Todd English will open a huge restaurant in downtown New York

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Celebrity chef Todd English will soon bring new life to a busy but long dark FiDi corner, Realty Check has learned.

A huge English-flagged restaurant has signed a 20,000-square-foot split-level lease at 15 Park Row opposite City Hall Park, downtown sources have revealed. The site is at the southern end of the block, which has been vacant since J&R Music World closed in 2013.

The surprise deal leaves a few questions unanswered, including exactly who the actual operators will be, but it is believed to be an English-backed group of investors.

Although it’s been quiet in New York recently, English – which created the Plaza Hotel food hall – has just launched a hotel in Las Vegas and food courts in cities like Stamford, Connecticut, and restaurants in West Palm Beach and Washington, DC.

No further details on the FiDi site could be learned. A web of brokerage web pages has revealed an offer for the 15 Park Row space by a Meridian Retail Leasing team consisting of James Famularo, Ben Biberaj and Elliott Wygoda.

The listing didn’t quote an asking rent, but our neighborhood source on the ground said it was $2.5 million a year.

Meridian President Famularo declined to comment.

The English Bail is the latest breakthrough in the FiDi region’s booming food scene.

Dining room at the Plaza Hotel in New York
Todd English is behind the dining room at the Plaza Hotel (pictured); now he’s going to create a huge restaurant in the former J&R Music World spot in midtown Manhattan.
J&R Music on 15 Park Row
The former J&R Music space at 15 Park Row has been empty for years since the emporium closed amid a shift to online shopping. It has served generations of New Yorkers, but will now house a huge dining space run by Todd English.
Byron Smith

The trend includes the impending launch of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s gigantic restaurant complex in the Seaport District’s Tin building, Daniel Boulud’s takeover of the former Augustine space and the recent opening of Casa Cipriani in the Battery Maritime Building. .

Additionally, Danny Meyer is set to reopen Manhatta on the top floor of 28 Liberty St. soon.

Supertall at full speed on Fifth Ave.

Gary Barnett is moving forward with plans for his supertall office tower at 570 Fifth Ave. His Extell Development Co. is demolishing several old buildings on the site between West 46and and 47and Streets, reports YIMBY New York still on high alert.

As we previously reported, Extell’s proposal is progressing through the city’s ULURP review process as it requires a zoning change to erect a structure up to 1,100 feet tall.

Clear area around Fifth Avenue from 46th Street to 47th Street in New York City.
Gary Barnett’s Extell cleared much of the space he needed around Fifth Avenue, from 46th Street to 47th Street, to construct a very tall building.
Gordon Donovan

To earn the size bonus, Extell would provide transit and pedestrian improvements, including a much-needed upgrade to nearby East 53.rd Subway station on lines E and M. Such swaps are permitted under the recent rezoning of East Midtown, which allowed SL Green to erect One Vanderbilt in exchange for $200 million in improvements in the area of Grand Center.

Barnett also faces the need to build around the 12-story building at 576 Fifth Ave. at 47and Street corner, which was bought out last year by a South Korean clothing industry holding company.

Newly constructed towers shine downtown

The office leasing scene in Lower Manhattan remains “a tale of two cities,” according to CBRE’s downtown specialist Bruce Surry. Newly constructed towers hold their own while older outdated ones struggle to stay afloat.

It’s no secret that the pandemic has disproportionately damaged the downtown office market. The office vacancy rate in February rose to 22.6% from 18.6% in Midtown – despite average asking rents downtown of $59 per square foot compared to nearly $85 per square foot in Midtown, according to CBRE data.

One World Trade Center
One World Trade recently signed leases for 108,000 square feet, helping the newly constructed building stand out among an area that is experiencing challenges when it comes to older structures.
AFP via Getty Images

So much empty space combined with employees still working from home casts a shadow over street level.

The gloom stretches the length of Fulton Street, for example, where store and restaurant closures abound and the homeless camp out on the sidewalks.

There are, however, signs of hope. Ten recently signed leases at One World Trade Center from the Port Authority and the Durst Organization — including new tenants, expansions and renewals — totaled 108,000 square feet. At Silverstein Properties’ Three World Trade Center, fintech company Hudson River Trading recently expanded by 75,000 square feet.

It’s a different story, however, in FiDi’s many older office buildings. said CBRE’s Surry.

Three World Trade Center
At Silverstein Properties’ Three World Trade Center, fintech company Hudson River Trading recently expanded by 75,000 square feet.
Getty Images

“Newer and improved properties have seen an increase in rentals and [prospective tenant] tours,” he said. “The remaining Conde Nast sublease space at One World Trade is very active with four full-floor agreements” currently being negotiated.

But, “former Class B and Class C properties are battling over renewals. The demand is very low,” Surry said.

Additionally, he said, “there has been a huge increase in the supply of direct rental and sub-lease space in the Water Street area”.

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