Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Cartier chases Tiffany

Could upscale jeweler Cartier be returning its roots on Wall St.? With Tiffany and the spate of other recent luxury retailers opening in the Financial District — or at least plotting their invasion — Cartier will be the next high-end tenant to take space, said powerbroker Faith Hope Consolo of Prudential Douglas Elliman. “They used to be there, and they will be there again,” she said, noting Cartier is looking for space exclusively on Wall or Broad Sts. She added that other luxe retailers like Gucci and Prada have also actively begun their searches, but that “Cartier’s way ahead.” Consolo expects an announcement in about a month, so FiDi shoppers should start saving now.

Smooth demo

Demolition began this week on the 50-year-old building at 99 Church St., where developer Larry Silverstein will begin construction on a luxury hotel-condo this summer, representatives from Silverstein Properties reported last week.

Following the end of asbestos abatement last Friday, Silverstein vice president of operations Bill Dacunto said crews began external deconstruction at the 11-story, non-landmarked property this week as the final phase of the demolition process a block from the World Trade Center site.

“Anyone who lives and works Downtown, you’ve heard the horror stories about the other two nightmare demo jobs that are going on,” said Dara McQuillan, Silverstein’s spokesperson, referring to the haunted former Deutsche Bank building and Fiterman Hall across from the W.T.C. McQuillan assured receptive Community Board 1 members last week that they won’t have to pray about Church.

He did not comment on the size of the new project at the site, which he confirmed would be designed by Bob Stern with construction to begin in June of this year.

Success on the B-list

The increase in price for lesser-quality office space outpaced that of Class A properties last year in Lower Manhattan, following the citywide trend of Class B buildings seeing higher jumps than their more well-heeled ilk.

According to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle, Class B office space Downtown rose 23.3 percent in 2007, rising from $36 per square foot to $44.39. Rents for Class A office space rose last year by only 10.8 percent, jumping from $46.20 to $51.21.

The trend pervaded in every surveyed submarket across Manhattan last year except Midtown South, the report went on.

Lower Manhattan also posted the largest drop in office vacancy rates, falling 22.2 percent last year, mostly because of Class A activity. Overall, the Downtown vacancy rate sat at 7.54 percent at the end of 2007, down from 9.69 in 2006.

Dani done

Hudson Square Italian restaurant Dani has officially closed its doors just two years after opening, leaving local diners with one less option in the fledgling mixed-use neighborhood.

The eatery, which will now act as a special events space for private and corporate functions only, is located at 333 Hudson St. near Charlton St.

“If Dani were two blocks farther east or five blocks farther north it likely would have thrived,” read a post on food blog Eater.com’s comment board, which would have placed it on the fringes of Hudson Square’s still-settling boundaries.

Neighboring restaurateur Phil Mouquinho said he was saddened by the news but saw it coming, because “it’s a simple question of too many restaurants chasing too few people” in the area.

“There’s not enough [customer] traffic to support day-to-day business,” added the 28-year owner of P.J. Charlton Italian Restaurant. Had the space been able to operate a bit longer, it could have benefited from the business of big incoming tenants, he said, such as Viacom and other media firms flocking to the area.

“In three months there’s 3,000 people moving across the street,” Mouquinho noted. “Those are people that have not been here for 50 years.”

L.E.S. Food Fight

The perpetual flurry of development on Lower East Side is threatening the life of another independently owned shop in the neighborhood, with two large-scale buildings rising on Ludlow St. and chain stores closing in.

Isaac Tapiero, owner of the six-year-old EarthMatters Organic Market at 177 Ludlow St., said his business has seen a decrease in business as a result of the rapid pace of construction near his establishment, including a nearby mega-store.

“We’re about to close,” he said. “We have no business because of Whole Foods and the construction.”

Tapiero blamed the construction work involved with the development of a 17-story hotel-condo and another 24-story hotel on Ludlow St. across from his store for his recent woes, as well as the Whole Foods on Houston St. and the Bowery for poaching his customers.

“It’s killed a lot of business around here,” he said of the loss of foot traffic due to construction. “The entire Ludlow St. is pretty much dead, besides whoever sells booze.”

Tapiero added his next step would be to directly petition residents with a letter asking for their support to save his endangered operation. “It’s a survival situation.”

Grinding poetry

Starbucks denizens who prefer to enjoy their $2 coffees with $10-per-day wireless service might want to abandon the chain for the Bowery — where local performance space the Bowery Poetry Club will offer both free of charge.

The announcement over the Mixed Use wire stated the club will be offering complimentary cups of joe and Internet service simply as a way “to celebrate the New Year.”

“The Bowery is going through huge changes with high-rise capitalism towering over every corner,” read the release from the café, located on the Bowery at E. First St. “In this time of transition, the Bowery Poetry Club wants to keep us focused on the essentials: coffee and communication.”

The nonprofit coffee shop also offers free performance art rather than a selection of Starbucks-endorsed music, so patrons can decide if they’d prefer listening to a vaudeville act or James Taylor while swilling and surfing the Web.