Landlord: 7-Eleven Next to IHOP Could Be a ‘Positive’

ihopDaniel Maurer 239 East 14th Street in background.

It’s official: 7-Eleven is moving in next to the IHOP on 14th Street. A few weeks ago, Larry Guttman, the landlord of 239 East 14th Street told The Local that multiple parties were vying for the building’s storefront. Today, he confirmed that he had signed a lease with the corporate convenience store.

Mr. Guttman said he went with the chain because it seemed “more positive for the area” than the adult establishment before it (Exquisite DVD & Video closed when its lease expired) and preferable to yet another watering hole. “There are so many bars moving into the area that it might just get overwhelmed with that,” he said over the phone today.

“I think 7-Eleven will be a good tenant,” he said, explaining that a 24-hour store would make the block safer by increasing nighttime foot traffic. “The idea of a 7-Eleven which doesn’t issue exhaust or noise – it could be a positive,” he said.

Addressing the idea that a Slurpee emporium might scrub the neighborhood of some of its gritty charm, Mr. Guttman said, “I might be against a national chain in a beautiful tree-lined West Village location but I don’t think the East Village is that type of area. I think it was a blighted area that needed development that certain chains can provide.”

Margaret Chabris, a West Village native who is now a national representative of 7-Eleven, addressed concerns that three new stores (including one on St. Marks Place, currently under construction) would make the neighborhood a blander place. “Having been born there I do understand,” she said. “But having worked for the company as many years as I have, I know what we’re trying to do is share something that’s convenient to the neighborhood.”

7-eleven grand openingDaniel Maurer A clown and a customer outside of the Bowery
location’s grand opening.

Ms. Chabris, who no longer lives in New York, said that the East Village’s 7-Elevens would cater to local needs. “We have a sophisticated retail information system that allows us to know item-by-item and day-by-day what’s selling or not selling so that we make sure the product inventory meets those needs.” She also echoed what one satisfied customer told us during the Bowery location’s grand opening: “We sell a lot-less-expensive cup of coffee, yet very high quality. We use Arabica beans and all that other stuff.”

Ms. Chabris noted that 7-Eleven is “extremely supportive” of small business owners, often helping them convert their delis into franchises.

Mr. Guttman said that before his 14th Street building held an adult DVD store, it housed a laundromat, and furniture store, and other enterprises that simply couldn’t cut it. The cost of business has only increased since then. “Property taxes are dramatic,” he said. “The increases are incredible and they go up steadily every year.”

“It’s very difficult to find tenants who can afford to keep pace,” he said.

He also warned against nostalgia, recalling the neighborhood in the late 1980s. “There were just a lot of drugs and hookers on 14th Street and certainly Third Avenue. There was a crackhouse on the corner of 13th and Third, it was always dangerous,” he said. “I think the neighborhood has turned a corner. We can long back for certain times but it wasn’t a pleasant place to live.”

Update | 3:05 p.m. Ms. Chabris has now told The Local that the St. Marks Place and 14th Street stores will open by the end of July. In addition, construction of another store at 813 Broadway will begin in a few weeks.