Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Empty storefront syndrome

Even the most well-trodden of Downtown thoroughfares apparently aren’t immune to the spread of empty storefronts, a problem that has been afflicting once-hardy retail corridors across the city.

On Seventh Ave. near 14th St., drugstore Rite Aid will close for good in the coming weeks after temporarily shuttering following a failed lease negotiation. The chain joins its next-door neighbor, cheap-eats outpost Papaya King, in its planned exodus from the intersection.

Rite Aid, which lasted for 14 years at the high-traffic intersection, will be consolidated with another location on 13th St. and Sixth Ave., a spokesperson for the company said.

Across the avenue, a pair of smaller adjacent properties at 53 and 51 Seventh Ave. are also sitting vacant, making this stretch just south of 14th St. appear cursed despite heavy hitters like McDonald’s, Chase and Duane Reade nearby.

Edward Brock, a broker for the addresses’ leasing agent, First Service Williams, said a “telecommunications company” is nearing a deal for the larger space at 53 Seventh Ave., which formerly housed a cell-phone shop. The smaller space at 51 Seventh Ave., previously home to offices for a community center, is thus far without a prospective tenant, Brock added.

Soho sunshine

A pair of new Soho developments have been gearing up for the warmer weather — and hoping to buck the current down market with luxury offerings and amenities.

Italian investment company the Sorgente Group recently opened its sales office for a boutique project in Soho featuring eight loft spaces in a pair of historic cast-iron buildings at 34 Greene St., near the corner of Grand St.

The Rome-based company, which recently purchased a majority share of the iconic Flatiron Building on W. 23rd St., is asking between $3.5 million and $12.5 million for the full-floor condos, ranging from 2,000 to 4,800 square feet. The units feature a few Italian flourishes for the discerning buyer, from Schiffini-designed kitchens to Calacatta marble countertops and backsplashes.

“With the sales gallery complete, we are excited to start showing 34 Greene St. to buyers,” said Jason Karadus, senior vice president for Prudential Douglas Elliman, which is handling sales, in a statement.

Over on West Broadway, the new Soho Mews condo complex will open its 6,000-square-foot private garden for residents to enjoy the solace that only Japanese maple, climbing hydrangea and Easter egg vine can provide.

Last November, crews planted a half-dozen, 10-foot trees in the garden between Grand and Canal Sts., which will eventually act as a canopy for the 59-unit development.

“It will provide residents with a relaxing sanctuary,” said a Mews spokesperson, “especially during a time when many will not be renting weekend getaways or their usual summer retreats, due to the economic downturn.”

Pity those poor, Hamptons-less urbanites, will you?

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,” said Richard Vorisek, president of Housing Works Thrift Shops, 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.”


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