Stacey Corso is editor of Real Estate New YorkNEW YORK CITY-Two new mixed-use buildings are about to come on line in the Meatpacking District, a neighborhood that continues to attract high-end fashion retailers, small media and advertising companies, as well as other boutique office tenants. Charles Blaichman is managing principal of Highline Development LLC, a New York City-based investment and development that is spearheading the development. The property consists of 93,157 sf of office and retail space in two freestanding assets: 446 West 14th St. and 450 West 14th St. The development cost is expected to be $30 million.

Highline is asking $1.3 million a year for the four-story, 20,000-sf space at 446 West 14th St. Although the landlord’s agent, Sinvin Realty Corp., would not disclose the interested tenant’s name, Sinvin officials say it is courting one sole user for the entire space.

“We are seeking a retailer that needs showroom space and office space,” Christopher Owles, managing director of Sinvin Realty Corp., says of 446 West 14th. He adds that part of the building’s appeal relates to its location next to designer Diane von Furstenberg’s new space.

“We have been talking to one tenant about taking the whole larger building,” he says. “There could definitely be an off-market transaction related to that combined property.

“This is a four-story building, but since the ceiling heights are low, we are going to be taking out a floor and having a second floor with 17-foot ceilings,” Owles adds. “The building will also have a roof deck. Since it is located just inside a historic district, the facade is being restored, the landlord is putting in all new mechanicals and elevators in an effort to make it a first-class building.”

Highline will be asking an average of $50 per sf for space in the six-story 450 West 14th St. However, the owner is asking $125 for ground-floor retail space, which is located near tenants such as hair salon Bumble & Bumble and fashion designers Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. “Fashion has been a major industry that has been interested in space in this area, not to mention graphic design firms and media companies,” Owles says.

Tenants are increasing drawn to the Meatpacking District because of the opportunity to establish a unique presence, bolster their image and present an air of exclusivity. “People are looking to establish a brand where the trendsetters are. Since there is so little space in this area, if you are able to establish your brand your competitors cannot, all of a sudden you have established a precedent that you are one of the few that can make it,” Owles contends. “Part of the reason they are down here is because they can be a big fish in a little pond,” he continues. “I don’t think anyone who is going to come here [Meatpacking District] should go in with a very short-term plan. People are here to build their brand and watch the neighborhood grow around them.”

Owles adds that for many of the recent lease deals Sinvin has closed on behalf of neighborhood landlords, the terms have ranged from 10 to 15 years. Highline expects 446 West 14th St. to be available in the summer of 2005, while 450 West 14th St. should be ready for occupancy by the fourth quarter of 2005.

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