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Ailing Stores Along Second Ave. Subway Skeptical of New Proposal

By DNAinfo Staff on May 25, 2010 3:39pm  | Updated on May 25, 2010 4:13pm

By Gabriela Resto-Montero

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER EAST SIDE — Stores along Second Avenue whose customer traffic has been choked off by subway construction are doubtful that the latest proposed solution to their problems — more space to advertise their stores — will help their business.

A new proposal set to be considered by Community Board 8's Second Avenue Subway Task Force wants to extend the distance owners can hang additional store signs from 25 feet away from their store to 100 feet. The committee will meet to discuss the plan Tuesday night.

Most of the current signs hang from the chain-link construction fencing abutting the street.

But business owners said the ad space, even if approved, will do little to lure customers past the noisy and congested construction space and into their shops.

"How is that going to help?" said Edward Crowe, owner of The Crowe's Nest Bar and Restaurant at 1802 Second Avenue.

"You can have all the advertisements in the world but where are they going to park or walk through?" Crowe said.

Business owners complain that officials have been slow to respond to their needs since construction of the long-awaited east side subway line began 3 1/2 years ago.

Gov. David Paterson vetoed a 2008 bill that would have provided grants to ailing businesses, which Crowe said could have helped save stores that have since gone under.

State Senator Jose Serrano and Assemblyman Jonathan Bing reintroduced a modified version of the bill in March, OurTown reported.

Businesses along Second Avenue from East 92nd Street to East 94th street have seen a massive drop in foot traffic to their stores since a blockade of concrete and wire mesh fencing was erected over the course of the past three years.

Owners say construction crews with jackhammers and other heavy gear have kicked up enough noise and dust to keep their customers away, no matter how nice the signs look.

"We lost all the traffic," said Winnie Siu, owner of Vintage on Second Wines and Spirits at 1752 Second Avenue.

"We lost that totally because there's no parking and people don't want to walk on this side when they're afraid something will fall," Siu said.

The Subway Task Force will discuss the proposal during their monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the New York Blood Center at 310 East 67th Street.