Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Retail rents surge

Retail rents have surged to historic highs Downtown, with prices hitting a new peak below 14th St. and significant increases on retail corridors along Broadway in Lower Manhattan.

According to the Real Estate Board of New York’s Fall Retail Report, average Downtown asking rents rose to the $100-per-foot mark for the first time ever in the area, with an 18 percent jump to $109 per square foot for space south of 14th St.

Farther Downtown on Broadway, average asking rents along the retail corridor from Battery Park to Chambers St. climbed 88 percent to $301 per square foot, the report stated. That rise marks one of the highest-percentage increases for retail corridors across Manhattan, second only to the stretch of Broadway in Times Square between 42nd and 47th Sts., which saw a 106 percent jump.

Rents also went up 74 percent in the heart of Soho, to $501 per square foot, on Broadway between Houston and Broome Sts.

REBNY’s report found average retail rents up in all the neighborhoods surveyed, indicating the overall health of the Manhattan market.

7 World tallies

Space in Larry Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center isn’t just for the financial set, as proved by recent reports of advertising firm Arnell Group agreeing to take over the building’s 37th floor.

Arnell inked a lease for 40,000 square feet in the 52-story building, marking the 31st floor in Silverstein’s development to be leased by a new tenant, according to a report in last week’s New York Observer. Arnell, a subsidiary of advertising conglomerate The Omnicom Group, reportedly paid $70 a square foot for the entire floor — that’s about $15 more than the price Mayor Bloomberg and others said Silverstein was crazy to ask for a few years ago.

Prices at Silverstein’s 7 World Trade have been responsible for peak average asking rents in Lower Manhattan, rising as high as $75 per square foot and further strengthening Downtown’s clout in the Manhattan office market. The move also indicates media companies’ continued interest in Downtown, as firms have recently flocked to areas like Hudson Square, Soho and Tribeca.

Trump ‘monster’ message

Preservationists opposed to the 42-story Trump Soho condo-hotel have made clear their feelings on his new Downtown skyscraper, but now even the graffitists are starting to weigh in.

A note etched into the pavement on the corner of Spring and Varick Sts. stating “Trump Is A Monster,” right across from The Donald’s rising development, captures the feelings of many in the community who have protested the building since construction began.

“Vandalism begets vandalism,” said Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, which is currently threatening legal action against the developer. “This is the community’s reaction to the vandalism and smearing of our landscape that Trump did.”

Sweeney said he even thought of posting a sign in the window of his Soho loft to the same effect, and mentioned “Trump Is A Schlump” as a possible slogan. He noted that the Alliance has never taken a position on graffiti, but that the scrawl qualifies as “political free speech.”

“I hope it stays there forever,” Sweeney added.

The end of the L.E.S.

If you plan to shop at the newly expanded Lower East Side American Apparel store at E. Houston and Orchard Sts., then nearby designer Doron Braunshtein, a.k.a. Apollo Braun, doesn’t want your business.

The owner of the eponymous Apollo Braun, the avant-garde clothing store at 193 Orchard St. down the block, Braunshtein recently posted a sign in his boutique’s window stating that American Apparel bags would not tolerated in his shop.

“American Apparel to me defines the end of the creative, unique and legendary Orchard St.,” said the Israeli-born artist and self-proclaimed “new Andy Warhol” in a written statement. “After American Apparel expanded their store, I knew for sure that soon enough more and more wonderful and creative boutiques will disappear, and instead of them we will see Starbucks, Banana Republic and Gap in every corner.”

Braunshtein claimed the rent at his five-year-old store was raised after American Apparel’s expansion on Orchard St., alleging that the trendy chain’s presence caused the hike.

“The way I see things, every time you buy a T-shirt from the American Apparel stores, you are giving a green light to your landlord to raise the rent for your personal apartment or your business, because companies like American Apparel can pay any amount of rent,” he continued. “But we, the small business owners, just cannot.”

Mixed Used questions whether the “unique and legendary Orchard St.” still exists with the abundance of nightlife destinations on the block. But, when Mixed Use spoke to him, Braunshtein quickly noted that these establishments are generally independently owned and operated — unlike American Apparel.

“They have the power to make art. Instead, they sell T-shirts for $38,” he said. “It’s the beginning of the end.”

Bowery burger battle

Lower East Siders won’t be at a loss for quality burgers when two legendary restaurateurs bring their flame-broiled flair to the Bowery next summer.

Historic East Village diner Veselka has confirmed the opening of its third location at 9 E. First St., while celebrated Uptown chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud announced his newest dining venture at 299 Bowery just around the corner. The locations are in AvalonBay’s new Avalon Bowery Place building.

Boulud spokesperson Georgette Farkas said that the unnamed restaurant — once speculated to open as DBGB (for Daniel Boulud Good Burger) — “will be drawing on the Bowery’s history as a restaurant-supply neighborhood” in its design aesthetic. She said the 120-seat eatery will offer “brasserie foods,” including creative burger options, as well as ice creams and plenty of beers on tap, when it opens sometime next summer. Farkas could not comment on rumors that the burgers will hover in the $30 price range, but noted, “the most important thing for Daniel to offer is value.”

Meanwhile, neighborhood standby Veselka just signed a lease to open its own 120-seat restaurant, to be called Veselka Bowery, hopefully by Labor Day 2008, said general manager Jason Birchard. The new location, which will essentially offer the same menu as the East Village restaurant, comes as a result of increased popularity at the Ukranian eatery.

The 5,000-square-foot space will be slightly larger than the original E. Ninth St. and Second Ave. location and offer three times as many outdoor seats, he added.

“That area is lacking something like Veselka down there,” said Birchard, whose father owns the original restaurant and said he’d welcome competition with Boulud.

“We’re going to try to stay true to the neighborhood and not bring Park Avenue to the Bowery,” he said.