THE PLAN

420 west 14th street
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Currently, mullions interrupt an otherwise all-glass front, although Ms. Gedinsky reports that the landlord intends to install a seamless plate of glass for higher visibility. “There are currently mullions that sort of interrupt what would be a seamless glass façade, so the landlord plans to remove that so an incoming retailer will have a little more visibility,” said Ms. Gedinsky. “It will also enable more flexibility for branding on 14th Street, because signage won’t be obstructed.” The 2,800-square-foot basement is currently divided into showroom and storage by the owners of Heller Gallery, and with staircases on both ends of the plan, future tenants will be able to easily partition the lower level however they choose. “Both of these staircases lead to the basement level, but the one thing that’s really nice about this layout is the fact that you have one right as you enter,” said Ms. Gedinsky. “This way, any retailer can take their goods directly down to the basement, and they don’t have to use a dolly and track that dolly through their space.”

For better or worse, ever since the construction of the High Line Park, existing tenants on Manhattan’s far West Side have felt its effects. Some have reaped the benefits of added pedestrian traffic, while others have faced the sting of being squeezed out of the area thanks to escalating rents. At Heller Gallery, a hub for contemporary glass sculpture that’s been housed at the base of 420 West 14th Street since 1973, the latter has become an unfortunate reality. While their lease on the 3,600-square-foot gallery isn’t set to expire until July, owners have expressed interest in leaving sooner, citing the rising cost of operating in the Meatpacking District. As leasing agent at the six-story, E.B.S.-owned building, Winick Realty Group Director Kelly Gedinsky has been touting the asset’s great location and high ceiling in her marketing campaign to would-be retailers. Ms. Gedinsky reviewed the floor plan with The Commercial Observer last week and discussed what, exactly, will draw future tenants to the space once Heller Gallery vacates early next year. 01
Hardwood floors, 18-foot ceilings and a floorplate boasting very few columns are at the heart of Ms. Gedinsky’s pitch for the space now occupied by Heller Gallery that, like other neighboring assets in the Meatpacking District, once housed a meat-packing plant. “It’s built as a gallery right now, which, frankly, means that the space has very little obstructive portions of it,” said Ms. Gedinsky. “With any gallery, all they need is open space to hang and display their art. It’s that same layout that works with almost any retailer, whether it be shoes or apparel.”

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At 6,400 square feet, the bi-level space being offered is smaller than others on West 14th Street coming to market, not least of which is a 20,000-square-foot gas station being converted for retail. Nonetheless, Ms. Gedinsky believes the area can support a variety of retailers, as evidenced by new leases inked by the likes of Patagonia and Lululemon. “With the opening of the High Line we’re seeing a brand new customer visiting the neighborhood. There’s a lot more connectivity between the Chelsea Market and the entrance on 14th Street, just off 10th Avenue.” While a doorway allows easy access between the building’s lobby and Heller Gallery, Ms. Gedinsky suggested the corridor offers hardly any real benefit to a future tenant—except elevator access. “The only reason to use that doorway would be if, for some reason, an incoming retailer had a client who need to access the basement,” said Ms. Gedinsky. “There’s an elevator that goes down there.” Because the Heller Gallery opens a little wider near the rear of the space, visitors have tended to congregate there and discuss the artwork. Ms. Gedinsky believes the same can be expected of customers visiting a future retailer. Another use, however, could be as a space for cash registers. “The one thing that’s actually pretty nice about this space is that you walk in and you have your cash registers,” said Ms. Gedinsky.

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Windows near the rear of the ground-floor space may not boast unbeatable views or a portal for natural light, but they could act as a canvas for a more creative use, such as stained glass. “I mean, it’s not a ton of natural light, but it’s a unique feature, because people can put in milk glass or stained glass, just as an added amenity, or a design element, or just something nice.”

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42 | NOVEMBER 27, 2012  | THE COMMERCIAL OBSERVER

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