Volume 22, Number 25 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 30 - November 6, 2009
By Patrick Hedlund
Grimaldi’s still on track
The Financial District outpost of popular Brooklyn-based pizzeria Grimaldi’s should open sometime next year despite speculation that the pie purveyors are nearing eviction.
According to a notice posted on the door of the forthcoming restaurant last week, Grimaldi’s still owes more than $25,000 in back rent and legal fees for the space at the corner of John and Water Sts. across from the South Street Seaport. The note stated that the tenant has until Nov. 5 to make the payment, which also includes late fees and water and sewer charges, or it will have to surrender the property.
However, Grimaldi’s owner Frank Ciolli assured us that things are still moving ahead as planned. “I’ve been a little remiss with the managing agent,” he acknowledged, adding that out-of-town family obligations have recently kept him occupied. “We’ll take care of it.”
The restaurant, which Ciolli a year ago pegged to be open by early 2009, has already undergone extensive work in advance of a full build-out, including ripping out layers of flooring to accommodate an elevator and staircase. “It’s been a nightmare in terms of time loss,” he said, adding that preparation has accounted for “ten times the work” he originally planned for. “It’s a misunderstanding. I just didn’t take care of business.”
Grimaldi’s has recently opened five offshoot locations out West — including restaurants in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix and another planned for Reno — so any question of the operators’ financial stability would appear unfounded.
For now, Ciolli plans to hand over his long-in-the-works city-approved permits to the landlord to commence with reconstruction, and “then we’ll be able to start to build.” The work includes plans for three floors of seating and roof deck.
“I think it’s going to be a very, very wonderful addition to the neighborhood,” Ciolli added. “Nothing worthwhile is easy.”
soho, tribeca high
The city’s most expensive rental properties continue to remain below Houston St., with prices for Soho and Tribeca units rising despite a generally inert market citywide.
According to the Real Estate Group New York’s monthly rental market report, the most expensive rents for doorman and non-doorman studios, one- and two-bedrooms can be found in the two trendy Downtown neighborhoods.
Citywide, Soho took the top spot for the average monthly rent of both doorman one- and two-bedroom apartments, coming in at $4,522 and $7,241, respectively. Tribeca had the priciest monthly doorman and non-doorman studio rents ($2,777 and $3,119, respectively), as well as the most expensive non-doorman one- and two-bedroom rents ($4,592 and $6,465, respectively).
The two neighborhoods also benefited from average monthly rent increases for many of their unit types, with Tribeca seeing an 8.69 percent ($367) jump in the price of non-doorman one-bedrooms, an 8.04 percent ($232) uptick in the price of non-doorman studios, and an 8.5 percent ($297) spike in the price of doorman one-bedrooms over last month. Soho experienced a whopping 12.87 percent ($525) jump in the price of non-doorman two bedrooms since September.
In the East Village and Lower East Side, average monthly rents for all doorman and non-doorman units combined dropped an average of about 3 percent over last month. Rents stayed relatively unchanged in Greenwich Village, dipping by 0.38 percent for all unit types since September. The Financial District also remained steady, increasing by 0.45 percent for all unit types.
So it goes at Le Souk
Embattled East Village nightclub Le Souk had its liquor license pulled last week, just months after reopening amid a drawn-out battle with the State Liquor Authority and the Avenue B hotspot’s sleepless neighbors.
According to the S.L.A., the State Court of Appeals upheld the authority’s determination that overcrowding occurred at the hookah bar near E. Fourth St., requiring a cancellation of the club’s liquor license.
Le Souk had been cited for multiple violations in a January 2007 enforcement sweep of the North African-themed nightspot, resulting in the March 2008 cancellation. But that decision was overturned after the owners won an appeal this May in State Supreme Court, which found that evidence of overcrowding was based on an inaccurate “guesstimate” and that it was outside the S.L.A.’s purview to make such a determination.
“The Court of Appeals correctly found that the S.L.A. must have the authority to act when bars break local laws,” said Dennis Rosen, the authority’s chairperson. “Bars that allow overcrowding or fail in their basic duty to adequately supervise their premises are often just setting the stage for more serious violations to occur. The Court’s decision [on Oct. 22] was essential for the S.L.A.’s continuing efforts to ensure public safety at licensed establishments.”
Just last week at a meeting of Community Board 3, representatives from the cacophonous club squared off with angry residents claiming that noise, traffic and other negative quality-of-life impacts caused by Le Souk had made life in the area “intolerable.”
Susan Stetzer, Board 3’s district manager, said that despite the recent action, the club was up and running this past weekend.
“People that live in the area were celebrating the news, and by Sunday night they were complaining to the community board,” she said.
The S.L.A. only has the power to confiscate liquor licenses and can’t actually close the location. According to Stetzer, police at the East Village’s Ninth Precinct had not been contacted about the ruling or asked to take any action.
“I must say, I’m a little frustrated,” she added, recalling that after Le Souk’s first cancellation, the club continued to operate for eight months. “It is really difficult to get any information on what the S.L.A. is doing about this.”