Duane Reade, Starbucks and Chase All Close on One Block; ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ Corporate Meltdown Has Neighbors Nervous

Duane Reade will be closing its three-level store at 325 Columbus Avenue on 75th Street, the company said in a sign on the door. The news comes after two other chains closed on the same block — Starbucks shuttered its cafe across the street earlier this year, and Chase Bank announced in September that it was closing its branch on the north half of the Duane Reade block.

A spokesperson for Walgreens, which owns Duane Reade, did not respond to a request for more information on why it is closing. Walgreens is also shuttering other neighborhood locations.

Corporate chains were once the bogeyman on the Upper West Side, but some outlets have been embraced. The Starbucks that closed had a devoted clientele who petitioned the corporate office unsuccessfully to keep it open. Locals are getting nervous — if the big guys can’t pay the rent, or don’t want to, who will move in?

“The [Duane Reade] space is absolutely massive with three floors, I have no idea what could possibly be able to come in and afford the space,” wrote Michelle Collins in an email to West Side Rag.

Our tipster Kevin, who sent the photo above, worried that few business can make it in the area anymore.

“I’m increasingly concerned for the quality of the neighborhood with this latest closing. If Duane Reade, Chase, and Starbucks all can’t operate profitably here, how can anything survive? I’m not sure what the landlords of these addresses are planning on for the future, but these are very large spaces with massive rents and I imagine they’ll need to subdivide it. If it wasn’t for Asset opening and Da Capo, this block would look post-apocalyptic.”

NEWS | 83 comments | permalink
    1. Sherman says:

      Are these businesses closing solely because of high rent?

      There are Duane Reades, Starbucks and Chase Banks all over the neighborhood and city. Maybe there is overcapacity and their managements decided to close these locations for strategic purposes.

      I doubt high rent is the sole reason for the closures. Most landlords would prefer reputable chains like these to occupy their space as they would likely not miss rent payments or cause much trouble.

      • chains says:

        Big business can afford to invest in such locations initially, even earmark some portion to “marketing” expense. Over time though if their revenues don’t cover expenses adequately then they shutter the locations to cut their losses. As with all businesses, the budget just isn’t working, even for the big guys. There are many pharmacy/convenience chains all across the city doing this. Same with starbucks around the city too. It’s not just UWS but sometimes does have the drastic effect when they are clustered together like this.

      • B.B. says:

        Banks are slimming down their footprint as well. Capital One closed many NYC branches as have other banks.

        Banking industry overall is moving same as retail, there is a push towards online, and or consolidation of branches to save costs. Again because of online/technology fewer people need to visit bank branches on a regular basis.

    2. sam says:

      this is a long shot, but maybe it’s not entirely about money – these two businesses surround Asset, which just opened. it’s possible that the building (which itself has been undergoing renovations) may be looking for less…conglomerate…tenants to build out the entire blockfront as well?

    3. Logan says:

      Well damn

    4. CityGirl says:

      The HSBC branch at 74th Street is closing in December, as well…

    5. Kandice Thorn says:

      Maybe landlords will finally relent and allow the small businesses back in the neighborhood! One can hope….

    6. Barb says:

      Supplements are so much cheaper on Amazon. I try to go to local stores to support them, but then again, 20% off and more is quite tempting. I always see people complain here on this site that corporations make streets ugly and uniform and look like a mall. I say it’s better than an empty storefront. UWS is becoming a bit of a ghost town. Not good.

    7. Sparky5 says:

      Rents will adjust and new businesses will move in. Life will go on. The free market works well.

      • Mutaman says:

        Right its working real well on Broadway: Typical block: Wallgreens, empty unit, bank, nail salon, empty unit.

      • EricaC says:

        It works well …. over the long term. The short term can be another question. There is nothing illegitimate about trying to hasten the rationality.

    8. Maddi says:

      I guess the upper west side won’t have one of these within 3 seconds walk any more. I work at the museum of natural history – on my walk home of 10 blocks there were 4 chase banks – now there will be 2. There were 3 Duane Reads. Not suppirsed. Now we need to see if the rents will become reasonable enough so non huge chains can bring one interesting stores back in our “hood.

    9. T says:

      That sucks. I used that chase atm a lot and I use the Duane Reade all the time. Thanks new york taxes

    10. Alan says:

      The only business that makes money is the greedy landlord.

      • Jay says:

        A lot of the landlords in the neighborhood are your neighbors. Co-ops, condo buildings, etc own a lot of those store fronts.

        If you think they are getting rich, you should tell them. They might tell you all about how much taxes and fees have gone up or about how much paperwork the city now requires.

    11. LKLA says:

      I know this is the narrative folks on here seem to want but why is the opinion that these businesses are closing due to high rents being put forth as fact?

      Could it be that perhaps Duane Reade, Chase and Starbucks have opened other locations, maybe even paying higher rents in those locations? Could it be that these businesses are strategically moving resources elsewhere?

      Of course not, it must be the rents, right? Has to be, right? Only thing that would cause a business to close, right?

    12. kathleen connors-lunz says:

      I sense that locals are supporting small business. If the space can’t get filled the landlords will realize that there pricing is to high and adjust to a fair market value. Also we must petition and push for legislation to take away the tax decuction for business’s choose to leave store fronts open waiting for an even bigger ‘Flagship ” to move in. So glad to have many small businesses in the area that I can go to.

      • Anon says:


        What loophole are you referring to? The only one I am aware of is if you don’t make any money you don’t pay taxes. That’s not a loophole.

    13. James C. says:

      They need to put a Planet or Retro Fitness in the huge space that Duane Reade is leaving on 98th and Columbus..

    14. George says:

      These blocks do not have naturally high foot traffic. And I think it’s a long-term, structural distinction based first and foremost on subway locations. Therefore, market-saturated brands like Chase, Duane Reade, and Starbucks are not going to flourish in those spaces. There’s no reason to go to these locations when enough of us have another location in the neighborhood that’s more convenient to our apartments, daily commute, etc.

      So what those blocks need to do is redefine themselves. I think ASSET is a step in that direction: something totally unique that you cannot find anywhere else in the neighborhood. As the rents for these spaces inevitably drop, look out for more unique restaurants and service-based businesses to open here, rather than big chain stores. There’s going to be some short-term unpleasantness with the emptying spaces, but this is a shift that was going to happen eventually.

      • Stephen Harman says:

        They have a huge foot traffic on school runs. That’s why they Starbucks was so popular. 3 schools within a block.

    15. B.B. says:

      Given high costs of doing business in this state/city (including new $15/hr. minimum wage) on one hand, versus fact nearly everything in these stores can be had online often much cheaper on the other, it just doesn’t make sense to keep these huge stores open.

      DR, Walgreen’s, and the rest all opened these huge stores when retail landscape was quite different. Now they are being hammered by online just like everyone else. Add to this you often have Walgreen’s, DR, and Rite Aid stores (all part of same parent company now) all within a block or so of each other and you can see how other problems develop.

      • John Connor says:

        Agreed. Amazon Prime, Jet, and their grocery delivery systems have been eating everyone’s lunch (no pun intended). These big commercial spaces are eroding throughout the city.
        It will be interesting to see if NYC is ok with having to cut the commercial real estate taxe revenue and red tape fees in opening up a store as this keeps happening across each neighborhood.

    16. Stef Lev says:

      Bring back Ruelle’s!

      • Phyllis Salta says:

        Tuelles, & RUSKAYS! Would be be FANTASTIC! Too bad many people never knew those restaurants!

      • Weird That Way says:

        Here, here! And we are showing our age!

      • B.B. says:

        Or Grossinger’s Home Bakery which was just one block up @ 76th and Columbus.

        Ironically when Grossinger’s closed, things were moved across the park to Glaser’s Bake Shop in Yorkville. Now that is gone as well….

    17. Richard Sussman says:

      I am a former resident of the upper west side. I lived there in the 80s when small businesses and great restaurants contributed to a great neighborhood.we moved to Alameda, Ca in 1992. The population was 50,000 in a beautiful island city. In 2019 the population is 70,000. No more mom and pop businesses can afford to be here. We just have spoiled rotten tech people who pay anything for their comfort. Traffic is getting horrible and the small town community has been sold to the highest bidder. We are slowly making a permanent move to Port Townsend Washington. A beautiful town on the Olympic Peninsula with 10,000 people, 80% are from NYC and NJ. They have a BAN on chains and big box stores. Small business get incentives from town. Very Refreshing.

    18. Watershed8 says:

      I think that the landlords need to factor in the Amazon effect lower the rent and the stores that go in have to factor in that effect into it’s prices.
      I can’t say how many times I’ve walked in, looked at a price of an item and walked right out

    19. Jonathan Pang says:

      Maybe these landlords should lower their rents?

    20. John says:

      Maybe a good Gentleman’s club will move into the empty space

    21. SJR says:

      I think it’s not the rent so much as the stores are losing customers to the Internet. This is what happens when people choose the “convenience” of sitting in front of their computer ordering online and getting packages delivered to their door. No more stores in their neighborhoods, making neighborhoods less friendly or safe as neighborhoods, making it harder to buy from bricks-and-mortar stores, leading to more buying on the Internet. Watch Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film “Brazil” to see what we are already on our way to. Not nice.

    22. Chuck D says:

      The Duane Reade at Columbus and 98th is closing, and the cashier there said the reason they were closing is that the store is losing money due to theft. He said that DR cut the staff so much, it became ripe for shoplifters who pretty just “shop” there exclusively.

      If so, this is a harbinger of things to come in this city. No one has any money, and no one wants to pay staff.

    23. Jeff says:

      This is a positive and long overdue market correction. Brick-and-mortar drugstores and banks have been hammered by e-commerce and need to be much smaller going forward.

      Example: While Duane Reade closes one enormous store after another, little Joseph Pharmacy was able to open its Wellness Pharmacy sibling right down the street.

      And as others have noted, plenty of other businesses are opening all over the UWS, so this isn’t really indicative of anything other than obsolete business models and overly large retail spaces.

    24. Lis Anderson says:

      Sad these businesses will be gone. Cannot imagine what will replace them. I patronized all of them, over the years.

    25. Lis Anderson says:

      If that scaffolding is still up, that doesn’t help business.

    26. B.B. says:

      Several studies recently released by various city agencies or departments including comptroller all reach same conclusion. Retail vacancies are *NOT* solely caused by high rents, but mixture of several factors.

      High cost of doing business in NYC/NYS including huge amount of regulation is one part of puzzle. The other is quite simply what everyone knows already; technology/internet simply has eroded and continues to erode customer base for many retail places.


      As have repeatedly stated reason why you keep seeing same sort of places opening again and again (food/beverage related or physical fitness), is because so far these are things people are willing to pay for, and competition from internet is less.

      Lets be honest for a moment here; New Yorkers have long been getting ripped off by high prices because in large part there weren’t many other options. Now there are, and retail won’t ever be the same.

    27. Bonnie Rice says:

      Well we don’t have any Wallmart stores in the hood….yet!

    28. B.B. says:

      Back in 2016 rent for this commercial/retail space at 321-329 (official name as building sits on several combined lots) Columbus Avenue was $47,917 per month/$203 per sqft. This included three floors; ground, mezzanine, and basement.

      Building is also known by street address of 57 West 75th Street, and is named “La Rochelle”

      For those who remember prior to DR this space was occupied by “Express” menswear store. Someone else sooner or later will move in; life goes on….

    29. Mark P says:

      Can we get a return of Westside Market??

    30. RabbiGifelte says:

      Lazy UWSiders caused the shutdown of these and dozens of other shops. UWSiders get toilet paper delivered from Amazon. Why bother going out to shop when Bezos brings it to your door

      • TMW says:

        Rabbigifelt…..I try and support UWS businesses but when their prices are exorbitant and employees are rude…I take my business to Amazon…nothing to do with lazy

    31. Z.I. says:

      The HSBC branch one block down will be also closing in December…

    32. Drew says:

      It’s. Not about landlords or $15 minimum. There are not not enough people in these areas to support these behemoth stores they built.
      Everyone thinks the streets are paved in gold. They need to do more research before they open stores.

    33. So a new restaurant is coming on that block next to the Duane Reade where the famous Memphis restaurant was back in the day. Good riddance to duane Reade Starbucks and Chase. There are more than enough of them on UWS.


    34. Frank says:

      The writing is on the wall – we are headed into recession. Rents are over priced especially for walk up retail when Amazon and others exist.

      I also think NYC has hit a local maxima and we should expect regression soon. Tax payers are moving out and selling to stretched bag holders with artificially low interest rates (and hence inflated valuations). Expect massively lower tax revenues in the coming years and NYC headed into a “bad old good days” phase soon as millennials begin to embrace the suburbs with more space and better living. Especially as families come and political unrest accelerates.

      Everything moves in cycles and the 1990-2020 30 year era is coming to an end.

    35. Cranky says:

      The DR at 98th and Columbus is IMHO a victim of the Walgreenification and corporate standardized merchandising. It used to be fantastic: could get everything there in true Duane Reade New York style for your apartment… Food, household, etc. About 2 years ago Walgreens dictated standardized corporate products and the store and shelves were liquidated. Merchandise switched to Walgreens brands, a huge stupid faux luxury makeup section was introduced and all the household products pared down to nothing. That and they slashed staff so it became shoplifting central. So given the huge square footage of that location they needed to maximize $/Sq ft revenue and instead reduced $/Sq ft with tons ô empty space and stuff no one in NY needs. I saw their demise coming 2 years ago when I had to go on Amazon to get Woolite, Glad and household repair products I used to be able to get there on the reg.

    36. Kathy says:

      Are retail landlords still getting enormous tax breaks when their sites remain empty? Is it to their advantage to keep empty spaces? Real estate has been running our lives for decades and it’s time for a change. Bring back the Mom and Pops and let the chips fall where they may.

      • your_neighbor says:

        Landlords have never received any tax benefits for keeping their property empty. When their property is empty they pay less taxes because they have less income. No magical tax breaks for empty property.

        Exactly the same as if you decided to work 4 days a week rather than 5 days a week. Less income = less taxes.

        No doubt the co-op that owns the property (as most of the retail space on the UWS is owned by your co-op living neighbors) is going to be scrambling to get a new tenant so the shareholder maintenance payments don’t have to be increased.

      • Jay says:

        No and no.

        I’m sure all these landlords would love to rent to a “mom and pop” store. There is no incentive to keep assets from making money.

        • Stephen says:

          Depends on the asset. If you own the whole building as a rental then the income or non income and expenses from the retail is offset against the residential income above. Add the reduction in headaches from the retail rental. The income tax bill due to the city vs the property tax bill Durand it becomes more of a wash to leave the space vacant.

    37. lyriclark says:

      Walgreen’s has ruined Duane Reade. Our once New York only drug store has been decimated by the generic Walgreen’s corporation. No longer do we have a convenient neighborhood where everything you want is just steps away. Now it’s cheap nail salons, child daycare centers,bad restaurants, dirty crowded streets, and too many tourists. That’s the UWS today. Anybody else remember Price Wise, Westside Market, Love’s, Ricky’s, Gracious Home, Loehmann’s, Food Emporium, Barnes&Noble etc etc. Also, why on earth do all the stores on Columbus Avenue close at 7pm? Maybe if they stayed open longer, we actually might be able to get what we need AFTER work. Oh well. Something here has to change. East 86th street seems to have it right ..attracting new businesses that become hugely successful for example Ulta. How come they haven’t fallen victim to landlord greed?

      • George says:

        That ULTA space you mentioned used to be a huge HSBC bank location. The bank closed and it sat empty for a couple years before ULTA moved in.

    38. Miranda Smith says:

      What about a supermarket/ food store! Sick of ordering bad produce , meat etc. and/or incorrect items online.

      • LKLA says:

        You have Fairway, Citarella, Trader Joes, Zabar’s, and a bunch of other smaller shops. Is that not enough?

        • Mark P says:

          Fairway is the only one of those which is truly a supermarket. Zabar’s is prepared foods and specialty items. Same with Citarella. Trader Joe’s is proprietary products, highly packaged and processed, like an Ikea for food, and with the same insane crowds. Fairway is very good…it just needs some competition as they don’t stock everything (nowhere does….) and is relatively far away from the West 80s.

          • RF says:

            Fairway is also insanely overcrowded–shopping there has become a full-contact sport. The quality of the produce isn’t what it used to be, and you now have to check expiration dates VERY carefully, or you’re sure to come home with at least one item that is past date. Too many of the lanes have been dedicated to Instacart shoppers, or had the conveyor belts removed so there is nowhere to place the items you’re purchasing, and lines often stretch to the back of the store. Fairway is currently the best we have, but the UWS could use another real supermarket…I’ll keep crossing my fingers for a Wegmans!

            • B.B. says:

              Wegman’s won’t be coming to Manhattan anytime soon. So for now their new store in Brooklyn Navy Yard will have to do.


              Wegman’s doesn’t do “small” spaces, and it would be nearly impossible to find a location in Manhattan with even the minimum square footage they look for in a store.

            • RF says:

              Yes, I know it’s just wishful thinking. One of many, many reasons (not Wegmans, but better grocery options in general) that after 15 years I’m looking to leave the UWS and head for the outer boroughs…

          • Maria says:

            Always amuses me that some folks are devotees of Trader Joes as if it were a hipster paradise. TJ is owned by Aldi, a huge warehouse-style retailer like CostCo or Sam’s Club. In the midwest, Aldi’s sold items in bulk from cardboard cartons on cement floors — and nothing was very fresh or very good. It was, however, cheap to buy large quantities of staples such as rice, spaghetti, generics (remember those?), and served a definite need. Funny to see the upscaling of Aldi’s as Trader Joe.

          • B.B. says:

            Fairway isn’t long for this world, they’re up for sale (again).


            Fairway just closed their store in Nanuet, and more could follow.

            John Catsimatidis Red Apple Group (owner of Gristedes supermarket) has made overtures in past to Fairway so things could get interesting.

            On another note D’Agostino supermarkets are now wholly owned by Red Apple Group. Only one member of the D’Agostino family remains with the company,rest are gone.

            Plans are some Gristedes stores will switch to D’Agostino brand — and vice versa.

    39. Adam says:

      What would you rather do, sit in your PJ’s and order what you need from Amazon, or stand in line while a clerk that wants nothing to do with customer service takes his/her sweet time moving the line along. It’s easy to figure out why these stores are closing.

    40. mkmuws says:

      Sorry but the lazy argument doesn’t apply to NYC. Where we do everything on foot and have to move everything with our bodies. I don’t know any place in the country less lazy. Working people have limited time and energy, and the internet has long been the new business model. What has become lazy is business thinking, or lack thereof – caring only about the bottom line with no imagination about how to earn it. Yes, the answer is brick and mortar for things people need to go out and get/do/experience locally. Doesn’t need to be the tedious things that can be taken care of online. Progress. Evolution. Welcome.

      • RF says:

        Agreed. The “lazy” comment above is unfair and judgemental. I’m not lazy–I work three jobs. BECAUSE I’m always working, my free time is limited. Why should I spend it shopping for paper towels and toilet paper, when I could be seeing a play, visiting friends, or trying a new restaurant? Not to mention that not all of us have the resources to spend $3 on a single roll of paper towels, when an 8-pack can be purchased from Prime Pantry for just a few dollars more (and without needing to lug it home??)

    41. robert says:

      After all the yada yada
      There is something no one is mentioning here
      When all of the storefronts on one block go out, especially when the commercial tenants are corp. with deep pockets, something else is afoot. Such as they have plans with a large retailer to take the space. Such as bed bath &beyond or staples etc. There have been times when a building will empty the stores to gut rehab all the systems. allowing them to rent them for much more

      • George says:

        These are all distinct buildings: Chase in one, Duane Reade in another, and Starbucks across the street. and the restaurant ASSET separates the vacant Chase space from the vacant Duane Reade — so it doesn’t appear to be about consolidation.

    42. ST says:

      When will the state stand up to owners and change the tax structure?

    43. Mark Moore says:

      DR also closed that huge place they had a Columbus and 99th. Apparently they’re weeding out these too-big stores.

      • George says:

        Something that I think the UWS is really lacking broadly, and could do particularly well in this area we’re discussing on Columbus Avenue, is a moderately priced, all-day bistro in the vein of a Westville, Ruby’s, Jack’s Wife Freda, etc. A place where you can reliably go to get breakfast food, lunch, or dinner and drinks and feel like you’re getting modern, well-prepared food in a warm environment. And I’m talking specifically about a restaurant where $15 still affords you some solid dinner options.

        Harvest Kitchen has the right idea, but their price target is clearly around $20+ per plate. And I’d group Friedman’s in this category, but it occupies its own corner being on 72nd Street. But between 72nd and 82nd on Columbus, what fills the gap?

        • B.B. says:

          Good diners are what need to come back!

          Back in the day UWS like rest of city had plenty of good to great diners. Most were open 24/7 and served a need. True you had plenty of greasy spoon joints, but there was quite a range.


          • George says:

            A good diner, particularly on Columbus Avenue, would be wonderful. It was exciting to see Viand opening a new location at Columbus and 85th, but a Greek omelette there is now $16. Maybe it’s me, but I find that to be a little outrageous for breakfast. And I think diners have a narrow appeal when it comes to the dinner crowd — or at least unless they modernize a bit more. Green Kitchen at 84th on the Upper East Side has the right idea, but their food still isn’t quite good enough to justify the $$. They did a great job with the space, though.

            I think something like Ruby’s or Jack’s Wife Freda are the modern answer to the diner: spaces that appeal to a wider range of folks, particularly younger people. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a wide range of choices, but have more focused menus, have a bit of a twist (Jack’s Wife Freda tends to offer mediterranean food, while Ruby’s has an Australian bent) and execute everything very well. Even something like Coppelia — the 24/7 Cuban diner in Chelsea — is a good example of modernization: it feels inviting no matter if you’re grabbing coffee and eggs for breakfast, or taking a date for dinner.

    44. Deborah Hautzig says:

      M daughter just went to theCottage restaurant (77th and Amsterdam) and was horrified to see a sign that said “Closed for renovation”. Does anyone know if it will really be re-opened?? It has been a neighborhood favorite for at least 40 years (maybe 38). It would be heartbreaking to see it close.

    45. B.B. says:

      Don’t think many of you realize just how dire things are for retail in New York City. And no, it isn’t all about the rents, though that can be part of the problem.

      As stated between state and city regulations NY has long been known as anti-business. The past several years have piled yet more laws and regulations to point many retail is simply not seeing the point.

      NYC now bans asking about criminal background during hiring process. Well a majority of theft in retail long has been from the inside (employees).

      Finding persons competent enough to train and work cash registers long as been an issue. But they also in past needed a clean background check. Now that is off the table, so there is another problem. One reason you see so few bank tellers is places cannot find enough persons who can pass (federally mandated) FBI background checks.

      One reason for the expansion of “cashless” retail is it takes handling money out of the job description.

      • mkmuws says:

        Just patently false, and out of touch or disingenuous. But again no news here, it’s automation, automation, automation. And that bottom line. We are in a new wave of a changing fabric of the kinds of jobs people will have going forward. Some will be automated out, new ones will develop. Maybe read some real news.

    46. UWS Craig says:

      I would like to see the space converted to an Urban Space food court with a noodle shop, artisanal pizzeria, poke, gelato and german bratwurst.

    47. Connie says:

      Big debate here in the comment section is Rent vs. online shopping vs. down-sizing.

      Online shopping/down-sizing doesn’t explain the shuttered storefront on Columbus & W74-75th, next to the about-to-close HSBC bank. Dramatics salon used to be there, and my stylist at that salon told me they moved over rising rent.

      You can’t get a hair cut from the internet. Dramatics is not big enough to downsize. In this case, it is purely rent, plain and simple. And the place has been vacant for over a year.

      Don’t even get me started on the deli that used to be in where the Zuckers is now, W73rd & Columbus. That deli was a neighborhood mainstay for years, with people writing poems about that store. The owner said the landlord forced them out with high rent. And people petitioned, begged(!) the landlord to lower the rent to keep it going. But no! Greed ruled the day. The space was empty for at least 2 years before Zuckers moved in.

      If there’s no tax incentive for empty store front, then please tell me why these places were left empty and are still empty? For years! Not months, but for years. Where’s the free market to address this now?

      It’s definitely the rent.

      • mkmuws says:

        The discussion is over the fact that it is the rent for mom-and-pop and downsizing for big-box.

    48. Amy says:

      Duane Reade in the shopping area at 97th and columbus is also closing. Last day is Monday. Theyre almost all cleared out with some cosmetics and greeting cards(90% off!) and some other odds and ends.

    49. Nic says:

      HSBC is leaving too

    50. wombatNYC says:

      On the opening front .. A new window blinds store is opening between 88th and 89th of the West Side of Broadway. chalk one up for Broadway