Soho is losing its last bit of grit: Three buildings are coming down to make way for commercial project

April 11, 2013 09:00AM

Three buildings in Soho – the last reminders of a grittier time for the now-upscale neighborhood – will come down so a new office and retail development can go up, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A BP PLC gas station, a former mechanic shop and the Puck Fair bar, all at the corner of Houston and Lafayette streets,  will be replaced by a seven-story office building with retail shops, according to a plan signed off on Tuesday by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The commission unanimously OK’d the demolitions because the buildings are “atypical of the structures found elsewhere in the district,” a landmarks spokeswoman told the Journal.

The site will be developed by LargaVista, led by Marcello Porcelli, whose family has owned the site since 1976, and whose real estate portfolio is represented by CBRE Group’s Mary Ann Tighe and Tom Duke. The project will be designed by CookFox Architects and will contain 30,000 square feet of retail space and 40,000 square feet of office space.

Soho has become increasingly alluring to commercial developers in recent years. Indeed, the first quarter average asking office rent in Soho and Noho was $79.44 per square foot, a significant leap from $49.78 a year earlier, according to CBRE.

“It’s got the exposure of Times Square and yet it’s in a neighborhood like SoHo that’s so exciting and dynamic,” Porcelli told the Journal.

A decade ago, the area was defined by “no-name stores,” Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, told the Journal, but now, Consolo refers to it as the “denim corridor,” in light of jean retailers such as G-Star Raw and Supreme who have set up shop there. [WSJ]Hiten Samtani