Volume 20, Number 40 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 15 - 21 , 2008

Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Midtown under Downtown
The ongoing street fight between the Downtown and Midtown office markets has tipped in favor of Lower Manhattan with the recent announcement that its vacancy rates have dipped lower than its rival for the first time in over six years.

The Downtown Alliance stated in its year-end report that Lower Manhattan posted an overall availability percentage rate of 7.6 in 2007, compared to 7.7 for Midtown — besting the sub-market for the first time since Sept. of 2001. At the end of the fourth quarter last year, 184 firms had relocated to Downtown since early ’05, totaling more than 4.2 million square feet in leasing activity. Over 412,000 square feet of these relocations occurred in that final quarter, the report added.

Broadway boom
Hunting for a multimillion-dollar penthouse with park views and a Broadway address? Then look no further than the Lower East Side, Mixed Use shoppers, as a penthouse has hit the Downtown market with an asking price of $3.6 million. Of course, those park views are of Seward Park, and the address is East Broadway, but that shouldn’t dissuade prospective tenants of the newly upscale area.

Michael Bolla, of boutique brokerage Luxury Lofts & Homes, advertises the 2,600-square-foot, three-bedroom space in the former Forward building, near the corner of Canal St., as being in the “East Village.” With a price tag like that, Mixed Use thinks it should at least fall somewhere in one of the Villages. But Bolla insists the listing was an error, and that the Lower East Side/Chinatown location actually proves more desirable for well-heeled residents moving into the building.

“I would rather spend $3 million on the Lower East Side than $3 million in the East Village,” Bolla said, adding mostly entertainment-industry buyers are drawn to the quieter, less-congested development near the Manhattan Bridge.

In fact, he has already sold a first-floor, two-bedroom in the building for $2.5 million, which lacks the additional 1,000 square feet of outdoor space of the penthouse unit.

He also added that an over $2 million bid was placed for a first-floor, one-bedroom unit in the building, but that the owner turned it down.
“More people search the Lower East Side than East Village,” Bolla said, when looking at the most desirable neighborhoods in the city to live. Next up, Chinatown?

Inking in Hudson Sq.
Trinity Real Estate’s hold on Hudson Square continues with the recent announcement of two lease expansions totaling more than 25,000 square feet for a pair of creative firms.

Splashlight Photographic and Digital Studios, L.L.C. signed a lease to add 17,000 square feet of space at 1 Hudson Square, bringing the photo/cinematography equipment provider’s total at the location to 60,000 square feet.

The acclaimed design and engineering firm Arup inked a lease to add 10,000 square feet of space at 155 Sixth Ave., raising the anchor tenant’s total to 102,000 square feet at the location, where it has been since 1999. Asking rents at the property were in the low-$40s-per-square-foot range, while rents at 1 Hudson Square were in the low $50s, according to Trinity.

The real estate big then gave thanks to its tenants by giving out 10,000 chocolate bars to its Hudson Square offices before Valentine’s Day, with Trinity president Carl Weisbrod accepting a literal ton of the treats from local chocolatier Jacques Torres to distribute.

Stargazing girls
The Lower Eastside Girls Club has stars in its eyes in the organization’s quest to build out its new facility on Avenue D in the East Village. The club plans to break ground at the site, between E. Seventh and Eighth Sts., by fall and wants to include a planetarium as part of the mixed-use space.

Lyn Pentecost, the group’s co-founder and director, hopes that donations — in this case, from generous astronomers — will add to its goal of raising another $4 million for the new Girls Club space. The organization has already raised $11 million for the project, with about 50 percent coming from the city, but needs more to install a 30-foot, galactic replica dome for stargazing, she said.

The organization also plans open up its newest eatery, La Tiendita, in the Essex Street Market in early April, where it will sell baked goods found at the club’s Sweet Things Bake Shop on Avenue C. The expansion will allow the group to hawk products from its contributing farmers during the winter months, offer employment to more girls and introduce its “Farm Girls” brand products to hungry patrons.

“It’s becoming like the Chelsea Market of the East Village,” Pentecost added. “We’re just so happy we’re going into that market.”

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