Locals gripe about recent rash of ‘junkier’ graffiti in NYC neighborhood

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Soho is under siege by graffiti vandals — and local merchants and residents fear the spray-painted eyesores are turning the upscale enclave into a “junkier,” down-market mess.

The Manhattan neighborhood has been targeted in recent weeks by a scourge of scrawlings on everything from storefronts to staircases, with shop owners telling The Post on Wednesday they worry the unsightly scenes are costing them business.

“The graffiti isn’t great for walk-in traffic,” said Brianna, a local hairstylist at Thomas Taft Salon on West Houston Street. “I know next door’s Modern Acupuncture is struggling.”

She added, “The graffiti drives down the way we look — makes us look junkier and we are in Soho.”

The decidedly unartistic vandals have hit upscale shops including the Rebecca Minkoff store on Greene Street, which was splattered with white paint and defaced with a cartoon skull figure, and the Alice and Olivia store next door, which had its window tagged.

All of the windows at the Hollister Co. store on Broadway were covered in spray paint, as was the street-front elevator at a loft on Mercer Street, where the letters “BLM” were painted in bold red letters.

Store barricades are filled with graffiti in Crosby St. in SoHo on June 2, 2021.
Store barricades are filled with graffiti in Crosby Street in Soho on June 2, 2021.
Stephen Yang

The graffiti left some Soho workers feeling disgusted.

“I feel very upset about people disrespecting the neighborhood,” artist Jessica Higgins said. “It’s not OK.”

Resident Lee V. added, “We pay a lot of money for rent. It’s outrageous.”

One local vented their frustrations on the Nextdoor app, saying the city is doing nothing to thwart the vandals.

“Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any campaign to stop graffiti so it is becoming rampant in Soho and throughout our city,” the resident wrote. “As long as there isn’t any effort to stop it, this will continue to worsen.

A woman walks by a wall of graffiti in Crosby St. in SoHo on June 2, 2021.
A woman walks by a wall of graffiti on Crosby Street in Soho on June 2, 2021.
Stephen Yang

“It’s heartbreaking to see storefronts and now homes fall victim to this abuse.”

Another user posted, “IT TRASHES THE AREA.”

In a statement Wednesday, the NYPD said cleanup efforts in Soho were carried out in April and May.

But a stroll through the neighborhood Wednesday turned up several can’t-miss instances of graffiti.

A department spokeswoman urged locals to notify police of any unwanted graffiti in the area, while saying one vandal was busted in the neighborhood as recently as Tuesday.

Shoppers walk by graffiti in Houston and Broadway in SoHo on June 2, 2021.
Shoppers walk by graffiti on Houston and Broadway in Soho on June 2, 2021.
Stephen Yang

“The NYPD encourages these building owners or their representatives to reach out to the department and express interest in participating in the graffiti program,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie said. “The NYPD needs permission from the building owner or the individual authorized by the building owner.”

Locals also agreed it’s hard to miss the urban art splattered around Soho.

“My complaint is the random, uninvited desecration and vandalism of property that leaves property owners, retail businesses or the city stuck with the cost to be removed,” Soho resident Jennifer Marshall said.

A man lies back on windows splattered with graffiti on Houston and Broadway in SoHo on June 2, 2021.
A man leans against windows splattered with graffiti on Houston and Broadway in Soho on June 2, 2021.
Stephen Yang

“No one wants an uptick in criminal acts of defacement of property in any neighborhood,” she added. “And this is what I’ve been observing of late.”

David Martinez, a concierge at a Broadway apartment building, said the recent COVID-19 shutdown that forced many Big Apple shops to close is part of the problem.

“Only reason the graffiti increases is because stores are closing down,” he said. “Very late at night people come and spray. It’s not very neat, unlike the ’80s. It’s just a random person. I’m sorry to say, but idiots are doing this to put their name on a building.”

People walk by spilled graffiti paint on Greene St in SoHo on June 2, 2021.
People walk by a retail store with graffiti paint on Greene Street in Soho on June 2, 2021.
Stephen Yang

Nonetheless, one Soho business was OK with the neighborhood’s new look.

“I run an art gallery, so for me, having street art in front is a bonus,” said Paun Henkel, owner of the PALO Gallery.

“I have never had a problem with less walk-ins or foot traffic,” Henkel said. “If anything, it brings back character into the neighborhood. Graffiti drew me to this neighborhood.”

Graffiti is found outside an apartment building in Mercer St in SoHo on June 2, 2021.
Graffiti outside an apartment building on Mercer Street in Soho on June 2, 2021.
Stephen Yang

Additional reporting by Tina Moore

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