Todd English opens massive eatery in downtown NYC

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

A giant English-banned restaurant has signed a lease for 20,000 square feet on two levels at 15 Park Row across from City Hall Park, downtown sources revealed. The location is at the south end of the block that has been vacant since J&R Music World closed in 2013.

The surprise deal leaves some questions unanswered, including the exact operators, but is believed to be from an English-backed investor group.

Though he’s been quiet in New York lately, English – who created the Plaza Hotel Food Hall – has just opened a hotel in Las Vegas and food courts in cities like Stamford, Connecticut, and restaurants in West Palm Beach and Washington, DC, opened.

Further details about the FiDi site could not be found. Spotted on a canvas of brokerage websites was an offer for 15 Park Row space from a Meridian Retail Leasing team of James Famularo, Ben Biberaj and Elliott Wygoda.

The listing didn’t mention asking rent, but our local neighborhood source said it was $2.5 million per year.

Meridian President Famularo declined to comment.

The English lease is the latest breakthrough in the recovering food scene in the FiDi area.

Dining hall at the Plaza Hotel in NYC
Todd English is behind the food hall at the Plaza Hotel (pictured); Now he’s going to set up a huge venue on the former J&R Music World site in downtown Manhattan.
J&R Music at 15 Park Row
The former J&R Music space at 15 Park Row has been vacant for years since the department store closed as part of its shift to online shopping. It served generations of New Yorkers but will now be home to a massive food section run by Todd English.

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

Additionally, Danny Meyer is expected to soon be moving to Manhattan on the top floor of 28 Liberty St.

Supertall flat out on Fifth Ave.

Gary Barnett is pushing ahead with plans for his supertall office tower at 570 Fifth Ave. His Extell Development Co. is proceeding with the demolition of several old buildings on the site between West 46th and 47th streets, always vigilant YIMBY New York reports.

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

Fifth Avenue area cleared from 46th Street to 47th Street in NYC.
Gary Barnett’s Extell has cleared much of the space it needs around Fifth Avenue, from 46th Street to 47th Street, to build a supertall building.
Gordon Donovan

To earn the size bonus, Extell would provide transit and pedestrian improvements, including a much-needed upgrade to nearby East 53approx E and M lines underground station in the street. Such exchanges were approved as part of the recent East Midtown rezoning, which allowed SL Green to build One Vanderbilt in exchange for $200 million for improvements in the Grand Central area.

Barnett also has to deal with building around the 12-story building at 576 Fifth Avenue at 47th Street Corner, which was bought last year by a South Korean garment industry holding company.

Newly erected towers shine in the city center

According to CBRE downtown specialist Bruce Surry, the lower Manhattan office rental scene remains “a tale of two cities.” Newly built towers hold their own while outdated older ones struggle to stay afloat.

It’s no secret that the pandemic has disproportionately damaged the inner-city office market. Office vacancy rose to 22.6% in February, compared to 18.6% in Midtown — despite an average downtown asking rent of $59 per square foot versus nearly $85 per square foot in Midtown, according to CBRE data.

The One World Trade Center "freedom tower"
One World Trade recently signed leases for 108,000 square feet, helping the newly constructed building stand out in an area that sees some challenges when it comes to older buildings.
AFP via Getty Images

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

For example, darkness stretches the length of Fulton Street, where many shops and restaurants close and homeless people camp out on sidewalks.

However, there are signs of hope. Ten recently signed leases at One World Trade Center from the Port Authority and the Durst Organization — including for new tenants, expansions and renovations — total 108,000 square feet. Fintech Hudson River Trading recently added 75,000 square feet to Silverstein Properties’ Three World Trade Center.

The situation is different with FiDi’s many older office buildings. said CBRE’s Surry.

Three World Trade Centers
Fintech Hudson River Trading recently added 75,000 square feet to Silverstein Properties’ Three World Trade Center.
Getty Images

“The newer and upgraded properties have seen an increase in leasing and [prospective tenant] tours,” he said. “Conde Nast’s remaining sublease space at One World Trade is very active with four full-space deals” currently being negotiated.

But: “Older Class B and Class C properties are fighting for renewals. Demand is very low,” Surry said.

In addition, he said, “There has been a tremendous increase in the supply of direct and sublet space in the Water Street area.” Todd English opens massive eatery in downtown NYC


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