Volume 22, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 24 - 30, 2009
By Patrick Hedlund
Rise of the machines
Nearly 100 illegal cash machines encroach onto sidewalk space in the East Village and Lower East Side, creating a public blight and increasing the risk of crime, according to a recent survey by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
The citywide survey found 258 unregulated sidewalk A.T.M.’s located throughout Manhattan, most of which are owned by companies that contract with nearby retail stores to place them on sidewalks near busy stretches.
Stringer has urged the city to adopt regulations to discourage the proliferation of such stand-alone A.T.M.’s, decrying their intrusion into public space and the potential threat they pose to user safety.
“The last thing our crowded sidewalks need is competition for space from these illegal machines,” Stringer said in a statement. “But this is more than just a nuisance. The exploding number of sidewalk A.T.M.’s need to be covered by the same consumer protections that apply to bank A.T.M.’s. Otherwise we’re asking for rising incidences of street crime and identity theft.”
The survey showed that more than 85 percent of the bank-unaffiliated street A.T.M.’s lacked visible surveillance cameras and more than 40 percent had been vandalized with graffiti. Additionally, the average charge for withdrawing money was nearly 8 percent higher than at indoor A.T.M.’s surveyed.
“Community Board 3 has an active street life and densely populated sidewalks,” added Susan Stetzer, district manager of C.B. 3, in Stringer’s statement. “Illegal A.T.M.’s do not serve our community — they create potential criminal/safety problems, they are covered with graffiti, and they take up valuable sidewalk space.”
According to the Borough President’s Office, retail stores are only permitted to display merchandise for sale within 3 feet of the store. The city Department of Transportation currently regulates the A.T.M.’s, and Stringer called for all of the machines to be licensed to “force the owners to meet reasonable standards of safety and cleanliness.”
The East Village-based blog EV Grieve also complained about the preponderance of A.T.M.’s back in March, photographing six cash machines along one block of Avenue B alone.
Sara Renaud, a Prince St. resident, complained of seeing two A.T.M.’s sprout on her street between Elizabeth St. and the Bowery in recent months. She said that the influx of nightlife establishments in the area has led to an increase in the machines’ presence Downtown.
“This is a beautiful little neighborhood, it used to have class,” said Renaud, who recently started a petition seeking to limit the number of free-standing street A.T.M.’s. “It’s like Vegas — it’s just out of control.”
She also reported that a mugger recently targeted someone on her block, leading Renaud to speculate that card-swiping patrons have become easy marks for criminals.
“If I was a mugger,” she added, “that’s where I’d hang out.”
Summer rental chill
Rental prices in Tribeca, one of the most expensive and sought-after neighborhoods in the city, took a tumble during the last month, while rents in the Financial District showed uncharacteristic gains, according a monthly market report from the Real Estate Group New York.
The July report, covering one of the most active rental months of the year, showed that average Tribeca rents for studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments in both doorman and non-doorman buildings slipped by 2.77 percent over all since last month. The decrease was attributable to a more than 12 percent drop in the average price of non-doorman studios in the neighborhood, as well as a 5.26 percent fall for non-doorman one-bedrooms.
All unit types in the Financial District experienced a modest 0.95 percent increase, a figure bolstered by a 9.93 percent jump in the average price of non-doorman two-bedrooms and a 4.07 percent spike for non-doorman one-bedrooms.
Other notable changes included a nearly 9 percent drop in the average price of doorman studios in Soho, as well as 7.15 percent dip for non-doorman two-bedrooms in the neighborhood. However, Soho did post gains for non-doorman studios (up 9.03 percent) and doorman two-bedrooms (up 7.74 percent).
On the Lower East Side, noticeable decreases were felt in the price of non-doorman studios (down 7.75 percent) and non-doorman two-bedrooms (down 6.58 percent), while increases occurred at doorman two-bedrooms (up 6.89 percent) and doorman one-bedrooms (up 6.52 percent).
Prices in Battery Park City remained steady month over month.