columbus abandoned

Take a stroll up the East side of Columbus Avenue from the corner of 86th street and you’ll see…not much. The South half of the block is now almost entirely shuttered, except for one remaining dry cleaners. The Olympic deli on the North corner is also closed, but is seeking a new tenant. Some of the businesses have been empty for years, and they don’t seem like they’re looking aggressively for new tenants.

Our intrepid tipster Kenneth even poked his head into the 3 Star Coffee Shop, which never reopened after the health department shut it down earlier this year.

What he found was pretty gross: “Half torn out. There must have been 1 million flies inside. Clearly, food must have been left inside.”

It’s not yet clear what will happen to the block — no building permits appear to have been filed recently. But hopefully, something new will come in soon. It’s a pretty prime location and it’s becoming quite an eyesore.

3 star coffee shop

3 star2

Photos by Kenneth.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 30 comments | permalink
    1. Andew Matthew says:

      I can totally see a big bog tenant coming in.

    2. WhatsUpDuck says:

      I might be mistaken, but I thought the owners of the diner also own the building(s)?

    3. Drew says:

      From what I’ve been told the whole building is owned by two brothers who also ran 3 Star. They don’t really care about making money and used the vacant spaces to store there stuff.

      I don’t understand it for the life of me. Sell the building and move on or do something with it.

    4. Howard Freeman says:

      Passed by this block over the weekend, and I wondered again when a developer would take out that whole area and put up another highrise. Not long.

      • Jeremy says:

        Considering that the frontage on 87th suggests that it’s subsidized housing of some kind and it’s across the street from Helen Rosenthal’s office, I doubt anything positive is going to happen there. It’ll just fester, and some people will be very happy with that status quo.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          wow… what nastiness.

          • Cato says:

            Agreed — a totally unfair swipe at Helen Rosenthal. The fact that her office is across the street has nothing to do with this building or with this story — there hasn’t been a single suggestion of any traffic problem at that corner, so there’s absolutely no reason to think she will have any involvement with it.

      • webot says:

        This block is almost a snapshot of 1970s Columbus Avenue , before the first wave of restaurants and boutiques. Here it is folks, in living color – the past some of our comrades pine for.
        That said, it would be great if the diner/building owners rented to some nice new places.

        Howard, I believe some of the units are government owned/run. and the rest are rent stabilized. So no “taking out” by a developer. but , again why the swipe agasint developers? seriously they can do no right by some of you.

        fyi, that place you live in? the physical city? built by developers.

        • Deborah says:

          Please don’t talk about what the West Side was like in the 1970s when you apparently have no idea what you’re talking about…

          • Paul RL says:

            You’re right – it was like that for a good part of the ’80’s, too!

          • webot says:

            deborah, wow what nastiness.

            If you see my other posts, I know all about the UWS in the 70s.. I am a child of that era.

            You extreme lefties may not like my policy, but I know what i am talking about.

    5. Dale High says:

      The problem is there is no such thing as local retailing any more … or much of any kind of retail. Because rents are so high there really is no way a small business can run itself financially enough to pay employees, stock and restock merchandise, pay rent and make any kind of profit … I for one do not understand how any of these property owners can leave a rental space unoccupied for years … the can right it off as a loss but it depresses the value of the property.

    6. ursus arctos says:

      Aren’t there actually two (very similar) buildings on that block (544 and 546)? Does anyone know if the 3 Star folks own both?

      Like others, I have long assumed that this block was going to be redeveloped. I wonder whether there is a dispute within the family as to what is going to happen with the buildings.

    7. Pedestrian says:

      It pays to leave your space empty no matter what it does to the neighborhood. The City needs to rearrange its priorities and do something to incentivize the maintenance of small business in our neighborhoods. Billions for upscale developers and ZERO for small business, what a wrong headed policy choice.

    8. meech says:

      I always loved the name of that place. They could have given themselves five stars but they couldn’t be bothered…

    9. Soxtory says:

      You cannot put a bank in there at least? Or is it because the number of banks are regulated and we are at max?

      • BMAC says:

        There’s already a Chase right next door to the old 3 Star location, fronting on 86th Street.

    10. Peter Salwen says:

      Damn shame. We really liked that old place, and we treasured the hokey ’60s-’70s decor & the friendly, old-timey food service — all the more so because we were pretty sure it was doomed.

    11. Peter Salwen says:

      Damn shame to see the Three Star gone. We really liked that old place and treasured both the hokey ’60s-’70s decor and the friendly old-timey service — and all the more so because we were pretty sure it was doomed.

    12. Frank V says:

      Can’t you see – they are vacating the entire Columbus Ave front for a new luxury tower – that’s been the landlords’ goal since the late seventies – the building were only maintained but never beautified

      • webot says:

        Frank – if they are , its their property , only in NYC would it take 40 years for their evil plot to come to fruition.


        I think the zoning would only allow a mid rise , or is it landmarked? if so, then nada built.


        if you put in yet more subsidized housing – cause the urban renewal plan of the 60s that demolished all of upper columbus was such great urban planning – well, then the politicians will lay out red carpet.

    13. Chris says:

      I really hope someone does a deeper dive and comes up with some good reporting on what is actually going on here. I live nearby and it defies logic. It’s right out of Carpenter’s Escape from New York.

      I get that portions of upper Broadway and Amsterdam in the 90s are pretty grim – I wouldn’t want to invest in those areas either – but this is a reasonably prime block in a nicer portion of the UWS a block from the park. It makes no sense that the owners are “holding out” for a high-paying tenant, or that the nature of the building would keep it from being bought and redeveloped, unless I am missing something. The note above about the owners using it for storage is intriguing but I am skeptical. Someone should get to the bottom of this….

    14. dave says:

      If I recall,someone did try and open a local business,but the liberal fascists had to protest the pet store because they didn’t want to shop there.

      • CB says:

        Putting to one side your pointless dig at “liberal fascists,” that pet store was one block north. Its demise was due to the fact that no one made purchases there. Go, free market.

        This building (or pair of buildings) has been strangely managed for over 3 decades. It’s pretty clear that the weirdness comes down to decisions the owners are making.

        I live nearby and would love to see a good renovation and the creation of useful retail space.

    15. BILL says:

      It looks to me like 3 star is being worked on,the windows and doors are papered over,always a sign of work being done..the former deli on 87th has a for rent sign on it.. the check cashing place ,dry cleaners,shoe repair and massage place are open. Only the empty store next to 3 star which used to be the check cashing store hasnt been in use for a while.

    16. Bryan Ware says:

      I’ve been trying for weeks to get in touch with the owners. I have an upscale restaurant that would like to rent the space. Any help would be appreciated.