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The ‘retail apocalypse’ is taking over NYC shopping districts

The “retail apocalypse” that landlords and brokers hate to acknowledge hardly applies to the whole city.

Vacancies are actually scarce in many parts of the five boroughs and even in parts of Manhattan.

But the dreaded “A” is all too real in certain prime shopping districts — especially on Fifth Avenue between East 48th and East 59th streets and along the zone’s 57th Street axis.

The latest big store to bite the dust is Z Chemist at LeFrak’s 40 W. 57th St.

The spinoff of Madison Avenue’s upscale drugstore-department store Zitomer will be closing this month.

Combined with the smaller former Kenjo space next door, the exit will dump nearly 11,000 square feet of prime retail onto the market, according to broker Newmark Knight Frank’s Web site.

The once highly walkable block of West 57th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues now resembles a jungle of spec construction and stalled development sites.

Sure, there are still the fine office building at No. 40 with the great restaurant Nobu Fifty Seven and stores at the block’s eastern end including Bergdorf Goodman and Ermenegildo Zegna. But there are so many vacant stores, construction scaffolds and empty lots that a visitor from Mars might take it for a war zone.

We can only hope that developers including Vornado, LeFrak and Sheldon Solow and investor Jeffries Avlon get moving soon on their go-slow projects.

And fingers crossed that El-Kam Realty, owner of endlessly vacant — except for some pop-ups — 3 W. 57th St., find a permanent tenant for their beautiful building.

Meanwhile, Fifth Avenue south of East 55th Street has many more vacant storefronts than are mentioned in most coverage filled with optimistic forecasts from brokers and owners.

Recently installed “postcard” holiday window displays look better than “for lease” banners but fool no one.

Besides oft-cited vacancies that were once homes to Henri Bendel, Ralph Lauren Polo and Tommy Hilfiger, there are also empty voids previously used by retailers The Gap, Massimo Dutti, Stuart Weitzman, Lululemon and Topshop.

Ten vacancies in eight blocks — that’s 1.25 empty storefronts per block — doesn’t sound so terrible in today’s real estate climate.

But at the same time, most of them are gigantic — such as the three-level former Gap at 680 Fifth Ave. When it closed in January, it left more than 33,000 square feet available.

As the location shares the block with a church, the closing left the entire east blockfront with no stores at all.

It’s a sad blight on a city that proudly calls itself the “shopping capital of the world.”