UWS Friedland tenants riled over rents

By Amy Tennery | February 12, 2010 07:24PM

An office and retail property owner has been drawing ire from tenants on the Upper West Side for allegedly refusing to budge on rents and, they say, effectively forcing tenants out.

Friedland Properties, which has maintained a famously influential grasp on the Manhattan retail scene while maintaining top-dollar rents, has failed to renegotiate rents with tenants on a handful of blocks along Broadway, at least between 76th and 78th streets, some tenants there say.

Lisette, a shopkeeper who declined to provide her last name, said she had to shut down her salon, Curl Up & Dye, this past Christmas, after Friedland refused to adjust her rent, which she declined to disclose.

“[Friedland] has almost a whole block closed down because [they] won’t negotiate rent,” she said.

Calls made to several Friedland businesses along that block yielded a mix of disconnected numbers and reluctant-to-talk tenants.

Omid Sadri, whose family owns World of Nuts & Ice Cream at 2194 Broadway at 78th Street, where he also works, said that he’s seen several shop owners in the neighborhood leave because “they weren’t able to renegotiate [their rent] and they had no choice but to leave.”

His family had tried to reduce the rent on their retail space, to no avail, he said, and he’s pretty sour about it.

“Everyone’s complaining,” said Sadri, who would not disclose his rent.

Well, not everyone, apparently: earlier this month Filene’s Basement signed a lease for 22,700 square feet of space at 2234 Broadway — a Friedland-owned property. The rent was not relatively available.

Even so, the company has built a reputation as a demanding landlord on both sides of the park.

“A negotiation [with them] is quite one-sided, it really is,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman, in The Real Deal’s November 2009 issue in a story about the firm’s Holdings On Madison Avenue. 

But they haven’t scared off everyone.

Joanne Podell, an executive vice president at Cushman & Wakefield, said that Friedland cultivated a particular environment on Madison Avenue — between 57th and 72nd streets — by “holding the market and demanding high rents, which they were able to get.”

As developers and investors, the family’s portfolio includes roughly 40 Manhattan properties, including retail, office and multi-family apartment buildings, according to research compiled by CoStar Group for The Real Deal in November.

Representatives from Friedland did not respond to requests for comment.