Considering that only banks can afford to rent ground-floor spaces in Manhattan these days, Danny Meyer has a bold suggestion: the waterfront! Discussing the future of public life with New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger at a forum of the Design Trust for Public Space, Meyer noted that rent pressures had grown absurd in the island's heart. (Starting rent for Union Square Café in 1985: $8 per square foot. Asking rent for the Zen Palate space on Park Avenue South: $300 per square foot.) His solution? "We have all these appendages to Manhattan called piers, and if the city took the opportunity to rent those spaces only to small businesses, that would be a vigorous signal," he said. Meyer said he'd learned that restaurants must echo their surroundings, which we realize means a new Union Square operation would have to carry themes from Whole Foods and Max Brenner. "If we ever do another Shake Shack, we'd want it to look like where it is. The fascination of doing something in a sports stadium jazzes me." Oh, yeah? Citi Field is looking better and better. Alec Appelbaum
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