This summer has been no fruit smoothie for businesses along Pineapple Walk, thanks to the enormous blue scaffolding that transformed the once sunny pedestrian shopping strip into a gloomy cave.
“It’s dark all the time,” said Serena Bellino, owner of the Tailored Pet. “Why would you want to walk underneath it?”
Cadman Towers, the neighboring residential complex, erected the scaffolding in May, along Pineapple Walk, between Henry Street and Cadman Plaza West, a strip that is home to four businesses whose owners grumbled at varying volumes about what they say have been the negative repercussions of the protective plywood.
Bellino — with her established business and cadre of stalwart customers willing to brave the cave for some organic dog food and a chance to pet Primo, the enormous cat — said the negative impact has been mostly aesthetic.
But it’s a different story for Brian Pang, the owner of Brooklyn Dojo, a martial-arts venue that opened this winter.
“I hate it,” said Pang. “I’ve only been here since February, so I have a very limited customer base. The scaffolding has created a barrier that no one would choose to walk under. And then there’s the increase in homeless, and it’s a lot dirtier.”
Mark Nowakowski, the manager of Heights Kids, a toy store, echoed Pang’s complaints about the presence of homeless men and women.
“The effect has been nothing but negative,” said Nowakowski. “During the evening hours, a lot of homeless people stop here and drink. The other day last week, they were breaking bottles on the sidewalk.”
John Lederer, the property manager for the Cadman Towers, said the building has “extended ourselves to prevent any loss of business.”
Indeed, the Towers has purchased advertising promoting the stores and erected three new signs for each business — one on either end of the scaffolding and one underneath. At the merchants’ request, the development has also improved the lighting.
“The scaffolding was really was the only option,” added Lederer. “We’re working with glass and metal [at] 31 stories.”
He projected that the scaffolding would come down by the end of October.
But as far as Pang is concerned, “It can’t go away soon enough.”