Upscale Movie Complex Coming to South Street Seaport

A Lighthouse-esque structure near South Street Seaport Museum, New York City. Photo by Andy C.

A Lighthouse-esque structure near South Street Seaport Museum, New York City. Photo by Andy C.

With plans to open this coming autumn, iPic Entertainment is adding an eight-screen movie theater complex to the newly renovated South Street Seaport. The Seaport is getting its $1.7 billion overhaul care of the Howard Hughes Corporation.

There are also at least three key movie operators who are in active negotiations with Fosun International. Cinemex, an operator based in Mexico City; Landmark Theaters-owned by Mark Cuban; and Cinemark, the third largest US-based movie theater chain, based in Texas.

The theater will take up 50,000-square-feet of space at the base of what was One Chase Manhattan Plaza at 28 Liberty Street. That comes to 25 percent of the entire retail space available on the ground floor of the 60-story building. The retail space, which Fosun is renovating complete with glass-walled storefronts, will go for $100 per square-foot.

Graffiti Lovers Can Relax: 190 Bowery Will Keep Its Street Paint Job

Whatever worry Aby Rosen of RFR Reality had about obtaining permission for the renovation of his landmark structure has not vanished like, or perhaps not like yesterday’s graffiti.

Rosen won approval easily from the Landmarks Preservation Commission

190 Bowery: Graffiti to remain as renovations commence.

190 Bowery: Graffiti to remain as renovations commence.

to bring back 190 Bowery as a modern locale for office space, agreeing to keep the years of accumulated graffiti in its much beloved place on the street level walls.

Completed in 1899, the landmarked structure, located at the corner of Spring Street on Bowery, originally served as the office of Germania Bank. One year ago Rosen purchased the building for $55 million. He would like to turn it into offices with a retail space on the ground floor.

Rosen plans on restoring the windows, stained glass and metal gates, but will not be washing away the many years of street painting exhibited on the street level façade. Apparently the Landmarks Preservation Committee is pleased with that plan, and Rosen won the committee’s approval to begin the renovations.
Michael Goldblum, commissioner of the committee, stated that the restoration is “a real testament to the layering that preservationists seek.”

Photographer Maisel Scores $55 Million on Bowery Property

Photo by Beyond My Ken

The Germania Bank Building, located at 190 Bowery at the corner of Spring Street in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was built in 1898-99 and was designed by Robert Maynicke in the Renaissance Revival style. It is a New York City landmark. Photo by Beyond My Ken

In what some are saying is one of the greatest return on investment for real estate in New York City, photographer Jay Maisel sold his Gilded Age bank building, the Germania Bank, for a whopping $55 million, after paying a mere $102,000 about forty years ago.

The property, located at 190 Bowery, is a graffiti-covered relic which developers have been salivating over for years as the once seedy neighborhood transformed to a trendy, up and coming hot spot in Manhattan. Maisels has been living in the building with his wife and daughter, using the lower floors as his studio and the upper floors for his living space. Last year the photographer cut a deal with developer Aby Rosen, but the record of the sale was filed with the city on Thursday.

Rosen already relisted the property for sale with realtor Cushman & Wakefield before the end of last year.

Artists Priced Out of New York, Heading to LA

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey and Hope

New Yorkers, who have always prided themselves as cultural pioneers, should be concerned that new and upcoming artists have no affordable places to live and work anymore in the Big Apple.

Shepard Fairey, who now lives in Los Angeles, is a popular street artist who has a lot to say on this subject. Fairey is the creator of the ubiquitous Obama 2008 campaign poster “Hope,” among other major works. He was attending a Hennessy V.S luncheon at Soho House New York honoring his design for a label on a limited-edition bottle of their signature Cognac.

Fairey warned that New York stands to lose its place as America’s cultural mecca if it doesn’t act.

“New York was a hub for so long [because] high-low culture, high-low economics co-mingled very fluidly for years.”

“New York is incredibly successful, and one of the things that’s suffering is space for people to be struggling to make something that ­nobody’s seen before, or hear something ­nobody’s seen before, where they have no money and it’s not commercially viable yet, but it’s going to be the next thing. That’s happening in LA,” Fairey commented.

All the great neighborhoods that used to house struggling artists, such as Soho, the Bowery, Greenwich Village and Williamsburg, are now centers for high-rent condos and office buildings which used to house artists’ lofts and studios.

“You can’t be in New York and not have ¬either a trust fund or a good enough job to live,” he added. “Artists are screwed in New York right now.”

Fairey is working on a mural right now at 161 Bowery as part of the Little Italy Street Art Project.

Iconic Bowery Building Up for Sale? Maybe, Maybe Not

109 Bowery: For Sale or Not For Sale, that is the question.

109 Bowery: For Sale or Not For Sale, that is the question.

Built in 1898 as the third branch of Germania Bank, the building found at 109 Bowery has since the neighborhood change from what was known as “Little Germany” to a low-income, depressed neighborhood in Manhattan, and back up to an up and coming gentrified area.

As the neighborhood decayed the building went into disuse, and was finally bought by photographer Jay Maisel, who has been living, working and exhibiting his art for the past fifty years.

According to Crain’s, the building has been listed as for sale on RFR Reality, but with a dearth of details. However, the official website for 190 Bowery clearly states that the building is definitely not for sale. The one page site has a link to a New York Magazine article, the Wikipedia article about the building and this brief message:

PLEASE NOTE: The building is not for sale, and there is no space in the building for rent. Any real estate-related emails will be ignored.

Maisel bought the building for $102,000 five decades ago, which translates into about $750,000 in 2014 dollars. It has about 37,000 square feet of floor space, 72 rooms and has hosted the painter Roy Lichtenstein. Maisel has a gallery in the building and is living space for his wife and daughter since 2008.

The Crain’s report stated that as of 2008 the graffiti covered building was worth about $50 million. We’ll see if a price like that could persuade Maisel to sell.

Bowery’s Salvation Army Retreating to New Headquarters in Brooklyn

the salvation army

Last Bowery outpost of the Salvation Army is no more

A true testament to the times we are living in was the recent closure of the Bowery’s last branch of the helping institution, the Salvation Army. The Army moved in a little over 100 years ago into what was called then “Booth House.” The veteran institution came to the Bowery to help down and out men, a population that has frequented the Bowery for almost as long as the neighborhood existed.

During World War II the country’s economic situation improved and the number of homeless men declined. Services for populations at risk improved. Many of the alcoholics, prostitutes and vagrants who had inhabited the area fled as a result of a concerted effort by the city to remove them.

Through the decades since the war the neighborhood has gone through many changes. The latest upheaval has been the hurried gentrification of the Bowery with an increasing number of renovations, new restaurants and other shops opening up to satisfy a new population of upwardly mobile residents.

As a result institutions like the Salvation Army play a smaller role in the neighborhood’s culture. Perhaps even more of an influence is the real estate boom Manhattan is experiencing now, where even old, dilapidated apartments and buildings are fetching awesome prices.

The building at 223-225 Bowery is one of the tallest along the one-mile stretch of street, its height a symbol of the hope the Salvation offered to the most downtrodden among New Yorkers. Now the building will take on a whole new meaning, as it is turned into a high-end hotel and luxury condominium. The developers paid $30 million for the premises, and will most likely be able to recoup their investment many-fold as apartments in the area are fetching as much as $2,500 per square foot.

The Salvation Army will be setting up their new shop in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. That neighborhood was chosen as it is also has burgeoning ethnic Chinese population similar to that the Bowery.

Salvation Army Checking Out of the Bowery

The Salvation Army Chinatown Shelter (right) and the Bowery Mission.

The Salvation Army Chinatown Shelter (right) and the Bowery Mission.

As gentrification of Manhattan marches on homeless and other at risk groups will find they have fewer options for support as the Bowery location of the Salvation Army turns to a modern, 180-room Ace Hotel.

The Salvation Army sold its 55,000 square-foot Chinatown shelter for $30 million to developers who will save the outer structure and completely gut the 10-story interior. The center, which not only offered shelter but also a soup kitchen and a gathering place and activity center for anyone from “little kids to 80-year-olds” will instead set up shop in Brooklyn. The premises was underused by the Salvation Army, which only used the lower two floors, leaving the upper eight stories empty for the last 13 years.

Before the upper stories were shut down they were used as an SRO, “single room occupancy” hotel. Each floor had 40 separate rooms and one communal bathroom. The new owners, Omnia Group and North Wind Group, will take about 18 months to renovate the site, located at 223-225 Bowery, which is next door to the Bowery Mission. The location is particularly valuable because it is adjacent to a private street which is closed to cars: Freeman Alley.

The sale is the latest in a series of valuable real estate deals for the Salvation Army. In 2010 the Zeckendorf brothers bought 18 Gramercy Park for $60 million; a transaction that made history when the sale of its penthouse apartment went for $42 million in 2012 to the owner of the Houston Rockets, Leslie Alexander. That building has access to the city’s only private park, Gramercy Park, and was built in 1927 and used as a dorm-type residence for young women since 1963. Also in 2010 the Salvation Army sold property at 347 Bowery for $7.6 million. The new owner flipped it last year for $19.2 million. The broker for the newest deal, Alan Miller of Eastern Consolidated commented on the sale of 347 Bowery, saying it is just one more example of the “crazy, rising, real estate market” in New York.

Penley Protests NYU Homeless Policy

John Penley

John Penley

Activist and photographer John Penley organized a protest/awareness-raising demonstration in front of the Bobst Library on the campus of New York University last Friday. Of special concern to him and those in attendance is the plight of the homeless in New York City, a problem which is being exacerbated by the continuing gentrification of neighborhoods all over Manhattan.

Penley is a resident of the nearby East Village and has been vociferous on his stand that private citizens and corporations should take more responsibility for what their property development schemes do to the less fortunate citizens in the areas under development.  In the case of NYU Penley would like to see the university partner with Gregg Singer, the developer and owner of now empty CHARAS/El Bohio community center at 605 East Ninth Street to create a living place for the homeless out of the un-used center.

“It could become some place where students get real life experience working with the inhabitants,” Penley said. “NYU could be a model for what universities around the world can do.”

As a veteran of the Navy, Penley told listeners that about 25 percent of all veterans are homeless today, according to statistics from the Veterans Affairs Bureau.

“The general public should care [about housing] because they might be on the next list of people that get gentrified out of the West and East sides,” Penley said. “I’ve seen hundreds of people that get gentrified out of the neighborhood because they can’t afford to live there.”

Philip Lentz, a spokesman for NYU, responded to Penley’s statements, explaining that the school is already engaged in activities to benefit the less fortunate New Yorkers that live in the area.

“NYU’s students, faculty and staff provide thousands of hours of community service to those in need in New York City, but we leave it to those whose expertise lies in the area of serving the homeless to tend to those urban needs,” Lentz said.

“The NYU Community Fund, which is funded by donations from NYU employees, annually supports numerous organizations that assist the homeless, including, to name a few, the Bowery Residents Committee, the Bowery Mission and University Community Social Services,” he added.

Lentz also said that NYU signed a lease last summer to provide affordable housing in perpetuity at its property located at 505 LaGuardia Place. He also added that the university spends a large amount of its resources to give students and faculty affordable housing, which helps to control housing prices in New York City.

Penley will continue to camp out by the Bobst Library for the rest of the month to increase awareness of the problem among students.

“In the past I have been very derogatory about students in NYU, but in this case I’m reaching out,” Penley said. “I really want to convince the students to become concerned.”

Oldest Bowery Building Demolished, Land Now for Sale

Councilwoman Margaret Chin

After losing a battle for historic building status and a turnaround by a city councilwoman, the oldest building on The Bowery was demolished earlier this year, and the land it was built on is now up for sale.

Originally Councilwoman Margaret Chin had supported landmark status for the Federal-style; three-story building at 135 Bowery, built in 1817, making it the oldest building on the boulevard, and landmark status was granted. Later, however Chin changed her mind when First American International Bank assured her and the City Council that they would create affordable office space in the new seven-floor building, and its landmark status was revoked.

The revocation was exactly one year ago, when the Council voted 49-1 to remove its protection from the wrecking ball. That led the way, fast and furious, to the destruction of the building, upsetting neighbors, local preservationists, and historians.

And now add insult to injury. First American International Bank, which owned the building and property since 2007, is selling out to the tune of $8.5 million. The sale is being handled by Massey Knakal. Here is the ad. In case you were wondering which side of the street 135 Bowery was on, its not what it says below. The now sadly empty lot is on the east side of The Bowery.

135 Bowery is a prime development site located on the west side of Bowery between Grand and Broome Streets. The property was recently demolished and the foundation for the new development has recently been installed. There are DOB approved plans and permits issued for a 20,427SF building (including cellar), consisting of an 8 story commercial loft building with retail on the ground floor.

The Bowery was recently added to the State Register of Historic Places, an important step towards being added to the National Register of Historic Places. Both lists indicate the likelihood of the Bowery’s future landmarking and potentially being designated a historic district, which will have no effect on the current development but will limit the development of the surrounding buildings.

ICAP tax benefits have been applied for and the New York City Department of Finance has verified that the application is approved. The property will receive an annual abatement of approximately $72,000 over a 10-year period starting in mid-2013. The development of this property would be ideal for a commercial user, non-profit institution or investor.


Legend Quitting the Bowery and Heading Uptown to Nolita

Brewster Carriage House

The New York Post is reporting that musician John Legend had recently purchased a one-bedroom condominium in North Little Italy (Nolita) immediately after selling is two-bedroom condo on the Bowery. The new residence is at 374 Broome Street; a 2.5 bathroom, one bedroom, 1,969-square-foot apartment in the Brewster Carriage House. It is reported that Legend was able to chisel off $50,000 from the asking price of $2.55 million. Legends pad on the Bowery reportedly went for $2.795 million, also lower than the asking price of $2.95 million. Although he lost a bedroom in Brewster, he gained up 600-square-feet.

The building on Broome Street used to be the home of the famous carriage manufacturer Brewster & Co. In 2005 developer Ross Morgan purchased the property and divided it into 9 living units with a complete renovation of the interior.