Saturday, February 28, 2009

Virgin Megastore In Union Square To Close! Arrghh! I had a feeling that this was going to happen! Ok, I guess that is enough exclamation marks. The New York Times reports that the store will close at the end of May or early June. This leaves a gaping retail hole on the South end of Union Square between Broadway and 4th Avenue. The block will now be empty with Circuit City's closing next door. 2 Megastores, zero tenants. Ironically, the landlord, Related Companies (partnered with Vornado Realty Trust) owns Virgin Megastores. It's pretty bad when you own the shop, own the store that the shop is in, and still close up shop.

Weekend Update

New Semantics Downplay Excess (NY Times)
Divide And Conquer! Developer Fires Sales Office In Favor Of Individual Agents (NY Times)
New York's Rich Take Their Tax Lumps (Crain's)
What Ails Them? For Citigroup, Mortgages (Reuters)
NY Times To Launch Local Blog Networks (Courier Post Online)
Why New York Will Win The Recession (Gawker)
Deep Into The Marc Drier Scam (American Lawyer)
NYU Students Occupy Facility, Issue Manifesto (The Villager)
Unhappy With Finishes, Buyers Revolt In Chelsea (NY Post)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Just Asking- Anyone care to speculate on who the "professional basketball player" mentioned in the NY Times article on large deposit surrenders, in this case the penthouse at 304 Spring Street, would be? I was thinking Stephon Marbury, but he's a Brooklyn guy. At $7.8 Million, it could be just about any hoops player that isn't a bench warmer.

Friday Morning Links

Plenty of news today!
U.S. Agrees To Raise Stake In Citigroup (NY Times)
Some High Enders Walking On Close To Seven Figure Deposits (NY Times)
Golf, Green Roof, And Water Filtration Plant Mash Up In Van Cortlandt Park (Curbed)
Even The Doorman Wants Out At The Plaza (Cityfile)
Halstead Sues Levy Over Unpaid Fees At Park Columbus (The Real Deal)
Rosen Turns Down $60 Million For His Mansion On 71st Street, Twice! (Observer)
Manhattan Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty In $27 Million Fraud (North County Gazette)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Water Taxi Beach To Open At South Street Seaport? On the heels of news that Water Taxi Beach is to open on Governors Island, word comes to us from via Curbed that another Water Taxi Beach is set for Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. The location makes plenty of sense. It is near the downtown ferry hub, there are tons of tourists, and nobody has bought anything on Pier 17 in so long that they might as well turn to booze.
Helmsley Fortune Will Not Go Solely To The Dogs- A probate judge has ruled that Leona Helmsley's fortune will not go solely to the upkeep of her and other beloved pets. Trouble, Leona's dog, received death threats after news initial surfaced that he was to inherit Billions. That proved to be a bit of an overstatement as trustees were allowed a large degree of discretion in the will. Trouble still receives around $100,000 per year in care and security detail. While Leona was widely known as "the queen of mean", it should not be lost on people that she was one of the most charitable New Yorkers in our history. For full detail, check: Not All Of Helmsley's Trust Has To Go To Dogs (NY Times)

Thursday Morning Links

Traffic Be Damned! Bloomberg To Close Parts Of Broadway To Vehicular Traffic (NY Times)
Silver Proposes $2 Toll plan For East River Bridges (NYDN)
In Many Places It Is Now Cheaper To Own Than Rent (WSJ via TRD)
Park Avenue Sliver Building Gets Name: 1055 Park Ave (Curbed)
NYC Food Inspectors To Grade Restaurants, Force Them To Display Grade In Window (NY Times)
Gowanus Whole Foods Looks Like It's Alive Again (Brooklyn Paper)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Fifth On The Park" Development Company Files Bankruptcy- From the email inbox this afternoon, comes word from Crain's New York, that developer Uptown Partners, whose buildings include Fifth On The Park, has filed bankruptcy. Co-founder and partner Lewis Futterman explains that this is a temporary situation and has noting to do with Fifth On The Park, which is quite healthy (better than 60% sold). Further he explains that "we had another debt due with severe consequences that we could not complete negotiation in time". He expects to pull the bankruptcy filing in the next week.
Flash: A-Rod Shopping Rentals At 15 CPW. According to a NY Post Page 6 article today, Alex Rodriguez, Madonna pal, and prohibited substance injector, has settled for a $30,000 per month pad at 15 CPW. According to, A-Rod's Trump Park Avenue apartment, previously listed at $10 million is now in contract.

McSam's Tribeca Sheraton Slogging Along

(L) From Canal, (R) from Lispenard

McSam's 20 Story North Tribeca Sheraton Hotel is rising. Right now the building, awkwardly straddling an irregular lot on Canal through to Lispenard (between Church and W. B'way), is 12 stories. The hotel is set back a bit from Canal and fills the lot on Lispenard. It is an unusual site. From canal, it looks like it is in the middle of the lot rising from behind old low rise buildings. A Sheraton may seen odd in Tribeca, but considering that it is Canal Street (I got offered 3 Rolex watches walking 3 blocks), it may actually an upgrade. The hotel will house 360 rooms and was originally slated to open mid-2009. We know that won't happen- looks like a year off. While some people knock McSam, he seems to be keeping the NYC construction industry afloat single-handedly.

Wednesday Morning Links

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

(L) Bedroom with double exposure, (C) Kitchen, (R) LR partial

Apartment Flash: $2800-No Fee and lower price for West Village prewar 1 bedroom. A newly renovated prewar on West 12th. New granite and stainless kitchen, nicely refinished hardwood floors, moldings, windowed kitchen. Rare no fee and low price for this landlord. Call 646-237-4170 or email to see this apartment today.
Dunkin Donuts In LIC? The rumor is floating around LIC message boards on LIQCity and QueensWest, that a Dunkin Donuts will be taking a spot at 10-63 Jackson in Hunters Point. If indeed true, it should be interesting to see how LIC residents react and if they are able to make it. While it will be nice to see some new retail on Jackson, which lacks compared to Vernon, I can't say I think that it will be a sure fire hit. Concerns include whether locals will embrace a chain store, amount of foot traffic on that stretch of Jackson, and whether anyone really eats donuts anymore.
Manhattan House Saga Continues- First there was the controversy of tenants who wouldn't leave, then you had hello Dolly Lenz and then goodbye Dolly Lenz. Somewhere along the line a bunch of condos were sold. Now, some buyers who are either unhappy with construction progress or having difficulty getting a mortgage (who said it was easy nowadays) have lawyered up. Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey is representing a group of current owners/buyers. He has a good rep at getting things done and advocating for his clients. On the other side is equally reputable developer O'Connor Capital Partners. It is reported by The Real Deal that O'Connor contends that it is current on its mortgage, has 3 years left and an option for more. Ahhh, a bull market would put this all to rest, wouldn't it? For the full scoop: Manhattan House Developer Maintains Building Is Financially Solvent (The Real Deal)

High Line Gets Windows- From my friends over at curbed, a pictorial of progress on the slightly delayed High Line Park. The newest addition a big window onto 17th Street. Oh, what that window what have revealed 10 or 15 years ago. Sometimes you just have to say, thank God for condos! The lower portion of the park, originally slated for spring is now pushed to June. For all things High Line:
The High Line Construction Chronicles (Curbed)

Flash: Jennifer Aniston To Move To Manhattan: Looks like Soho is about to get a little bit hotter! Reports have it that Jennifer Aniston will be moving to Manhattan to shoot back to back motion pictures and to be with her sweety, John Mayer. Mayer lives in Soho. If they need a bigger place, A. Fine Company, would be happy to help!

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If you are interested in advertising opportunities on A. Fine Blog, just shoot me an email at

"Living Wall" Faces Its Nemesis: Scaffolding

The Green (Brownish) Wall Now (Above)
Lush Green Wall In August (Below)

It's not easy being green. City life is tough and especially tough on plant life trying to cover a wall on East 86th Street. Last August I reported on an inspiring site, a green wall above Pure Yoga. It was lush, green, and beautiful. I figured that the wall would be challenged by a harsh environment during the winter, but this winter features an especially daunting challenge: scaffolding. Seems that The Colorado, the rental building above Pure Yoga is having a little refacing done. That's great and all, but not for the living wall. Now with cold temps and sun being obscured to three quarters of the wall it has turned decidedly brown and bald in spots especially below the scaffolding. So much for a green wall, but hope springs eternal! Warmer temps are coming, and maybe, just maybe, the scaffolding will come down soon (I know that's optimistic-ouch).

Tuesday Morning Links

Bernie Madoff's Penthouse Not So Hot? (Cityfile)
A Sheik Cuts Price At 15 CPW, But Still Turns Millions On Flip (Cityfile)
Curbed Goes Inside One Madison Park's $45 Million Penthouse (Curbed)
LIC Getty To Become Adaptive Reuse Bakery? (Curbed)
Top Marcus & Millichap Exec Accused In $200 Million Sham Sale (The Real Deal)
Westchester Agencies Slim Down, Close Branches (NY Times)
Subway Ridership Falls For First Time In Five Years (CityRoom/NYT)
Dubai's $10 Billion Bailout (CNN/Money)

Monday, February 23, 2009

LIC Update: Pepsi Sign Takes Shape

The Pepsi Sign is almost back in LIC. Well, partially. Right now it spells "PEIC". I did a Google search to see if such a word exists, and the first thing that came up was Petroleum Equipment Industries Company from Iran. There is double irony there.
The spot from which I took the picture was also in the news recently. At that spot boxes of illegally dumped household goods is still spilling into the streets- books, videotapes, and some real interesting papers- Madoff statements. For more on that: Paper Chase (The New Yorker)

Monday Morning Links

Who Will Take The Place Of Circuit City In Union Square? (Villager)
Lamp Designer Sees The Light In Long Island City (AMNY/Urbanite)
Tribeca Penthouse Sets Downtown Record (NY Times)
Waldorf Astoria Gets Makeover (Crain's)
Milwaukee Archbishop Chosen To Succeed Egan (NY Times)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

LIC Construction Update: Zipper Gets Action, Prism Topped, And More

(L)The "Zipper Building", (R) "The Prism"

(L) Solarium, (R) 10-17 Jackson

LIC Construction update:
Zipper Building- Between 5SL and future Solarium, the long dormant former warehouse/zipper factory is finally seeing some action. Scaffolding has been erected and debris was being removed.
Solarium- On 48th Ave between 5th Street and Vernon Blvd. This project keeps moving along. Sales and marketing has been delayed for as long as possible (to wait out the market), and rumor has it (unconfirmed) that the pool has been nixed. (EDITORS NOTE: Hearing from Rick Rosa representing The Solarium, the developers have been tweaking the offering plan and not delaying the project. They are anxious to get started marketing as soon as the plan is ok'd by the AG )
Prism- Topped, also no sign of sales and marketing. The developer is also probably waiting (hoping, praying) for a better climate.
10-17 Jackson- Starting to tower up. Love those high ceilings!
I'll try to get the scoop on "the zipper", if anyone has any info, feel free to share!

Friday Morning Links

Photo: From MTA via Observer
Bloomberg Joins The Sandhogs Drilling The New 7 Line Extension (Observer)
Photo Tour Of The New Alice Tully Hall Exterior (Curbed)
Billionaire Johnson Buys Another Sherry Netherland Coop (Observer)
Hamptons Rentals A 30% Off Sale (Newsday)
DOT Paves Part Of Willets Point (Queens Crap)
Foreclosure Crisis Largely Misses LIC (LIQCity)
R. Allen Stanford Found In Virginia, Surrenders Passport, Walks (LA Times)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apartment Flash: 2 Bed/ 2 Bath, Murray Hill, Doorman $4095 No Fee + 1 Month Free

Ok, maybe I am in a bit of denial, but some of these deals are dramatic compared to just a year ago. This is an apartment that has been gut renovated with high end finishes. A 2 bedroom (both bedrooms are big), 2 bath, plus dining area, in a nice Murray Hill doorman building. A year ago you would be looking at high $400's and a fee- this year $4095, no fee, plus 1 month free. Any they say rents are only down 5-7%? I don't think so! Call 646-237-4170 if you'd like to see it in the flesh.

Seeing Green In Murray Hill: 303 East 33rd Getting Glassed, Bricked.

Took these shots today. The building, a Toll Brothers/Kibel effort at 303 East 33rd Street, is billed as Murray Hill's first "Green" residential condo. The building has been topped and is now getting bricked and glassed. From the looks of the renderings the building will also have a "living wall" next to the lobby. With the grand opening just behind them, sources report that the number of contracts out is in the double digits. While prices average just over $1100 per square foot there is the promise of a 421-a tax benefit and "grand opening incentives." Oh, and this building clearly wins the most signage competition!

February 19th, Has A Milestone In The Housing Market Been Reached?

It is a bright, sunny spring-like day in New York City. The weather, itself, seems to contradict the gloomy mood that dominates the day to day thinking that has pervaded our psyche as both a city and a nation. It is on such a day that I challenge everyone to look on the bright side. In evaluating the local real estate market several things stand out as potential positives.

Uncertainty may have peaked. Yes, GM could file bankruptcy tomorrow, and a bank or two could be nationalized, but we have overcome some major hurdles. The real estate market has a tendency to slow before every presidential election, as people are reluctant to put their chips on the table not knowing which direction the country is moving. Given the financial upheaval, the election effect has been prolonged. Even though the presidential election was decided months ago, the uncertainty of how the new administration would handle the banks, the stimulus program, and a housing plan were great unknowns. Whether the stimulus package would even make it was a mystery a week ago. Now, whether you like the plans or not, the details are far more clear, lifting one major uncertainty from the market.

Sentiment is horrible. If the daily drumbeat of a negative media is not enough to get you depressed, the numbers- from unemployment, to housing starts, housing prices, housing permits, GDP, will probably do the trick. The S+P 500 is at an 11 year low. If history is any indicator, though, you would have made your best investment when everything looks horrible and your best divestment when everyone believes that prices cannot go down. Sure, it's the 'darkest before the dawn' theory, but nobody could argue that it sure looks plenty dark out there.

Rates are dirt cheap. While most down cycles in real estate are accompanied by higher rates, the opposite rings true today. There is some volatility in mortgage rates, but on a good day you can capture a rates that your grandparents would have been happy with.

Various other arguments can be made. We didn't see the exponential price growth that markets like Miami and Vegas saw, so there could be less downside volatility as well. While inventory has been rising, new construction is at a standstill, so future new construction supply coming on line will be limited. And, of course, the argument that this is New York, the greatest city in the world!

So yes, there are plenty of challenges ahead, but on a gorgeous morning with a hint of a season's turn, we should consider the positives and wonder when others will as well.

Thursday Morning Links

Obama's $275 Billion Housing Plan (NY Times)
UBS Pays U.S. $780 Million Fine, To Reveal Holders Of Secret Swiss Bank Accounts (NY Times)
Shea Stadium, R.I.P. (Gothamist)
A Walk Through The New Alice Tully Hall (Video-WNYC via TRD)
Housing Starts Halved Vs. Last Year (CNN/Money)
Development Du Jour: 82 University (Curbed)
Even Magic Can't Save It: Greenpoint's Viridian Developer Goes Bankrupt (Reuters)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Plot Thickens! R. Allen Stanford Has Gone Missing!

Bernie, eat your heart out! Apparently, if reports are correct, alleged multi-Billion Dollar scammer, R. Allen Stanford, charged by the SEC yesterday, cannot be located.
According to MSNBC via Huffington Post, Stanford tried to hire a private jet to flee the country and sources from ABC via Huffington say that Stanford's alleged fraud may approach or eclipse Madoff's $50 Billion total.
Manhunt: Accused Financier Scammer Stanford Missing (ABC News)
Is Billionaire Stanford On The Run, Stanford's Whereabouts Unknown (Attorney At Law)
R. Allen Stanford Missing, Federal Authorities Do Not Know His Whereabouts (Huffington Post)

Apartment Flash: Low 70's/ West Of Third, Prewar 2-3 Bedroom, $4000

The value pricing continues! This prewar apartment is located on a gorgeous low 70's block, west of Third Avenue. The apartment has 2 bedrooms, living room, formal dining room, and 2 full baths. The formal dining room is large enough to use as a living room, so if you need a 3rd bedroom, the separate living room could be used for that purpose. For more info, call A. Fine Company at 646-237-4170.

A Little Housekeeping

EMail, RSS: It's that time again. Time to remind all A. Fine Blog viewers that if they would like to receive the blog by email or by RSS feed, just scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll be able to sign up in an instant.
Advertising: A. Fine Blog will be rolling out advertisers in the near term. We are a fast growing blog with an affluent and very targeted readership. While other blogs that concentrate on the NY Real Estate are seeing viewership suffer, we are surging. If you are interested in advertising on A. Fine Blog, just shoot an email to to get the ball rolling.
Format: You have probably noticed that we have widened our format. The feedback has been positive and I hope everyone likes the new look.
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Wednesday Morning Links

Obama To Unveil Mortgage Plan To Bring Down Payments, Not Principal (Bloomberg)
Update On City's 20 Most Expensive Apartments (Cityfile via TRD)
Riverton Houses Auction Cancelled (The Real Deal)
510 Madison Survives Fire, But Only Tenant May Bolt (Crain's)
Manhattan's Office Market Takes It On The Chin (NY Times)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

666 Proves To Be Bad Luck For Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers, as planned (since last April) has vacated it's flagship store at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Although plenty in Midtown appreciated it's convenience, the idea of having a flagship store just 7 blocks form it's original flagship on Madison Avenue has proven to backfire. Brooks Brothers was originally scheduled to stay in the space until at least 2014, but was bought out by Kushner Companies to entice Carlyle Group into a stake in the building. Brooks Brothers was reported to have a below market rent. Half of the Brooks Brothers space is spoken for, with Abercrombie Kids set to move in by 2010. The lease signed back in July was at an incredible $2500 per square foot,"a record by a country mile" (according to Jeff Roseman of Newmark Knight Frank Retail, quoted in The Observer). So far the deal is half genius, now they just have to rent that other half.
This from a tipster this weekend. Times are tough, so even Botox treatments are on sale. I snapped this pic today, although I am sure it was funnier when it was the "Valentine's Day Botox Sale" a few days ago. If you need your bargain botox, you can find it at SmoothMed on 59th Street between Lex and Park.

Silverstein's Silver Towers Get, Well, Silvery

2009 is the year that these twin 60 story towers housing 1,359 rental units will start move-ins. It's only February, so it looks like Larry Silverstein's target date, or at least target year, has a pretty good chance of being met. It is an 80/20 project which means that 20% will be below market rents for moderate and low income tenants. "Silver Towers" is located at 600 West 42nd Street (almost a Law& Order address). The amenities should be over the top with Olympic sized swimming pool, library, lounge, 25,000 square foot park and more.

Bernie Has Company, SEC Charges Stanford With "Massive, Ongoing Fraud"

$8 Billion is at stake as the SEC has filed a complaint against Stanford International Bank and related companies, and federal marshals have raided the Antigua-based Houston offices of R. Allen Stanford, a eccentric Billionaire. The safety of the other $42 Billion or so in assets is unknown at this time. For full details:
Text Of SEC Statement On R. Allen Stanford Charges (WSJ)
Allen Stanford Charged With "Massive, Ongoing Fraud" (Bloomberg)

Tuesday Morning Links

Rector Square Owners May Lose Heat In Latest Foreclosure Twist (NY Post)
Trump's Casino Company Files Chapter 11 (NY Times)
Investors Look To Obama Mortgage Plan (Forbes)
Calvin Klein To Slay Hideous "Dragon's Head Estate" In Southampton (Newsday via Curbed)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Could R. Allen Stanford Be Bernie Madoff, Part 2?

Suspicions are swirling, though none founded yet, that R. Allen Stanford and his offshore Antigua based Stanford International Bank could be the next Bernie Madoff. The bank has been consistently offering well to do investors guaranteed returns on certificates of deposit that are double the U.S. average. Unlike a traditional bank which would derive returns from a performing loan portfolio and other bank operations, Stanford's interest has been paid for by activities involving stock, bond, and hedge fund investments. Even last year, the worst in the markets since the Great Depression, investors were rewarded with a handsome if somewhat unbelievable 6% return, according to reports. Stanford's CDs have 30,000 holders with assets of $8.5 Billion. The entire bank claims assets of $51 Billion, or $1 Billion more than Madoff allegedly had at his disposal. Furthering suspicion is that Stanford is listed as a holder of a handful of companies that trade on the "pink sheets", a thinly traded, less regulated market that is ripe for shadiness. The firm is now being investigated by the SEC, FINRA, and the FBI. While there is no proof of wrongdoing, and most of the information available is from 3rd party sources that cannot necessarily be confirmed (like some contained in this piece), it sure sounds familiar. This is a story to watch.
Stanford International Curtailed Funding Amid Probe (WSJ)
The Next Bernie Madoff: R. Allen Stanford Under Investigation By SEC, FBI, FINRA (Huffington Post)
Antigua Regulator To Quiz Stanford (Reuters)
Stanford, Flamboyant Texan, Faces Media Glare (Washington Post)

Barbie Hits The Big 5-0! Bloomies, Fashion World Celebrate!

Her birthday isn't officially until March 9th, but that doesn't stop her from taking Manhattan weeks in advance. Last night she was honored with her very own fashion show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week with Barbie-inspired outfits which now adorn life-sized Barbie mannequins on the 2nd floor of Bloomingdale's. Bloomie's was chosen as the retail partner to help celebrate the big 5-0 and is going all out with a 10 window display on Third Avenue, a 2nd floor Barbie shop and the "biggest ever public display of historic Barbie Dolls." Barbie seems perfectly comfortable in the confines of Bloomie's and I have to say she looks fantastic for 50!
Is it just me or did she have a little work done?

11 Times Square Getting All Sorts Of Glassy

Top: from NW, Bottom Left fr West, Bottom Middle fr SW, Bottom Right Rendering Courtesy SJP Properties

These shots are from an A. Fine agent/tipster, Neil Mori, who recently moved to the area. According to the 11 Times Square website this Green office building by SJP Properties is ahead of schedule. It was topped off back in November. In addition to office space, there is some very Times Square appropriate retail. For thse not familiar with the area this is on the southeast corner of 42nd and Eight Avenue long a parking lot.

President's Day Links

Sting Looks To Unload Duplex At The Brentmore (NY Times)
Aby Rosen Suffers Investment Loses In Stamford (NY Post)
Paul Simon Brings McCartney And Bon Jovi To Beacon's Reopening (Bloomberg)
Summers Says Obama's Mortgage Plan Will Focus On Lowering Payments (Bloomberg)
New York's Multi, Multi-Million Dollar Property Steals (Forbes)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Apartment Flash: Unusual And Huge In Murray Hill, $4500

Dining room, bedroom, 1st living room, 2nd living room

7 rooms? 6 rooms? 7 1/2? I'm still not quite sure. That was my impression both before and after seeing this apartment in Murray Hill, one of the strangest, and best values I have seen in a while. Essentially it's two junior four apartments combined, and the total square footage is somewhere between 1600 and 1700. It is being renovated and has very good bones- hardwood and hardwood herringbone floors, moldings etc.. It is on the first floor, but faces South (with 3-4 story brownstones across the street). It has 1 bedroom, 2 living rooms, a laundry room (with wet bar?), dining room, eat-in kitchen, windowed office or 2nd, um 3rd bedroom?? Like I said, it is unusual, but a huge space especially for someone a tad more creative than I. 24 hour doorman, west of 3rd in Murray Hill. Curious? Call 646-237-4170 to see it in person.

Weekend Links

Presidents Day Weekend, the traditional nadir of real estate in New York. Not only is it February, but it is a holiday weekend in February. This year, of course, with all that is going on, perhaps it is more pronounced. On an optimistic note, at least on a seasonal basis, it doesn't get any slower. With low rates, a stimulus plan, a future housing plan, and an $8000 home buyer's tax credit, we'll see what spring brings.
I was delighted to see the NY Times article on East 82nd Street between Third and Lex. When I moved to New York in 1974 (I was 7), this is the block where I first lived. Pretty cool graphic in the story as well:
Streetscapes: East 82nd Street Between Third And Lex (NY Times)
Despite Slowdown, Plenty Still Aspire To Sell Real Estate (NY Times)
With Big Bank Failures, Expensive Listings Hit The Market (Barbanel/NY Times)
A Look At Fort Greene (Sheftell/NYDN)
The Local Mix: Inside Thompson Hotels (Sheftell/NYDN)
Anglo Irish Files To Foreclose On Rector Square (The Real Deal)
Cooper Union Revealed (Curbed)
Weekly National Luxury Real Estate Wrap Up (Luxist)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rob Wants To Give You A High Five!

Only In New York! I picked this up from, via NY Times' City Room Blog. New Yorkers are good sports!

East 86th Street: A Transformation Continues, But Space Available

(Above L) Future H&M at The Lucida (Above R) Space available at The Brompton

(Above L) Clearing out for Chase, (Above Cent) Circuit City Space (R) Former Party Store

(Above) M. Rohr's - Great Coffee!

The can be little doubt that times are tough in the retail trade, but somehow, East 86th Street seems to continue its transformation. The retail climate on 86th is changing not so much by virtue of store closings, but new space coming on line and possible consolidation. Yes, there have been some closings: the large space that was occupied by Circuit City between Second and Third, and the three shops on the southwest corner of Second Avenue (Cold Stone Creamery, Gothic Cabinet, and Wrap and Roll). Circuit City went bankrupt but had very little frontage. The three stores on Second have been cleared out for what I can now confirm will house a Chase Bank. It is moving from the north side of the Street. I would presume that Chase is moving because its current location is slated to be part of the 86th Street Station for the Second Avenue subway (unconfirmed).

While 86th Street seems to be hanging on pretty well, there is plenty of space coming on line. There is approximately 25,000 square feet of space becoming available inside The Brompton's street level at 86th and Third. There is renovated space on the south side of 86th between Third and Lex which used to house The Party Store and Patterson Silks. Finally, it has been rumored that both Barnes and Noble stores, on 86th (2nd and 3rd) and Lexington (bet. 86th and 87th), are being consolidated into a mammoth B&N at the Lucida. That leaves plenty of space.

Speaking of The Lucida, that is where the good news begins. In addition to the Barnes & Noble, H+M is slated to open this spring, and a Sephora is also rumored to be in the mix in the condo. Also new to the area is Rohr's Coffee, just east of 2nd Ave. Rohr's, which has been around for 130 years or so, relocated from 85th Street after being displaced by The Georgica condominium.

While a glut of space in a recession may not be desirable, it would be fair to say that things are looking up on 86th Street. With three new luxury condos opening soon (Lucida and Brompton in the next couple of months) retailers can retain some optimism. 86th Street has been transforming for years, and while it may take a couple more to complete, the trend leads us to believe that eventually it will be seen as an upscale shopping area. It sure beats the seediness of the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Now we just need a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, and all would be good!