Volume 79, Number 28 | December 16 - 22 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Landmarking Westbeth?

Efforts to designate the Westbeth housing complex as a U.S. landmark moved forward last week after the National Register of Historic Places accepted its nomination.

According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which offered the nomination, the National Register selected Westbeth because the complex’s conversion to artists’ housing was found to be of “extraordinary significance” despite its occurring less than 50 years ago, the benchmark usually required of potential landmarks.

The five-building, 384-unit residence — bounded by Bethune and Bank Sts., from Washington to West Sts. — represents the largest living and working facility for artists in the world. The site was bought from Bell Laboratories in 1967 and opened in 1971, with the buildings’ interior design undertaken by “starchitect” Richard Meier.

“The listing recognizes the extraordinary importance and impact of this first large-scale adaptive reuse of an industrial building for residential use, and this first subsidized housing for artists in the United States,” read a statement from G.V.S.H.P.’s executive director, Andrew Berman.

In October, the state accepted the society’s nomination for listing in the New York State Register of Historic Places, and both state and national designations could qualify Westbeth for grants and loans for restoration and maintenance work.

In addition, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission voted in October to calendar the complex for a review hearing, something G.V.S.H.P. hopes will occur by early next year.

Leasing keeping pace

Office leasing in Midtown South remained stable in November with lease deals totaling more than a quarter-million square feet, keeping the area on pace with its monthly average.

According to CB Richard Ellis’s monthly market report for Midtown South — which covers Union Square, Noho/Soho, Tribeca/Hudson Square, Chelsea, Flatiron and Park Ave. South/Madison Square — the neighborhoods counted 270,000 square feet of lease signings in November. That figure comes in slightly under Midtown South’s five-year monthly average of 280,000 square feet, and marks the third month of strong leasing this year (270,000 square feet in October and 280,000 square feet in June).

The Flatiron District, Union Square and Noho/Soho submarkets all stayed on pace with their monthly averages, recording lease totals of 40,000 square feet, 20,000 square feet and 20,000 square feet, respectively.

Tribeca/Hudson Square had only one signing last month — the Brennan Center for Justice’s 14,000-square-foot lease at 161 Sixth Ave. — significantly trailing its monthly average of 60,000 square feet. Chelsea also lagged behind its 60,000-square-foot monthly average by posting only 10,000 square feet of activity in November.

The Park Ave. South/Madison Square submarket led the way by accounting for 160,000 square feet of leasing, more than doubling its monthly average of 70,000 square feet.



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