Volume 78 - Number 35 / January 28 - February 3, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Jefferson Market buyout

After months of speculation over the fate of Jefferson Market on Sixth Ave., the longtime mom-and-pop grocer will reopen under chain ownership.

Supermarket heavy hitter Gristedes has taken over the store space between W. 10th and 11th Sts., as first indicated by a “Now Hiring” sign recently placed in the window with the company’s phone number listed.

Signs went up at the store last fall stating that the market had been closed for renovations following a rough summer for the 40-year-old, family-owned grocer. Co-owner Louis Montuori had said back in October that he was working with an unnamed partner to get the store up and running again, which now appears to be potential mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, owner of the Gristedes supermarket empire.

A Gristedes spokesperson confirmed the news on Monday, stating that all the original Jefferson Market employees, as well as the store’s name, will be retained in the conversion. The interior has been reconfigured to maximize space from wall to wall, and the Montuoris will remain on as co-owners. The spokesperson added that the store should be open “within in the next few weeks” after the new products are stocked. Montuori did not respond by press time to a request for comment from The Villager.

Gristedes also operates a pair of its 30-plus Manhattan stores only a few blocks from Jefferson Market — one in Sheridan Square and the other on W. 14th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves.


43 MacDougal movement

The city has finally stepped in regarding the worsening conditions at 43 MacDougal St., the Soho building that has been left in disrepair for decades, as the derelict property continues to suffer from vandalism and owner neglect.

The vacant three-story building, located at the corner of King St. in the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District, had its window broken, a fire escape pulled down to the street and excrement smeared across the property’s front earlier this month. In response, the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation contacted various city agencies to take action, getting the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development to make the necessary repairs.

G.V.S.H.P. also followed up with an inquiry to the Landmarks Preservation Commission about the festering problems, with L.P.C. responding that it would begin fining the owner $5,000 per month for failure to reply to repeated violations.

“If the owner continues to be nonresponsive, litigation may be commenced to compel repairs to be made,” the commission stated in its letter.

G.V.S.H.P. — which has also noted the building’s rodent problem and the accumulating refuse outside it — is now pushing L.P.C. to pursue a “demolition by neglect” case against the owner that would result in court-ordered repairs.

“The problem with the tack being taken by the city is it requires the situation to get unbearably and untenably bad before they take serious action,” said Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director, who likened the court proceeding to the previous one at the East Village’s Skidmore House. “Unlike with the Skidmore House, where there were no adjacent properties to suffer from the deteriorating conditions, 43 MacDougal shares party walls with neighboring buildings, and is directly across the street from a school. We therefore need the city to take even more decisive action than they did with Skidmore,” Berman stressed.

L.P.C.’s allusion to a “demolition by neglect” consideration marks “definitely the most encouraging” reaction from a city agency to date, Berman told Mixed Use, although the city would need to move quickly since the building has progressively deteriorated.

“It feels somewhat Sisyphean at the moment,” Berman noted of his organization’s efforts, “but I’m confident that we’re going to get there.”

According to neighbors who are familiar with the building’s owners — an elderly husband and wife — the landlords might be too out of touch to with the situation to willingly address the issue.

“I don’t think these owners are going to do it on their own or are capable of doing it on their own,” Berman said.



Flatiron to go hotel

After officially closing on a deal this month to take over majority stake of the iconic Flatiron Building, an Italian investment group has announced plans to eventually convert the 23rd St. landmark into a hotel.

The Rome-based Sorgente Group bought more than 50 percent of the historic structure over the summer and plans to continue increasing its share while transforming the 22-story, triangle-shaped building into a world-class hotel, according to the Daily News. The group will reportedly buy out the Fifth Ave. address’s current tenants over the next decade before converting it into a hotel in an area already zoned for such use.

The postcard-friendly building is estimated to be worth $190 million, and Sorgente’s Historic and Trophy Buildings Fund also recently bought and sold an interest in another famous landmark, Midtown’s Chrysler Building.


Heavy lies the crown

Apparently, selling cheap hot dogs in today’s ailing real estate market still isn’t enough to pay the rent.

Papaya King — the progenitor of sinfully inexpensive franks and tropical-fruit smoothies — has put its location at 14th St. and Seventh Ave. on the market.

According to a listing for the space, the landlord is looking to ink a new 10-year lease for the 600-square-foot corner property with 3 percent annual increases, or sell it straightaway for $250,000.

Established in 1932 by a Greek immigrant, Papaya King — no relation to Gray’s Papaya or Papaya Dog — also operates locations on the Upper East Side and in Harlem.


Pier 57 public hearing

The people will have a chance to weigh in on the newest proposals for the development of Pier 57 next month at the Hudson River Park Trust’s first public hearing regarding the project.

The Trust, in conjunction with the Hudson River Park Advisory Council and Chelsea’s Community Board 4, will present the three development teams’ proposals for the pier, located off W. 15th St., at the Feb. 12 hearing. The trio of designs — from The Related Companies, Youngwoo and Associates and a partnership between the Durst Organization and C&K Properties — will be displayed and detailed by the teams before the public portion of the hearing.

The Trust issued a request for proposals, or R.F.P., last June and unveiled the winning bids in November after an earlier proposal by the Witkoff/Cipriani Group to develop the pier sunk in late 2007.

The hearing will be held on Thurs., Feb. 12, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Hudson Guild Fulton Center, at 119 Ninth Ave. between 17th and 18th Sts. The agenda includes an informal display of the proposals from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.; introductions and overviews from 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; presentations by the development teams from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and the public hearing from 7:30 p.m. on.

mixeduse@communitymediallc.com

mixeduse@communitymediallc.com

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