By Patrick Hedlund
After Village sidewalk cafe and former beatnik haunt Le Figaro closed its doors last month after 50 years on Bleecker St., comes news that its younger, margarita-serving neighbor and N.Y.U. favorite just three blocks east, Señor Swanky’s, has also met its demise.
The self-proclaimed “Mexican Café and Celebrity Hangout,” at the corner of Bleecker St. and LaGuardia Pl., officially shuttered early this month after more than a decade at the location. Co-owner Bob Rinaolo could not be reached for comment by press time, but preservationists in the area rued the loss as another shot to the slowly vanishing Bleecker St. scene.
“We’re definitely really worried about what’s happening to Bleecker St., and it really speaks to both the need for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move on the proposed South Village Historic District, as well as for the city to take some action on the need to preserve small business and mom-and-pop stores in our neighborhood and citywide,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. G.V.S.H.P. is pushing for designation of the aforementioned district. “I’m not saying that every business on Bleecker St. is historic or that we want to save it, but we are worried about the proliferation of banks and chain drugstores that I fear could take over Bleecker St.,” said Berman.
Rosy residential Downtown
Downtown residential real estate saw major gains in some of the area’s prime submarkets, with Chelsea/Flatiron District apartment prices soaring and lofts on the rise in the Village and Soho.
According to a second-quarter report from Halstead Properties, the median sales price of an apartment in the Chelsea/Flatiron submarket was $1,222,500 — up 69 percent from $725,250 in the second quarter of last year. The study, which included studios to four-bedroom units, saw an 11 percent increase in the median price per room for co-ops, and a $73-per-square-foot jump for condos.
The median price of lofts in the Greenwich/East/West Village submarket shot up 63 percent in the second quarter of this year, to $1,212,500 from $745,000 last year. In Noho/Soho, the increase in loft prices went from $1,800,000 last year to $2,400,000 — a 33 percent spike. That represented a $315 uptick in price per square foot for the Village and a $192 jump for Noho/Soho.
Six in at Sinvin
Downtown retail brokerage Sinvin Realty recently bolstered its staff by adding six new agents to its roster, including three on its board of directors.
The boutique brokerage, which has sealed numerous high-profile Downtown deals, including Balthazar restaurant and Dean & DeLuca and Marc Jacobs stores, announced the new hires as part of a planned expansion after co-founder Bruce Sinder’s retirement from the company and subsequent death earlier this year.
Sinvin mined the new staff from a host of Manhattan real estate firms, including Peter C. Oberlink, former V.P./C.O.O. of Manhattan real estate investment company The Brown Companies; Olga Ousmanova, onetime Metro Spire agent; and Christopher Johnson, Eastdil Secured and CB Richard Ellis alumnus — all new members of Sinvin’s board of directors. The company’s three new associate directors represent a younger group drawn from financial, real estate and consulting backgrounds and educations.
“By adding brokers with a breadth of skill and experience, from hands-on fashion expertise to the highest end of the investment sales market, Sinvin continues to offer an even higher level of service while preserving the culture of and sensitivity to the creative industries and Downtown climate,” said Michael Glanzberg, Sinvin’s acting principal alongside Christopher Owles, in a statement.
Hot pink in the red?
While residents who make up the “super-rich” segment of Manhattan buyers appear less affected by the national housing crisis, the properties being marketed to them apparently have not been spared its impacts.
Take filmmaker/artist Julian Schnabel’s hot-pink, Italian-style West Village building Palazzo Chupi, where the asking prices for its top two palatial residences have recently been reduced by millions in their brokers’ listings.
Curbed.com directed us to the most recent price cut, a $2.5 million reduction of the building’s triplex penthouse unit — mirroring the exact same drop that occurred in May at the duplex directly below it.
The discount — from $32 million to $29.5 million for 3,700 square feet in a total of eight rooms — probably won’t entice that many more buyers, but hopefully enough to improve Schnabel’s slumping sales in the five-unit W. 11th St. high-rise.
Corcoran broker Maria Pashby said she was too busy to chat with Mixed Use about the space — maybe because she was inundated with calls from possible buyers just waiting for it to dip below the $30 million mark? Hey, that’s only about 18.5 million euros.
Mixed Use has been having fun toying with rentometer.com, a Web site that allows users to calculate the details of their New York City residences to check their monthly rent payments against neighbors in the area.
By entering their address, zip code, current monthly rent, number of bedrooms and number of units in the building, users can see how their apartments rank based on the median price of other properties in the area.
For instance, if a tenant paid $950 a month to live in a one-bedroom in the building at 47 E. Third St. — the current site of a contentious battle between the new owners and longtime rent-stabilized tenants, who pay between about $500 and $1,000 a month — he or she would fall well below the $2,500 median price for that type of unit in the neighborhood.
The site also provides a map that locates the comparison units in the area, so residents can build even more envy from the comfort of their 200-square-foot studios.