Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Downtown up in Q3

With the economic downturn yet to fully reveal the depth of its impacts on the city’s residential real estate market, the average price for apartments throughout various Downtown neighborhoods rose over the past year, according to a quarterly report from Halstead Property.

According to third-quarter findings for the Downtown market — which includes the neighborhoods of Chelsea/Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Greenwich/East Village and the West Village — prices for all apartments (co-op and condo) increased more than 10 percent across the board.

In Chelsea/Flatiron, the median sales price of all apartments in the area was up 13.7 percent over the third quarter of 2007, to $1,307,500 from $1,150,000 last year. In Gramercy Park, the median sale price was up 8.2 percent, to $725,000 from $670,000 a year before. In Greenwich Village and the East Village, the median price was up 28 percent, to $1,095,000 from $855,000 a year ago. In the only area to show a drop, the West Village, the median price was down 9.5 percent, to $680,000 from $751,250 a year earlier.

Overall loft prices Downtown decreased by about 13 percent in Chelsea/Flatiron, the Village and Tribeca compared to last year, while the Noho/Soho loft market jumped by 23 percent during the same time period.

Meat Market moves

The Meatpacking District/south Chelsea border area continues to court high-profile tenants even as the market slows, with the Lifetime Networks relocating its executive offices to a marquee neighborhood office complex in a deal signed recently.

The TV/film company, which already has its broadcast facilities located in the same building at 111 Eighth Ave., will join other brand-name tenants at the address, including Google and Nike.

The network inked a 12-year lease for 71,000 square feet on the 11th floor after negotiating with the space’s prior tenant to move to a location farther Downtown. Lifetime’s current offices are located at Midtown’s Worldwide Plaza. CB Richard Ellis represented Lifetime in the deal with landlord Taconic Investment Partners.

Google, with its New York City headquarters located at 111 Eighth Ave., also recently announced it would be subleasing about 50,000 square feet of its own space, with asking rents in the $80-per-square-foot range.

The building — a full square-block property stretching to Ninth Ave. between 15th and 16th Sts. — encompasses nearly 3 million square feet and has the electrical capacity to support modern technology operations.

Mom-’n’-pop protection

With the ongoing erosion of mom-and-pop businesses citywide, Chelsea’s Community Board 4 will host a Small Business Forum this week to examine the displacement of local shops by chain stores across the community.

The event, led by the board’s nascent Small Business Task Force, will be co-sponsored by Borough President Scott Stringer and will include a panel discussion with City Councilmember David Yassky, head of the Council’s Small Business Committee; Councilmember Gale Brewer; Jonathan Bowles, director of the public policy think tank Center for Urban Future; and Esther Fuchs, Columbia University professor of public affairs and political science.

“Every neighborhood is starting to look like every other neighborhood,” said Tony Juliano, chairperson of the task force and a secretary for the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. “Either we let market forces keep turning the city in the direction it’s going, or we intervene somehow.”

The board began surveying businesses along Eighth Ave. between 14th and 23rd Sts. about the challenges they currently face, with the results to be presented at the forum, which is scheduled for Thurs., Nov. 20., at 6:30 p.m. at the General Theological Seminary at 21st St. between Ninth and 10th Aves.

In related news, the board is also scheduled to hold a public meeting on the city’s proposed Eighth Ave. bike lane, set to run from Bank to 23rd Sts. C.B. 4’s Transportation Committee will host, with a presentation by the Department of Transportation and question/comment periods to follow. That meeting will take place on Wed., Nov. 19, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Fulton Center Auditorium, 119 Ninth Ave.

Mews’ garden grows

While crews were busy installing the annual Christmas spruce in Rockefeller Center last Friday, workers lifted some equally heavy lumber at the Soho Mews on W. Broadway over the weekend, where a crane carried in six enormous new trees to form the luxury development’s block-long garden.

The two-building, Gwathmey Siegel-designed condo project, between Grand and Canal Sts., added five 10-to-12-foot Japanese maple trees, each weighing approximately 1.5 tons, as well as a single 8-to-10-foot Kousa dogwood tree weighing about a half-ton.

The trees will eventually form a canopy over the 6,000-square-foot, private garden located in between the two buildings, which will contain 59 residential units when completed.

While the trees’ limbs appeared sparse for their November delivery, crews immediately began watering them after they were placed in plots of soil in the garden area between W. Broadway and Thompson St.

The garden will also feature a metal-and-glass trellis connecting the two buildings to provide protection from the elements, with vines of clematis, climbing hydrangea and Easter-egg vine growing over it. Additionally, alternating textures of granite will be laid in checkerboard pattern, occasionally interweaving with the garden’s grassy areas.