Volume 21, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 24 - 30, 2009
By Patrick Hedlund
P.O. eyes Soho
The United States Postal Service is searching for a new Soho address following the recent the announcement that it would be shuttering the Prince St. branch due to cutbacks stemming from the ailing economy.
A spokesperson for the Postal Service, George Flood, explained that the U.S.P.S. is currently looking at three new spaces within a four-block radius of the current Soho branch, near Greene St., because the asking price for the Prince St. location “was well above fair market value.”
“We’re still exploring all our options,” Flood said, “including looking for alternate sites.” He attributed the planned July 31 closure to a 4.5 percent drop in total volume nationwide, or 9.5 billion pieces of mail, in fiscal year 2008.
The Postal Service’s original plan included the closures of branches in Washington Heights and Columbus Circle, although it was reported last week that the W. 60 St. post office was able to renegotiate its lease to remain in place. The U.S.P.S. also plans to scale back 24-hour service at the main James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Ave. in Chelsea.
Tribeca condo boost
While the average price of homes across the five boroughs fell by nearly a quarter in the first part of 2009, Tribeca remained one of Manhattan’s bright spots by posting substantial gains for condominium sales.
Despite the city’s 23 percent dip in the average sales price of all homes during the first quarter of 2009, the cost of Tribeca condos surged by 57 percent compared to the same time period last year, according to a report by the Real Estate Board of New York.
The average cost of a Tribeca condo stood at $3.578 million in the first quarter, helping prop up a Manhattan market that saw condo sales volume decrease by 63 percent year over year. Across the city, the average sales price of condos fell 10 percent, to $1.156 million.
The report also stated that the average home sales price for all housing types in Manhattan was $1.424 million, down 11 percent compared to last year.
Prime L.E.S. plot
A prime corner property on the Lower East Side with residential development capabilities of nearly 20,000 square feet has hit the market with an asking price of $3.2 million.
The site, at 178 Delancey St. at the corner of Attorney St. near the Williamsburg Bridge entrance, allows for 13,500 square feet of development under the area’s new R8-A zoning designation.
Massey Knakal Realty Services has been retained to sell the 25-by-100-foot site, which currently houses a vacant one-story structure.
With an inclusionary housing bonus, which requires 20 percent of a planned project to be allocated to affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families, the residential floor-to-area ratio would allow for 18,000 buildable square feet. With a community facility, the F.A.R. would allow for 16,250 buildable square feet.
“At $3.2 million, the site is less than $200 per buildable square foot, with inclusionary housing or community facility,” Mike DeCheser, a Massey Knakal broker who is handling the sale, said in a statement.
The site is located just down the block from the School of Visual Arts’ new 20-story dormitory building and the highly visible 17-story residential Blue Building.
In the Works
After recently opening a new Downtown outpost in Tribeca, the AIDS-advocacy and services organization Housing Works will debut its first Soho clothing store on Sat., April 25, with a daylong grand opening event.
The store, located at 130 Crosby St., next door to Housing Works’ decade-old Bookstore Cafe, marks the organization’s ninth Thrift Shop, featuring deeply discounted couture clothing, furniture and artwork. The nearly 1,000-square-foot space previously housed the organization’s Harm Reduction Center before it relocated upstairs, opening up the space for another retail venture.
“The new Soho Housing Works will bring Housing Works Thrift Shops to one of the most famous shopping neighborhoods in the world and help us spread awareness of our mission to fight AIDS to a vastly larger group of people,” Richard Vorisek, president of Housing Works Thrift Shops, said in a statement.
All profits from the Thrift Shops go to the organization’s services for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with H.I.V. and AIDS, including housing, medical care, meals, job training and drug treatment programs. Like Housing Works’ other locations, the Soho store will provide jobs for participants in the Housing Works job training program for people living with H.I.V/AIDS.
The organization’s recent expansions stand in contrast to the ailing economy, a trend-buster the organization attributes to shoppers’ more fiscally conscious approach to spending.
“It’s a sign of the times,” said organization spokesperson Christianna Ablahad. “People are thrifting a lot more.”