The stretch of Sixth Avenue between West 18th and 24th Streets was once home to big-name department stores, but now that part of town predominantly includes national chains like Best Buy, Trader Joe's, and Staples. According to DNAinfo, it also includes a lot of empty storefronts.
The culprits? High rents, naturally, and landmarked buildings. To preserve the building's exteriors, the area became the Ladies' Mile Historical District in 1989. The article explains that opening a store in a landmarked building has its problems: "Those protections could make it difficult for any landlord to make modifications to the buildings without going through a long approval process with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, critics said."
As far as what's empty, the bottom floor of the northern portion of the Mattel Building at 675 Sixth Avenue hasn't had a tenant in a year, and the Barnes and Nobles that used to inhabit it closed in 2008. Over at 641 Sixth Avenue, RadioShack, Bally Total Fitness and Papyrus all up and left this past April due to pricey rents.
Given the size of these buildings and the expected rental costs, DNAinfo adds that landlords mostly look to big tenants to fill them. Gyms and smaller shops, like the FedEx that closed in June and the eyeglass shop that's since left 655 Sixth Avenue, just can't keep up.
· Empty Storefronts Plague Ladies' Mile [DNAinfo]