The Real Deal New York

Blue Water Grill renews lease on Union Square West

Seafood restaurant stays put as Union Square Café is replaced by Japanese udon eatery
By Rich Bockmann | July 23, 2015 12:40PM

Danny Meyer may be decamping from the Union Square West space his farm-to-table restaurant has called home since 1985, but well-regarded neighbor Blue Water Grill isn’t going anywhere.

After months of negotiation, Blue Water Grill has renewed its lease at 31 Union Square West at 16th Street. The asking rent was $3 million for the space, which covers 4,700 square feet on the ground floor and another 7,000 square feet on the mezzanine and basement levels. Blue Water Grill has been in Union Square for 19 years.

“Blue Water Grill’s renewal further reinforces the strength of this block and this neighborhood,” said RKF’s Marc Finkel, who along with colleague Beth Rosen represented landlord David Ellis Real Estate in the negotiations.

When the leases for the pair trendy eateries were near expiring last year, many feared they would be priced out of the neighborhood they helped transform. Rents have nearly tripled in the last 10 to 15 years, and tenants like Heartland Brewery and Starbucks are fleeing the three-block stretch of Union Square West.

Hit with the prospect of a massive rent increase, Meyer plans to set up shop a few blocks north to 235 Park Avenue South at 19th Street, in a space currently occupied by City Crab and Seafood. The new location in Gramercy is three times larger than the space Union Square Café will leave behind.

Japanese restaurant Tsurutontan will open in place of Union Square Café at 21 East 16th Street. It will be the high-end noodle restaurant’s first U.S. location. Finkel and Rosen also represented David Ellis in the Tsurutontan deal.