Volume 78 - Number 51 / May 27 - June 2 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Union Square Nordstrom

With the Virgin Megastore liquidating the last of its wares before the multimedia monolith leaves Union Square, department store Nordstrom is inching closer to taking over the prized address on 14th St. and Broadway.

The retailer’s lower-priced spinoff, Nordstrom Rack, is currently working on a deal to take over the Virgin property after it shutters for good in the coming weeks.

According to reports, the department store’s reps have recently been negotiating with the property’s landlord, The Related Companies, to close on the Union Square South space for its first New York City location.

“We’re interested in Union Square, but we don’t have a deal yet,” Brooke White, a Nordstrom spokesperson, told Mixed Use. “We’ve looked at it, we’re talking to them, and it’s a possibility.” A Related Companies spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

While a Women’s Wear Daily report last week had the store negotiating for only the location’s lower level, broker Faith Hope Consolo said Nordstrom would likely take the whole space, including the adjoining property formerly occupied by Circuit City.

“It would be a dream deal,” she said, noting that the company has been shopping for space in Manhattan for quite some time. Consolo added that electronic/appliance retailer P.C. Richard & Son has also shown interest in the Circuit City space despite having a store just two blocks east of the location.

Nordstrom has flirted with Manhattan in recent years, but given the negotiability of today’s market and the store’s regional presence, the deal “definitely makes sense,” Consolo said.

“It would be a very exciting addition to the retail landscape, and very welcome,” she explained, citing the address’s proximity to other cheap-chic department stores in Union Square. “Nordstrom in any form is what Manhattan’s been waiting for.”

Hookah club’s hopes rekindled

The saga of East Village nightclub Le Souk took yet another turn last week when a court ruled to reinstate the much-maligned hookah bar’s hooch license following a revocation last year.

According to a May 21 decision by the State Supreme Court Appellate Division, evidence of overcrowding at the embattled Avenue B nightspot was based on a “‘guesstimate’ that cannot constitute legal evidence” to support the license’s cancellation.

Le Souk has long proved a sore spot for residents living near the popular North African-themed bar, with a never-ending stream of noise complaints coming from its Alphabet City neighbors. After Le Souk was cited for multiple violations in a January 2007 enforcement sweep, the club had its liquor license cancelled in March 2008 for an “extensive adverse history.” However, the bar’s owners appealed the decision, a challenge that was upheld in court due to the inaccurate inspection of the space in 2007.

“We find that testimony that patrons were standing ‘shoulder to shoulder,’ the only evidence proffered by the State Liquor Authority that the premises were overcrowded, is insufficient to support the findings that the petitioner violated” the rules, the court decision stated.

Additionally, the ruling cited inspectors’ failure to perform an adequate head count the night of the investigation, stating that “substantial evidence of a violation of occupancy limits cannot be based on testimony that cavalierly assesses groups of people on a ‘give or take’” basis.

Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, whose board has dealt with Le Souk for years, said she believed the club would reopen because they had reached out to a local block association to discuss the matter.

The club’s owners recently negotiated for a three-level space on LaGuardia Place that formerly housed an Egyptian-themed bar, fueling speculation Le Souk would be reopening there.

News of the reinstatement originally appeared on the nightlife blog Down By The Hipster.

Recession math

How low can it go? That’s the question buyers and sellers have been asking themselves about the ever-unraveling Manhattan real estate market, which forced a formerly $40 million Nolita listing down to $26 million in less than nine months. The $14 million discount at the Candle Building at 11 Spring St. represents a nearly 35 percent slash from its original listing price.

The property — purchased from media scion Lachlan Murdoch in 2006 for $12 million before undergoing extensive renovations — was originally given a $39.8 million price tag when it hit the market last September.

Similar price reductions have occurred at other luxury Downtown buildings, including artist Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi in the West Village, which recently went rental after Schnabel cut prices for its triplex and duplex units from $32 million to $22 million and $19 million, respectively.


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