Rising rents and changing demographics have driven Little Italy to the verge of extinction. Once a teeming neighborhood stretching 50 square blocks, it now barely covers three blocks of Mulberry Street — and even that strip is under threat.
“You can’t rebuild Little Italy,” said Robert Ianniello Jr., owner of the famed Umbertos Clam House. “If we go away, it will never be here again. You can’t build an Olive Garden and say it’s Little Italy.”
Ianniello is battling a rent increase from a new landlord who bought the building last month for $17.5 million. He recently got a rent bill for $34,000 a month — more than double what he used to pay.
It’s a landlord problem,” said Ianniello, who heads the Little Italy Merchants Association. “They think this is Fifth Avenue.”
Eight eateries have shut down in the past year.Where are the mob hit men going to find their victims now?