Volume 20, Number 30 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 7 - 13, 2007

"Support businesses and organizations that support Downtown Express"

Mixed Use

Trump to top off
Donald Trump plans to top off his newest Downtown venture by the end of the month, marking the Trump Soho Hotel and Condominium project’s ascension to 42 stories in just over a year. “The constant haggling for repairs, having a hostile relationship with your landlord — as a rent-regulated tenant, this becomes your lifestyle,” she said.

The building currently rises at least 30 floors, and the final floors and steelwork will be finished by the end of December, said a spokesperson for the development. Windows on lower floors have been the latest addition while daily work continues on the property at Spring and Varick Sts., and the building has doubled in size from about 15 stories in mid-September to its current height. (The building is planned as 454 feet tall, which is actually equivalent in height to a 45-story building.)

Sales figures for the condo-hotel will be released shortly, according to Julius Schwarz, executive vice president of the project’s co-developer, Bayrock Group L.L.C. However, Trump indicated in the past that buyers had been lining up for a shot at one of his $3,000-per-square-foot units.

Local preservationists, however, are still gearing up for a courtroom showdown with Trump, as the Soho Alliance announced last weekend new legal efforts aimed at dissuading buyers from purchasing in the project.

The proposed action would require the building’s offering plan for buyers to state there is a legal appeal against the project.

“This would throw a large monkey wrench in Trump’s marketing plan,” said Sean Sweeney, the Alliance’s executive director.

Outside The Box
Brokers have been fielding “a fair amount of calls every day” from possible tenants interested in the soon-to-be vacant office space at 189 Chrystie St., located above headline-grabbing celebrity nightspot The Box.

The available Lower East Side space, with nearly 3,000 square feet, including a second floor and outdoor terrace, has been drawing interest from “a broad array of tenants,” including restaurateurs, advertising companies and gallery owners, said Anastasia Meyding, director of leasing at Walker Malloy and Co.

She said the new tenant would capitalize on the cachet of its downstairs neighbor, which boasts a star-studded roster of patrons and entertainers, even though the restaurant/club has received numerous noise complaints and was raided by police in August.

“A few galleries came to me with interest because of The Box,” Meyding said, “and getting that exposure would be pretty important to them.”

One possible tenant, who Meyding stated owns a tequila brand, even expressed interest in staging a live cooking-themed broadcast from the space.

Rent will run in the $9,000-per-month range, the broker noted. The space became available after former longtime landlord Steven Silverberg decided to move the historic Spanjer Signs operation located there to Long Island City. Meyding believed the calligraphic sign-maker’s signature logo would remain on the building’s facade, no doubt a beacon for the nightlife elite and a selling point for whichever “funky, cool company” decides to take over the space.

CBGB makeover
The space that housed famed rock club CBGB on the Bowery will open a store for men’s fashion designer John Varvatos in spring 2008, the retailer announced.

A press release for the deal stated Varvatos’s “personal passion for rock ’n’ roll” led him to pursue the space at 315 Bowery, in an effort to do what he could “to help keep the spirit of CBGB alive in its original East Village location.”

The 3,300 square feet at the former punk palace will include a permanent stage for in-store performances, a collection designed specifically for the Bowery store and a “special merchandise mix geared to a rock ’n’ roll customer.”

“I think it’s great,” said Alice Cooper — who’s been the face of the Varvatos brand along with fellow rockers Slash and Joe Perry — in a release. “Now all the old CBGB punks will become the best-dressed CBGB punks in the world,” Cooper said. The club officially closed last October.

Mixed Use sees it as a sign of the changing times when a rocker like Iggy Pop, who played CBGB in its heyday, also shilled for a Varvatos ad campaign last year. Only on the Bowery, kids, only on the Bowery.

It pays to patrol
Residents in housing developments have a new incentive to monitor their buildings for illicit activity: The New York City Housing Authority just announced that volunteers in the agency’s Tenant Patrol program would receive $45-per-month stipends for their work in maintaining building safety.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, together with Vito Lopez, the Assembly’s Housing Committee chairperson, and Tino Hernandez, NYCHA’s chairperson, this Tuesday unveiled the pilot program aimed at compensating tenant volunteers for building patrols.

The funds were made available thanks to $1.5 million in state aid for the program, which asks tenants to promote building safety by discouraging vandalism and loitering, and reporting suspicious or criminal behavior to the authorities. A part-time NYCHA Tenant Patrol supervisor will schedule patrol shifts and coordinate the paid volunteers.

Silver and Lopez helped secure funding for the stipends, which will also be offered to tenants who commit to work 10 hours each month in NYCHA community and senior centers.

“We hope that this initiative will encourage greater participation in this vital program, to create a better living environment for residents of the Lower East Side and throughout New York City,” Silver said.

Downtown up
Prices for office space continue to climb in the rejuvenated Downtown market, further reinforcing the worker renaissance in Lower Manhattan.

Rental rates for top Downtown offices have jumped by almost a third over the past year, stated a recent report, outpacing average gains in Midtown over the same time period.

Class A space within Downtown’s top office buildings saw average asking rents increase more than 32 percent since fall 2006, according to real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle’s bi-annual Skyline Review.

However, average rents have risen by only 3.5 percent over the past six months, indicating a slowdown from the previous six-month period dated from fall 2006 through spring 2007.

High-end office rents are now fetching $68.94 per square foot compared to $52.10 a year earlier, the report said. But that figure amounts to just a $2.30 increase over the last six months, indicating the largest climbs came during the winter and spring months of 2006-’07.

Rents for quality Downtown office space also topped out at $75 per square foot over the past year, marking a 36.4 percent jump from the $55-per-square-foot figure from fall 2006. That peak of $75 comes from average asking rents at Larry Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center, according to the report.

Top office space in Midtown saw a 28 percent jump over the last year, amounting to an average price per square foot of $119.41 in fall ’07.

From red to green
The big red umbrellas have disappeared from outside Citigroup’s massive Tribeca office complex, and the Downtown market forecast still appears sunny with SL Green Realty’s recent purchase of the Greenwich St. property.

According to reports, the real estate corporation owned by Stephen Green, brother of former mayoral candidate Mark Green, scooped up a majority stake in the 2.6-million-square-foot complex at 388-390 Greenwich St. for a total $1.575 billion.

The deal adds some clout to the newly confident Lower Manhattan office market and ends speculation over who would take the property after a long-rumored sale.

Terms were reportedly agreed to last week regarding the two-building transaction, with the space selling at about $600 per square foot. Canadian-based real estate investment company SITQ will reportedly take over a minority stake in the buildings.

Citigroup plans to remain a tenant in the complex, comprised of a 40-story tower and adjacent 10-story building, which once featured the now-defunct Travelers Group umbrellas. The former company merged with Citicorp nearly a decade ago to form Citigroup.

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