Chop’t, a chain of salad bars with several Manhattan locations, just leased a 1,909 s/f retail space on the ground floor of a rental building at 18 East 23rd Street, next door to troubled condo project One Madison Park.
Jason Pruger of Newmark Knight Frank, who represented the building’s landlord, a limited liability company, searched long and hard for a tenant that could see past construction-related inconveniences and stalled sales at the 50-story tower.
“Even though it’s a great location, the scaffolding made it difficult to rent,” said Pruger, who secured the deal along with colleague Robert Hantgan.
The storefront was once home to Bonobos, a cafeteria-style vegetarian restaurant specializing in soups and salads.
Indeed, though it’s across from the burger joint Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, and nearly equi-distant from the 6 and R trains, the stretch of 23rd Street near Madison Avenue has yet to become a magnet for upscale retailers.
Unlike like nearby Fifth Avenue, with its flurry of fashion arrivals over the past year, from Kate Spade to Sperry Top-Siders, which Pruger secured a lease for over the summer, 23rd Street is home to a hodgepodge of mid-range to downscale shops: there’s the nail salon Bellagio, Bleu Sur Bleu spa, Natural Deli, and Live Bait, a bar and restaurant.
Hamburger joint McDonald’s also launched a legal battle to get back into space close to One Madison where it had been located before building got underway.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the developers have now filed a lawsuit asking a bankruptcy judge to determine that McDonald’s has no right to continue to take legal action over a series of contracts and real-estate promises that would have allowed the fast food chain to reopen near its old site at 22 East 23rd Street.
As soon as One Madison begins to fill up and sidewalk scaffolding comes down, the retail corridor along 23rd Street may prove to be one of the most desirable spots in the booming Flatiron area.
Currently, some condo units at the tower are being rented out as Related and HFZ Captial, which fought earlier this year for control of the project, sort out lawsuits and bankruptcy. “The only concern is the uncertainty of that project,” Pruger said.