By Gabriela Resto-Montero
UPPER EAST SIDE — As some businesses along the Second Avenue subway construction route continue to struggle, retail landlords have begun trying to attract new tenants with lower rents.
Since construction began on the new subway line, retail rent prices per square foot have dropped from the mid $200s to between $100 and $150 along Second Avenue, said Adrienne Shea, an agent with Winnick Real Estate.
"I think landlords are taking into consideration that there's construction and how that's affecting businesses on that side of the street," Shea said of the eastern side of Second Avenue.
In some cases, landlords were willing to maintain the lower rent for two or three years before raising the rates, she said.
The push to bring in new tenants comes after some businesses, including CiaoBella restaurant on Second Avenue between East 85th and East 86th Streets, closed as a result of decreased foot traffic.
The former restaurant is now up for lease, as is the smaller retail lot next door.
Despite the construction, some businesses are willing to gamble by opening on the avenue in the hopes of having a prime spot on what will be a highly-trafficked street once the subway opens in the next few years.
This month's opening of Gothic Cabinet next to the former CiaoBella shows the faith some retailers have that the subway station at the corner of East 86th Street will eventually attract people instead of drive them away, Shea said.
"It is affecting the retailers but, as time goes on and the whole project progresses, people are also realizing that it's a great opportunity," she said.
The first phase of the subway is tentatively expected to open in 2016 and business owners at a rally last Sunday said they might not make it that long.
More than a dozen Upper East Side business owners affected by subway construction said they intended to take legal action against the MTA if sanitary, sidewalk and visibility conditions didn't improve.
In an effort to be "good neighbors," the MTA announced plans last week to overhaul the construction corridors over the next eight months.