Waverly Place and Mercer Street is just east of Washington Square Park. This unique part of town is still world renowned for history, culture, arts, creativity and university intellect. Just the place we need… another Starbucks.
A tip from a local resident that saw the construction led us to scope out the permit posted behind a dumpster. Indeed, a Starbucks is being constructed in the ground floor of 10 Waverly Place at the southwest corner of Mercer Street. It’s formerly the location of Brad’s, a local joint where you could get a coffee, or drink or sandwich, and use the wifi.
This location will bridge the terrible gap between the Astor Place Starbucks, a less than 3 minute walk east, and the other Starbucks a whole 150 seconds by foot in the other direction at 43 West 4th street on the NYU campus. NYU owns the 10 Waverly Place location as well, so this is not a case of a struggling building owner seeking to make a few bucks in rent from whomever they can get. NYU actually has a $3.5 billion endowment — one which the student-formed Alternative Endowment Coalition wants to influence how it is invested (we’re guessing it’s not in more Starbucks).
Is this what this space needs?
What about ground floor space to feature the small businesses and entrepreneurs they serve in their Berkeley Lab, the stated purpose of which is to equip students, alumni, and researchers from across NYU’s campus with the skills and know-how to launch and grow sustainable ventures? Why does yet another outpost of a national retail chain like Starbucks with an overwhelming presence have to go here? Don’t people attend NYU and visit this area because of the unique character and quality of the community? A seemingly quaint sentiment I know, but one shared very widely.
Not content with 9 stores every square mile of Manhattan, Starbucks is reported to be opening a 20,000 sq. ft, “Roastery” at 61 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District in 2018 too. That site is where Prince Lumber had been located since 1923, next to the Apple Store.
This latest case of chain-store proliferation erasing individual and independent businesses is particularly bitter and insulting coming from NYU. The administration’s standing in the local community is at an all-time low, as they begin demolition and construction on their widely-opposed 20-year expansion plan, which currently involves cutting down rows of beloved cherry trees just a few blocks away on Mercer Street.
Of course there are alternatives for coffee. Just down the block, Oren’s Daily Roast started on Waverly Place thirty years ago in 1986! Think Coffee is also on Mercer Street. Fair Folks and Goat has two locations, one on West Houston and one on East 11th Street. If you become a member for $35 a month you can have unlimited coffee, tea, even lemonade. And check out this piece in Gothamist of best coffee shop “offices” in NYC–not a Starbucks on it.