Aby Rosen’s plan for the Chrysler Building is not yet complete, but one thing is clear: the long-standing retail tenants weren’t part of it.
In the arcades of the Chrysler building, which is now largely empty, there used to be a collection of corner shops that met the daily needs of the building’s commuter flow.
A barber shop, a shoe shine store, a dry cleaner, an optician, and a locksmith have all gone away in the past few months, and the days seem to be numbered for a deli that serves inexpensive yet high-quality sandwiches for customers on the go. There were also storage and fitness facilities for the Blank Rome law firm.
Midtown Barbers closed its doors to tenants at the end of January and moved to a store on 52nd Street and Third Avenue under the new name Manhattan Barber Shop. The practice of Dr. Alan Kurfirst, Madison Avenue Eye Care, moved to a room about a block away in the first week of March.
It is unclear whether the shoeshine or the cleaning service have set up a shop elsewhere. Lexler Deli was open last week but didn’t answer the phone on Monday. Alco Lock & Safe has left the room at 405 Lexington Avenue and no longer has a retail location. Rosen RFR Holding did not respond to requests for comments.
RFR bought the lease for the famous skyscraper with partner Sigma Holding GmbH for $ 151 million from Tishman Speyer and a government fund in Abu Dhabi a year ago. The Cooper Union owns the land and RFR and Sigma pay the school an annual base rent of $ 32.5 million, which is expected to be reduced to $ 41 million in 2028.
According to public records, RFR took out a $ 30 million mortgage from Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies last year. A source said RFR informed arcade tenants in June 2019 that their leases would not be extended because the owner wanted to “restore, renovate”.
In April last year, Rosen gave an insight into his plans for the Chrysler Building in interviews with various media. He told Bloomberg that he was planning to bring the Cloud Club back to the venue and expand amenities for the public and tenants on the arcade level, including restaurants, hair salons, and shoe shine shops, but not a hotel.
He also told the New York Post that he was thinking about a food court and new viewing platform, and was talking about restaurants with the Major Food Group and restaurateur Stephen Starr.
The law firm Blank Rome was the first to clear its arcade room in April 2019. In fact, it has cleared its entire area of 130,000 square meters across the entire building, including five office floors.
Martin Luskin, a partner of Blank Rome who was involved in the office lease, said the company has been in the building for about 40 years. Although they had conversations with the previous owners of the Chrysler Building about the renovation, he said the company ultimately chose offices that were “more technologically up to date and more space efficient.”
Blank Rome moved to 1271 Avenue of the Americas in May 2019. According to Luskin, the new office was able to record an increase in the number of employees of around 30 percent, despite having approximately the same space. He attributed this to an intestinal rehabilitation.
Part of Blank Rome’s old footprint in the Chrysler Building – which ranged from the arcade to half of the 14th floor, the entire floors at levels 15, 16 and 22 to 24 – was re-let, an inside source confirmed.
The tenants still in existence include the coworking company Spaces, Amazon Go, the Creative Artists Agency and the law firm Moses & Singer.
Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]
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