For as much information that was out there when rumors of a Trader Joe’s was going to open at 500 East 14th Street, we’re surprised by the lack of coverage over the last 6-8 months. (Update: 2019 rumors flying below)
If you recall in 2016, Trader Joe’s was supposedly in discussion to take the space one block over, an mixed-use Extell Development project one block east. As many of you know by now, that didn’t happen. Trader Joe’s moved on and instead, Target signed a 30 year lease for the 23,000-square-foot store.
The news of a Target coming to the East Side of downtown seemed to suck all the air out of the fact that Trader Joe’s is still coming to the East Village. In fact, they’ll essentially be Target’s next door neighbor; signing a lease at 432 East 14th Street in a similarly-sized 22,700 square feet divided up by ground floor and lower level.
The Trader Joe’s replaces the Peter Stuyvesant post office that closed back in February 2014. In that same year, a Facebook Group popped up advocating for a Trader Joes to the area.
So yes that’s right, there will be a Target and Trader Joe’s right across from one another, on the same side of the street. Target will be on the east side of Avenue A and Trader Joe’s on the west side of Avenue A.
No, this isn’t your uncle’s Alphabet City. Not by a long shot.
When is the new Trader Joe’s opening in the East Village?
So, when will this new Trader Joe’s open? When the deal was announced with the press release back in May 2017, it mentioned that it was scheduled to open in the second half of 2018. Whether that date has been moved up or back isn’t clear as of this post.
We’ve walked by the site often and were surprised how quickly things were turning around. It seemed that one day, nothing was there and then the next day, a structure was erected. We walked by the construction site in October 2017 and here’s what we saw.
Not sure how to interpret the progress. Our sense is that the timing of the opening will depend in part to the Winter months in 2017 and 2018. If we have a relatively-warm months on either side of Winter, they can continue construction on the project.
By the end of 2018, this will be the third Trader Joe’s below 14th street. In addition to the Union Square location at 3rd Avenue and this one, there’s also a location being built concurrently in the Lower East Side location at 146 Clinton St. which is apart of the huge Essex Crossing project. The Union Square location was opened in 2006 and was the franchise’s first location in New York City. With these new locations, there will be ten locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
UPDATE: That first rumor that popped up in 2017 may have been a little early, but 2019 sprang new hope as EVGrieve reported the news that Trader Joe’s might still be in the cards at 432 East 14th Street. In that post, an EVG reader snapped some pics of signage and markings indicating a Trader Joe’s equipment to be delivered to that exact address.
We know it’s just a piece of paper and a huge spray painted “TJ”, but why else? If true, then that location will probably open sometime in 2019. As of this update, there’s no official announcement on Trader Joe’s site. We’re thinking that if TJs is truly coming to Avenue A then there should be news sooner than later — probably an announcement in April at the latest.
How Trader Joe’s Accelerates Gentrification
We’re torn on the new Trader Joe’s. We admit that we love shopping at the store, but at the same time, we know that the franchise brings along more unsavory elements that impact the community. As great as TJ’s is, their presence accelerates in several ways.
They validate the area for other bog boxes and franchises to come a further commercialize the neighborhood, which bring pumpkin-spiced latte loving former-sorority girls. With that, comes bros and rising rents (that is already problematic in the area) for both small businesses and residents.
“This corridor of 14th Street is rapidly expanding with new condos popping up east of First Avenue,” says Holly Sose, a real estate broker at Corcoran, who lives in the neighborhood. “I would expect to see a bump in prices with the combo of high-end condos and the retail like Trader Joe’s that will follow to support the neighborhood and its new, well-heeled residents.”
For renters, all of this change can mean landlords are more likely to raise rents and tack on steeper rent increases when it comes time to renew a lease (signs of a gentrifying neighborhood and additional conveniences can do that). And for those in rent stabilized units, for whom rent increases are limited by law, these new stores can mean they’re about to get priced out of the amenities in their neighborhood… they also may spell death to local mom-and-pops, which ultimately changes a neighborhood from being a close-knit one that supports local shops to one that feels more generic
Gentrification is a complicated issue that can’t just be pinned to one retailer, but it’s a fact that Trader Joe’s contributes to a neighborhood’s loss of character. We like Trader Joe’s, but we love the creativity, diversity (both racially and economically), laid back and artistic nature the East Village offers. We wish that both could exist together.
Read More about Trader Joe’s, Target and Gentrification at Brick Underground