue, and three others plan to move to West 36th Street, near Eighth Avenue.

    "When you have social problems in a city, if you don't solve the problem all you are going to do is move the problem," said Barbara Randall, executive director of the BID. "When Times Square was so dramatically improved, that stuff had to get moved somewhere. We believe it got moved south."

    Because there are no churches, schools or parks in the area, the porn places are legal, even under the strict quality-of-life laws instituted under former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Their owners are also willing to pay more than double market rents.

    Mike Lee is one of the owners of 306 West 40th Street, a dingy four-story building just off Eighth Avenue that houses a pornographic DVD store. Six surveillance cameras adorn the shop's mirrored walls, which are packed with fleshy videos and viewing booths. "We're just businessmen, you know," Mr. Lee said. "They paid the right price. We rented to them. I'm just like Donald Trump and Rockefeller."

    Eric Gural, a senior managing director at Newmark & Company Real Estate, which manages several buildings in the area, said, "That's the American way, but unfortunately, it retards the growth of the area."

    In the 1990's, spurred by the shortage of commercial real estate in the city, many landlords in the neighborhood converted old factory buildings into offices and began to attract higher-paying tenants. In 1999, Mr. Gural started a $3 million renovation of 520 Eighth Avenue, which is now home to, among others, the Fund for the City of New York; Orbis, a humanitarian organization that runs a mobile eye-care hospital; and the Baby Buggy, a charity run by Jessica Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld's wife.

    But retail development tends to lag behind office development. "What the retail guys want to know is that the people who work in the neighborhood can afford a $9 lunch rather than a $4 lunch," Mr. Gural said.

    Developers are betting that the upward mobility of the neighborhood will prove inexorable. "The retail values are naturally going to go up," said Samuel Rosenblatt, president of Olmstead Properties, whose building at 575 Eighth Avenue has gleaming gold elevators and is home to, among others, City Harvest, Hewlett-Packard and the Art Students League of New York. "Traditional retailers will be paying the same rents as these DVD guys pay. That's my hope."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2


    Haven't been in this area recently. Are the sleaze shops still there? How are they or will they be affected by the NY Times Building? And the Javits expansion? Are these places accompanied by hookers?

  3. #3


    Just recently stayed at the Milford plaza,we wandered regularly up and down 8th avenue,unless I was oblivious to it,I can't remember feeling too un-comfortable!!!

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