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C&W tries to sell ailing Luchow's building.

C&W tries to sell ailing Luchow's building

As Cushman and Wakefield seeks potential buyers for the former Luchow's Restaurant building on East 14th Street, they are also struggling to keep squatters, drug dealers and prostitutes out of the crumbling structure.

James Quinn, a representative of Cushman and Wakefield said last week they have been retained by Fidelity Bank of New York to sell the three-story, 15,000-square-foot structure, that was once the home to the famous Luchow Bavarian Restaurant, to the highest bidder. Fidelity Bank of New York became the unwitting owner of the dilapidated 100-year-old building, which has entrances both on East 14th and 13th Street, after it foreclosed on developer Jeffrey Glick for failure to pay an undetermined amount of mortgage money.

The bank foreclosed on the property on June 6. Glick had grand designs for an assemblage that included a 31,000-square-foot parcel of land owned by the city, the Palladium disco and a 5,000-square-foot parking lot next to the club that is still owned by Glick. He planned to build hundreds of middle- and upper-income housing that would also have included retail space.

The site, which was rejected for landmark status in 1984, but is still being sought by some community groups, used to be a favorite eatery and watering hole for notables such as Diamond Jim Brady, Theodore Roosevelt, H.L. Menchken and J.P. Morgan.

While the building itself is a shambles, the city Buildings Department has it on a special watch list because it is still being considered as a future landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Howard Shapiro, attorney representing Glick, said shortly after the bank took over the property, that the city was giving them problems on the site because of this "watch list." He said it prevented them from doing demolition. He said Glick was unable to do what he wanted with the site "so he let it go."

The Glick site borders that of a city-owned lot that Andrew Cuomo, son of Governor Mario Cuomo and executive director of a non-profit housing developer for homeless and low income, Project HELP, is seeking permission from the city to create 100 units of low income housing and retail space.

Some community leaders speculate that the foreclosure could lead to a possible assemblage of the Luchow's site and adjoining sites for a much larger mixed-use development. Those sites may include the 31,000-square-foot site that Cuomo is seeking, the Palladium disco and a 5,000-square-foot parking lot that Glick still owns.

The New York City Buildings Department recently slapped Fidelity with an unsafe building violation because the structure that stretches from East 14th to 13th Street was accessible to trespassers and was a fire hazard. Since then, vagrants have made new entrances into the building, tearing away doors and putting their own locks on the doors, or breaking rusting gates to gain entry.

Merchants have complained of people driving into the parking lot for acts of prostitution and they see people come and go from the building all day long, bringing in beds, furniture and carrying alcohol. Some merchants have even said people go inside to buy drugs to use either in the building or to take with them to neighborhood parks.

Rob Walsh, executive director of the 14th Street-Union Square Local Development Corporation, said the doors and locks are broken and people enter the building all day. He said the building has been empty since the once famous Luchow's Restaurant closed in 1982, despite it being located in a special zoning district that allows for high density development.

"This is a very valuable property because it is in a special zoning district that would allow a developer to build high on 14th Street -- a substantial building," Walsh said.

Quinn said they have not put a price tag on the building, but they already have investors eyeing the property.

"We've been retained to find an investor who is willing to pay the highest price for the property," Quinn said. "There are some interested parties that we are already discussing this with, but we can't reveal who they are yet."

Quinn added that the bank is making every attempt to keep the building sealed and closed to trespassers. He said the rest is up to the police and fire department.

PHOTO : The dilapidated interior of the building that once housed the famous Luchow's restaurant.
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Title Annotation:Cushman & Wakefield
Author:Maisel, Todd
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 14, 1991
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