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Bank Branch Will Replace Local Dive in N.Y.'s East Village

TD Bank (TD) is about to remind residents of Manhattan's East Village neighborhood they no longer live in a capital of cool.

The $822 billion-asset bank has leased 4,300 square feet of ground-floor space in a building being built on the site of the former Mars Bar, a graffiti-strewn dive that once stood on the corner of Second Avenue and East First Street, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

The bar, which New York magazine described as being "mostly taken up by a scarred bar with a row of mismatched stools before an assortment of crude (and often rude) paintings behind" and having "a bad smell over by the bathrooms," occupied the first level of a building erected in the 1920s that was later razed to make room for Jupiter 21, a 65-unit residential building that is set to open this spring.

Though TD Bank has 42 stores in Manhattan, including two branches in the East Village already, the prospect of a bank on the site of the former Mars Bar seems to have touched a nerve among residents who lament the gentrification of a neighborhood that was formerly home to punk rockers, artists, poets and drag queens.

"At least it's not another seven eleven but enough is enough," someone with the Twitter handle John Fazz said on Wednesday.

"Welcome to the East Village of 2013, where the former Mars Bar is becoming a [expletive deleted] bank branch," lamented a headline on EV Grieve, a blog that chronicles the East Village.

"What did we do to deserve this," tweeted Chris Faile.

The natives may be restless for a reason. The former home of CBGB, a club where Patti Smith, the Ramones and Talking Heads all played, is now a John Varvatos clothing store. As it happens, the clothing store's renting the space four years ago reportedly prevented the location from being occupied by a bank.

That's not to say banks are underrepresented in the East Village. JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), and others all have outposts in the neighborhood where Allen Ginsberg, Jean Michel-Basquiat and Iggy Pop once lived and that the musical "Rent" later immortalized.

For its part, TD Bank says it looks forward to serving the locals, even if it lacks a liquor license. "When TD Bank enters a neighborhood, we strive to be a good community partner," TD Bank spokeswoman Judy Rusk said in an email. "We build environmentally friendly stores, and give back to the communities we serve."




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