I took my last walk down Reade Street on Thursday.
For the last four years I’ve been taking a bleary-eyed stroll down this quite block to attend a 7AM boxing class twice a week at the New York Sports Club’s Tribeca facility.
There was a time when getting up so early for such a brutal workout was absolutely unthinkable to me, but I gradually got used to it and now I actually prefer the dawn patrol routine.
The people in the class are great and you once you’re done, you’re done for the day.
But like so many other businesses in the city, the Reade Street gym got muscled out by Manhattan’s stratospheric rents.
The building’s owners jacked the current fee from $21,000 to forty grand a month and the NYSC front office elected to shut down the gym down rather than fork over the dough.
It was a surreal experience having the class on that last day of the gym’s existence.
The place was sparsely populated, the young woman at the desk didn’t bother checking our IDs and I had to ask her for a roll of toilet paper. Luckily she had a spare behind the counter.
We’ll be moving our class to the nearby City Hall gym, which is actually a little closer for me. But it’s going to be strange after all that time at Reade Street.
My company is also on the move, relocating from our fabulous building at 195 Broadway to a new location across the river in Hoboken. It means a longer, more expensive commute, of course, but the company will be saving money and that’s all that matters.
And 195 Broadway is being overhauled. The vast lobby that dates back to the early Twentieth Century, the former headquarters of AT&T, is going to have a high-end sushi restaurant and some other retailer built within that beautiful space.
Pack It In
I thought the city’s landmark preservation laws would’ve prevented this kind of thing, but it looks like I was wrong. It’s so infuriating because that spacious lobby was a part of the architect’s vision—it’s supposed to be empty.
But today’s real estate piranhas only see dollar signs when they lay their greedy little eyes on empty space and they must build, build, build.
This is a very challenging time for me. I’m due for a sharp course correction in my career and my life and it’s liable to be a very painful one.
There’s so much change going on, and while I know that change is inevitable, it’s still a bit unnerving. I find that far too often in my life I’m not an agent of change; I’m a victim of it.
I’ve been far too cautious and fearful for far too long. So it’s time to let go out of all these worries that are strangling me.
However, I also know that fear only blots out the light and that leads to desperation.
I went to the NYSC club in my neighborhood on Saturday morning and I walked by the Middle Eastern grocery store where I used to buy walnuts and almonds.
But it’s closed now and the lovely elderly couple that ran the place chose to shut down and move to Philly to be with their son’s family rather than pay higher rent. A Norwegian specialty store on the next block shut its doors back in January after being in business for 30 years, another victim of climbing rents.
I did a cycling class to help cut down on the stress and depression and I did feel better, at least for a little while.
On the way out of the building I passed a young father and his little girl who were coming up the stairs.
“I’m scared,” she said as they reached the second landing.
“You won’t fall,” the father said soothingly.
No, she won’t. And neither will I.