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Madison Avenue Retailers Are Suffering From Whitney Withdrawal

The museum's former home at 945 Madison Avenue. Photo: Evan Bindelglass for <a href=http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/11/07/how_the_new_whitney_will_house_art_embrace_the_high_line.php">Curbed NY</a>
The museum's former home at 945 Madison Avenue. Photo: Evan Bindelglass for Curbed NY

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There's been plenty of discussion about the impact the new Whitney Museum is having in the Meatpacking District—but what about the neighbors it left behind on the Upper East Side? As Crain's New York points out, shops in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and 75th Street have lost hundreds of thousands of potential customers since the American art museum left last fall.

"When you're busy during lunch, you don't notice, but later in the afternoon, you really miss that extra crowd," a manager of the nearby 3 Guys Restaurant told the business publication. Local retailers like Christian Louboutin, Intermix, and Zadig et Voltaire are probably faring about the same, since they all have stores on both Madison and in Meatpacking—but smaller retailers are feeling the brunt.

"Madison Avenue used to be where people came to shop, but now they can go anywhere," Manrico Cashmere store manager Jason McGregor lamented.

Crain's highlights two potential saviors for this part of the neighborhood: The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be showcasing its contemporary art collection in the old Breuer building starting next spring, and Apple is moving into VBH's former home across the street at 940 Madison Avenue (despite neighbors' protests). But they could also have the opposite effect, driving up retail rents in nearby buildings and forcing out local businesses who can't afford to keep a shop open just for the address prestige.

According to one shop owner who's been here since 1979, "it's the death of a neighborhood."