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J&R Reboots Pitch For Park Row Naming Rights

By Julie Shapiro | June 29, 2011 12:09pm

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

LOWER MANHATTAN — Downtown electronics destination J&R will get one final chance to argue its Park Row block should be named J&R Row.

Community Board 1 planned to reject the request at a meeting Tuesday night, but after J&R spokesman Abe Brown begged for more time to make his case, the board agreed to postpone the vote.

"I plan to vote against it," said Michael Connolly, a CB1 member, "but I don't see any reason not to extend the courtesy."

Brown is pushing for the J&R Row name as a way of boosting the shop's sales and honoring its 40th anniversary in lower Manhattan this year. He said J&R has contributed to the neighborhood's revitalization by reopening just six weeks after 9/11 and holding many free concerts and events since then.

"J&R has been a key member of the downtown community for four decades," Brown said.

Earlier this month, Brown told a CB1 committee that J&R was struggling through the economic downturn and might not survive without the street name change.

"It's not a luxury," Brown said at the June 21 meeting. "It's a matter of necessity for our business … We need this to continue to be a viable business."

But on Tuesday night, several board members said they saw J&R's request as inappropriate.

CB1 has never approved a street co-naming for a private business (the name Park Row would still appear alongside the new name) and had already turned down a similar request from J&R a few years ago, board members said.

"We said, 'Please don't come back, because we really don't want to do this,'" recalled Roger Byrom, a CB1 member.

Una Perkins, another board member, said she did not think J&R had earned the privilege of a street naming.

"I don't know anything J&R has done for the community," Perkins said. "I don't know what warrants them to have a street named after them."

Brown said he planned to gather letters of support to present to CB1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee next month. J&R already had the support of the majority of residents who live on Park Row between Ann and Beekman streets, along with the approval of the only other business on the block, Weinstein & Holtzman Hardware Store, Brown said.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin supported the street co-naming but would follow the community board's lead if the board opposed it, a Chin spokesman said.