Friday, February 19, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and . . . Duane-Reade

The Midtowning of Williamsburg continues

With the temperatures moderating a bit more lately, I had decided I could at least wander around my own neighborhood to see how new construction was progressing. I rarely do that, having a few fixed routes to the subway, the supermarket, and into South Williamsburg when I head off to the library.

So, when I do go down an unfamiliar street I am sometimes taken aback by the appearance a new building wedged into the block, usually something or somewhere totally inappropriate. I thought I might wander out later this weekend and take a survey.

Meanwhile, I had been keeping my eye on the large structure going up on Bedford Avenue near Metropolitan. Until recently it had been covered in scaffolding or netting or just hadn't progressed to the point of being clad so you really couldn't tell what it would look like. I was very much afraid it was going to be another one of those boring green glass things that have been sprouting up around North Brooklyn.

I have to say that when I saw it last week (above) I was pleasantly surprised. It's clad in a sort of cream colored stone or gray depending on the light and doesn't look bad at all.

It's still pretty large, though even the size doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did when it was all scaffolding and girders and cranes and machinery.

When I shot the photos last week I cannot figure out how I missed the large banners on the side and front of the building until this morning. I think I was in a hurry to get someplace else and being nearby with my camra just snapped a few shots and went on. But there was no denying it as I walked past on my way to the L train with my buttered bagel in hand.

I don't want to sound snotty or snobby but I really Do Not Like Duane-Reade. I was so happy to hear that they'd been bought out by Walgreens. Not that Walgreens is any less ubiquitous in New York, but I was hoping I'd never have to see that nauseating red and blue DR logo any more (even though Walgreens will probably keep the stores just as they are). And I've really never forgiven them for buying out and closing down the Rock Bottom drug store in Jackson Heights when I lived there about twenty years ago. A great crowded emporium carrying some of the most out-of-the-way products you'd ever see and one day it had turned into a bland and boring and ordinary (and short lived, as it turned out) Duane-Reade with maybe a quarter of the products.

Just what we need in this neck of the woods; we already have our Chelsea-sized glass and steel mega-apartment buildings screening off the river views, why not more of 6th Avenue? Maybe at the other end of the block, still unreconstructed, we'll get an H & M or a Gap. We couldn't get anything useful like a competitively priced supermarket or a few bank branches.

My city, my borough, but NOT my drugstore. My drugstore is Kings, directly across the street, small and friendly and now decidedly in danger.