Sunday, January 28, 2007


A Relative Bargain in a Corner of the Village - New York Times

There's always a good deal to be found in Manhattan. Are readers familiar with Hudson Square, downtown?

In New York City’s sizzling commercial real estate sector, one of the rare submarkets where the statistics appear relatively weak is Hudson Square. In this wedge of the West Village, the office vacancy rate was 18.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006, compared with a rate of 6.7 percent for Manhattan as a whole, according to figures compiled by Cushman & Wakefield.

And yet real estate professionals say Hudson Square is much healthier than its vacancy rate would suggest. Rents are 25 percent higher than they were a year earlier, but they are still a relative bargain compared with Midtown. This has helped to attract a new class of tenant to the neighborhood.

Hudson Square was given its name in the early ’80s by Trinity Real Estate, a big commercial landlord there, which resurrected the name of a turn-of-the-20th-century park, which was situated where the Holland Tunnel now stands. The area is bounded by Morton Street on the north, Avenue of the Americas on the east, Canal Street on the south and the Hudson River on the west.

It once housed mostly printing businesses in huge buildings with vast floor plates. In the late ’90s, during the dot-com boom and collapse, technology companies arrived and subsequently departed.

“When I first moved in nine years ago, buildings were shuttered and defunct,” said Sefton Stallard, the chef at Blue Ribbon Bakery, a casual bistro on Downing Street. “The area wasn’t kept up.”

Now, Mr. Stallard said, “life seems better.” There are very few buildings that are vacant now, and the neighborhood is alive both day and night.

Many properties are humming with what the author Richard Florida has deemed the “creative class”: graphic artists, photographers and architects. They are drawn by buildings whose high ceilings and large floor plans lured their industrial predecessors. The new tenants include the architect Rafael Viñoly, the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and L’Oréal, the French cosmetics giant.

Brokers say a number of properties have drawn tenants from media sectors. Workman Publishing, for example, has leased 59,000 square feet at 225 Varick Street, and the public radio station WNYC has leased 90,000 square feet at 10 Hudson Square.

The filmmaking Weinstein brothers have leased space in 345 Hudson, where other tenants include the Guggenheim Foundation and CBS Radio, according to Carl Weisbrod, the president of Trinity Real Estate, a division of Trinity Church, which owns 15 buildings in Hudson Square, including 345 Hudson. Trinity began renovating its buildings about 25 years ago and has completed comprehensive renovations on seven of its 15 properties.


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