By: Nick Garber, Patch Staff

Patch found 42 empty storefronts on 125th Street between Broadway and Third Avenue last week, a lower vacancy rate than in some other neighborhoods.

HARLEM, NY — For years, New Yorkers have observed growing numbers of vacant storefronts in the neighborhood. And that was before the pandemic.

The rise in retail vacancies has been well-documented in New York City, having grown from 4 percent to 5.8 percent between 2007 and 2017. Now, the coronavirus threatens to unleash a retail apocalypse, having already shuttered scores of beloved neighborhood eateries and other businesses facing unfulfillable rent payments and a lack of government aid.

All told, 42 stores sat empty along that stretch — not counting active construction sites or businesses that shut down during the pandemic but have pledged to reopen at a later date. That's a rate of nearly one vacancy per block.