The new Target on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Popular chain store Target caused controversy at the opening of the new East Village store at the end of last month because of their homage to former dive bar and music club CBGB and ultimately apologized for the marketing stunt, the New York Times reported at the end of last week.
The new store opened on East 14th Street between Avenues A and B with grand opening festivities on the weekend of July 21 with a vinyl facade depicting tenements and old storefronts, including CBGB, with “TRGT” in the bar’s classic font on the temporary overhang.
Jeremiah Moss, whose blog Vanishing New York and book of the same name document gentrification in the city, called the display a “deplorable commodification of local neighborhood culture” and expressed disgust over the fake storefronts.
“The façade is draped in vinyl sheets printed with images of tenements, the same sort of buildings that get demolished to make room for such developments,” Moss wrote. “Here they sit, hollow movie-set shells, below the shiny windows of the high-end rentals. They are the dead risen from the grave, zombies enlisted to work for the corporation.”
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When the concrete jungle starts exploding, seemingly out of nowhere, shutting down much of a neighborhood for a week (with some buildings still off limits!) the first question is what happened and why? Then of course one has to ask when could this happen again and where? And whose fault was this?
The steam pipes underneath the streets’ surface are Con Ed’s to maintain but the company has not yet been able to explain the cause of such a major pipe malfunction although we can certainly guess. The system and this city’s infrastructure are old. This isn’t the first steam blast to rock a neighborhood and probably won’t be the last. Still, it’s a scary thought that these geysers-in-waiting can shatter right through the concrete at any time.
So it now has to be asked what can be done to prevent future catastrophes like the one in Flatiron last Thursday and whether the city and Con Ed will commit to some plan of action.
It is miraculous that no one was seriously injured as a result of this recent blast. (Just ask our company driver who nearly drove into it had it not been for a red light!) We believe Con Ed and the city are doing a thorough job in inspecting and cleaning the impacted buildings and in communicating their progress. Additionally, on Tuesday Con Ed made a statement on Twitter that once the cleanup is finished the utility would conduct a “thorough investigation” into what caused the pipe to break. That’s a good start. We will hold them to it!