5/20/08

Cute Plant Shop Induces Condo-Anxiety Attack

Plantworks is an adorable and friendly shop on East 4th Street between Lafayette and Bowery. It's been there since 1974 and with its old hand lettered signage (the phone number doesn't even include the obvious 212 area code) and sunny, empty parking lot shopping area, it's an oasis for the neighborhood. The inside of the shop is just simple, lush, displays of greenery and the workers there are always so helpful and ready to give advice on what plants are appropriate for most light-starved apartments. They also do terrace landscaping and commercial plant maintenance. It's truly one of the only original businesses left in NoHo since when I first moved to the neighborhood and I've passed it hundreds of times - it always just makes me feel good that it's there. However, yesterday when I was walking by, on the opposite sidewalk, I looked over and had an honest to God panic attack. The sun-filled parking lot had just been sprinkled with a light rain and the plants were glistening and absolutely bursting with life. The cute window was filled with flowering plants and there were racks of potted flowers, herbs, and tomatoes displayed on the sidewalk. Birds were chirping and bees were buzzing. It all looked like a Martha Stewart gardening editorial and that's when it hit me. Suddenly, my bright moment of springtime joy was replaced by menacing heart clenching horror.

My mind immediately conjured up the worst possible scenario. Some jerk is going to sweep in here, buy this lot, tear this down, and build another glass condo on this block. It's just too perfect not to and that's exactly what's happening directly around the corner on four different sites. I couldn't sleep all night even after taking two Ambien. I woke up completely wrecked and I'm going back to Plantworks today to talk to the owner. I have to know the current situation of this shop, and I hope to find out that the business owner either also owns the building or has a long term lease. But the bigger question is - Is this the state we are all living in now? Has the real estate boom actually created a new psychological disorder? It certainly isn't without cause. On my way to the grocery this morning, every store on the west side of Third Avenue between 10th and 11th Street had been closed and replaced with nail/spa salons or some other unnecessary business. The deli was gone, the very bad Taco Bell was gone, the art supply store was gone, and the nasty old alki-pub that I'd never been into was gone (but I was glad it was there!). On the way back from the grocery, the entire corner of Fourth Avenue and 10th Street had been leveled where at least six different small businesses once stood. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going up on that lot. When I got home I fixed myself a large martini. It was 11:30 in the morning and there was really nothing else to do.

So that's my current neurosis. I'll update when I find out anything about Plantworks.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating, well-written, and funny blog. Very New York. I read the stupid hater comments on Curbed, so you must be doing something very right! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

i'll be checking back to hear what the owner says. i hope they have a 30 year lease! :)

i <3 plantworks, and i hate glass condos.