Volume 77 / Number 39 - Feb. 27 - March 04, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Trinity mystery project
Whatever comes next to the prime Canal St. plot between Sixth Ave. and Varick St. won’t stay long, as owner Trinity Real Estate is planning for temporary use at the site on the Hudson Square-Soho-Tribeca border before eventually developing a permanent addition to the area.

Trinity senior real estate planner Erin Roeder told Mixed Use that an “interim use” is planned for the site, where an office building that was on the site was recently demolished. Trinity doesn’t plan to build a permanent structure there for “the next year or two,” Roeder noted, adding the site, bordered on the north by Grand St., will most likely not house an office building — which represents the majority of the company’s holdings.

“We’re looking at uses that we think would make the neighborhood and the community happy in the interim,” Roeder said, without mentioning any specific uses or development plans in the future beyond that.

Canal West Coalition President Richard Barrett believes Trinity is stalling at the site until an expected rezoning of the area takes place, in which case, he said the Downtown real estate heavy hitter would likely look to develop a mixed-use project. He said he’d like to see a Greenmarket at the site in the interim.

Whatever the case, look for something prominent to rise there in the future, since “it’s kind of the entryway to the Hudson Square neighborhood,” Roeder added. “In that sense, it’s prime.”

Florent gossip
Ever since the announcement that historic Meatpacking District restaurant Florent might shutter after a spat with its landlord, rumors have swirled about the famed Gansevoort St. eatery’s future — and the broader future of the increasingly upscale neighborhood.

A recent item on Web site Eater.com quoted an anonymous source who reported overhearing one of the restaurant’s staff intimating to a patron that the space would, in fact, remain operating as is, despite recent legal troubles.

An e-mail response from owner Florent Morellet to Mixed Use would neither confirm nor deny the scuttlebutt, with Morellet maintaining he intends to stay open past the end of his lease on March 31. He also plans to celebrate theculmination of Gay Pride Week on June 29. So customers can at least hold out hope that the restaurant will last until summer.

“I believe we will have a clearer answer once Judge Matthew Cooper makes a decision, which he hasn’t done yet, three weeks after we appeared in his chamber,” Morellet added of the suit filed by his landlord to collect back rent payments. Morellet has responded with a countersuit claiming overpayment of real estate taxes.

An employee at the restaurant backed up Morellet’s claim that they’re trying to keep the restaurant running at least until Gay Pride Week.

Either way, Mixed Use imagines Florent has received a boost in business as patrons scramble to get in one last bite before Florent possibly bites the dust. Mon dieu!

Contemporary Bowery
The Bowery continues to prove a desirable draw for art tenants, with formerly Chelsea-based gallery DCKT Contemporary opening in the emerging Lower East Side-area district next month.

Joining the neighborhood’s major contemporary institution the New Museum a block to the north, DCKT marks its foray into the neighborhood with 1,800 square feet on the ground floor at 195 Bowery, near the corner of Spring St. Gallery owners Dennis Christie and Ken Tyburski originally opened on W. 24th St. in 2002, but opted to migrate to the more mixed-use and diversified environment of the Lower East Side, Christie said.

“It just becomes sort of numbing to not have a break,” he noted of Chelsea’s cluster of galleries. “I think that things become more memorable when there’s some breathing space.”

DCKT’s new digs, on the first floor of a condo building at the location, is currently being built out for an official March 20 debut. The tenants signed a 10-year lease for the space, but Christie wouldn’t reveal how much DCKT paid — only that they probably would have ponied up twice as much for the same size space on a ground floor in Chelsea. But according to Prudential Douglas Elliman, which represented the building’s owner, prices were in the $80 per-square-foot range.

Opening the Vault
Leading employment firm Vault.com is the next media tenant to take space in Hudson Square with the announcement this week that the job-search Web site would move into 25,000 square feet of space at 1 Hudson Square.

Vault — which provides extensive information for both employers and prospective employees about major corporations and law firms — is relocating from 150 W. 22nd St. in Chelsea to its new eighth-floor office, which also features a 7,500-square-foot outdoor terrace. According to property owner Trinity Real Estate, asking rents at 1 Hudson Square are in the mid-$50s per square foot.

“Now in its second decade, Vault revolutionized the process of hunting and preparing for a job,” said Carl Weisbrod, president of Trinity Real Estate. “It continues to be an industry leader and vital resource for both job seekers and the hiring community.”

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