Volume 77 / Number 32 Jan. 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Mixed Use

Villager photo by Tien-Shun Lee

Developer Morris Platt, right, oversaw construction work on Monday on a new building going up at Ludlow St. near E. Houston St. next to EarthMatters Organic Market.

By Patrick Hedlund

Amazin’ Village deal
With all the money the Mets spend on talent that can’t even get them into the postseason, owner Fred Wilpon finally recently scored a winning deal by reportedly closing on the purchase of the Village’s Devonshire House apartment complex for a reduced price.

A report by the New York Post on Tuesday stated that the 131-unit, Emery Roth-designed apartment complex in the Village sold to Wilpon’s Sterling American Properties for $110 million in December, after an earlier $123 million deal fell through last summer when the housing market was rocked by the national mortgage crisis.

A source familiar with the deal confirmed some of the information reported by the Post, but noted it was a closed transaction and couldn’t speak to details regarding the buyer.

The complex at 10th St. and University Pl. contains market-rate, rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units, which will reportedly be converted to condos. The deal was handled by Eastern Consolidated representing the sellers.

“In my opinion, it’s one of the prime spots in the Village, and architecturally it’s a very prominent building,” said the Mixed Use source. “I think that whatever plans the owner has for the property, it’s a great investment.”

Now if Wilpon’s other ventures could only find success down the stretch…

Dani done in Hudson Sq.
Hudson Square Italian restaurant Dani has officially closed its doors just two years after opening, leaving local diners with one less option in the fledgling mixed-use neighborhood.

The eatery will now act as a special-events space for private and corporate functions only, confirmed the restaurant, which is located at 333 Hudson St. near Charlton St.

“If Dani were two blocks farther east or five blocks farther north it likely would have thrived,” read a post on food blog Eater.com’s comment board. Those locations would have placed it on the fringes of Hudson Square’s still-settling boundaries.

Local restaurateur Phil Mouquinho said he was saddened by the news but saw it coming, because “it’s a simple question of too many restaurants chasing too few people” in the area.

“There’s not enough [customer] traffic to support day-to-day business,” added Mouquinho, who was owned P.J. Charlton Italian Restaurant on Greenwich St., a block west from Dani, for 28 years. Had the space been able to operate a bit longer, it could have benefited from the business of big incoming tenants, he said, such as Viacom and other media firms flocking to the area.

“In three months there’s 3,000 people moving across the street,” Mouquinho noted. “Those are people that have not been here for 50 years.”

L.E.S. food fright
The perpetual flurry of development on the Lower East Side is threatening the life of another independently owned shop in the neighborhood, with two large-scale buildings rising on Ludlow St. and chain stores closing in.

Isaac Tapiero, owner of the six-year-old EarthMatters Organic Market at 177 Ludlow St., said his store has seen a decrease in business as a result of the rapid pace of construction near his establishment, including a nearby mega-store.

“We’re about to close,” he said. “We have no business because of Whole Foods and the construction.”

Tapiero blamed the construction work involved with the development of a 17-story hotel-condo and another 24-story hotel on Ludlow St. across from his store for his recent woes, as well as the Whole Foods Market on E. Houston St. and the Bowery for poaching his customers.

“It’s killed a lot of business around here,” he said of the loss of foot traffic due to construction. “The entire Ludlow St. is pretty much dead, besides whoever sells booze.”

Tapiero added his next step would be to directly petition residents with a letter asking for their support to save his endangered operation.

“It’s a survival situation,” he said.

Bleecker retail bonanza
Two street-level retail properties on highly trafficked stretches of Bleecker St. in the Village have hit the market, with food and fashion tenants expected to scoop up the commercial spaces.

The 1,800-square-foot property at 198 Bleecker St. at the corner of MacDougal St. — formerly home to a long string of restaurants and cafes — will likely retain a food-related tenant, with a cafe/bakery, frozen yogurt shop and Indian restaurant expressing interest, said broker Roberto Camacho of Buchbinder & Warren Realty Group. The space was originally slated to house New York City’s first Fatburger location, but a deal with the California-based burger bistro ultimately fell through. The landlord is asking $18,000 per month rent but wants the tenant to agree to a 10-year minimum lease for the space, which includes a basement, full kitchen and sidewalk space for outdoor seating.

The 2,300-total-square-foot space at 277-279 Bleecker St. and the adjoining 32 Jones St. could court a fashion retailer on the restaurant-rich street, including a Hollister Co., Diesel or Dsquared, said Faith Hope Consolo of Prudential Douglas Elliman. Pulling the two properties together will create a “dominant” presence for whichever tenant inks a deal, Consolo said, adding it will be in the $350-per-square-foot range — which she deemed “a bargain” for this tony stretch of the West Village.

B & N out in Chelsea
After closing the doors for the final time on its Astor Pl. location last week, Barnes & Noble now plans to shutter its blocklong Chelsea store at 675 Sixth Ave. by springtime.

The more than 41,000-square-foot space, located along the so-called “Ladies Mile” stretch of Sixth Ave. between 21st and 22nd Sts., will close in March, according to the bookseller. Faith Hope Consolo’s team at Prudential Douglas Elliman is marketing the space for $200 to $250 per square foot, and has already fielded interest from cheap-chic retailers like Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call, as well as home-furnishing outlets Gracious Home, Muji and CB2 (a Crate and Barrel spinoff, not Community Board 2). The property could also be split for separate tenants. Consolo added that either way the landlord would prefer a long-term commitment for the space. She said a lease should be signed within four to six weeks.

Barnes & Noble acknowledged that high rents forced the multimedia retailer out of both locations, but the company did recently open a new store in Tribeca with plans for another on the Upper East Side.

“They just didn’t feel they wanted to spend anymore time here,” Consolo told Mixed Use. “They felt that they had the area covered.”

‘Coffee and communication’
Starbucks denizens who enjoy their $4 lattes with $10-per-day wireless service might want to abandon the chain for the Bowery — where local performance space the Bowery Poetry Club will offer both free of charge.

The announcement over the Mixed Use wire stated the poetry club will be offering complimentary cups of joe and free Internet service simply as a way “to celebrate the New Year.”

“The Bowery is going through huge changes with high-rise capitalism towering over every corner,” read the release from the cafe, located on the Bowery at E. First St. “In this time of transition, the Bowery Poetry Club wants to keep us focused on the essentials: coffee and communication.”

The nonprofit coffee shop also offers free performance art, rather than a selection of Starbucks-endorsed music, so patrons can decide for themselves if they’d prefer listening to a contemporary live vaudeville act or James Taylor’s Starbucks CD while swilling java and surfing the Web.


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