Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

Furnishings Firms Find Homes as Luxury Chains Leave SoHo

By Catherine Curan | April 27, 2003

Retailers attracted by low rents, receptive consumers; Depot eyes Manhattan. The exodus of luxury european fashion tenants from SoHo means that independent furniture firms have room to move in.Two of these players, Desiron and Atmosphere, recently inked deals for stores on Wooster Street.  The retailers were attracted by low rents, receptive consumers and the neighborhood’s increasing concentration of home furnishings stores.These two newcomers signal a return of the neighborhood’s once-typical tenant base-distinctive independent businesses (“SoHo reinvents itself,” April 17).  They are building on the platform recently established by other home furnishers.  Oakland, Calif.-based Design Within Reach just made a high-pofile debut at 142 Wooster Street, while a mini-Milan of upscale Italian and European home furnishings stores has been developing farther south, on Greene Street.”Flagship loss leaders, because of what’s going on in the economy, are being rethought,” says Frank Carfaro, president of Desiron.  “It’s allowing businesses like ours to come in, and that’s what SoHo is about.”For Desiron, opening on Wooster caps a two-year search in the area for the right space at an affordable rent.  The firm signed a 10-

year lease and basement space at an affordable rent.  The firm signed a 10-year lease and basement space at 151 Wooster St.  The asking rent was $100 per square foot, and the deal was closed at about $70 per square foot.  Desiron was represented by Christopher Owles, managing director  of Sinvin Realty Corp., in the transaction.  Randy Kornblatt of Spaceworks Real Estate represented the landlord, Tom Fuchs of Katovale Realty.The move marks a consolidation for Desiron, which had operated three other Manhattan locations.  Mr. Carfaro decided to close stores at 111 Greene St., 204 Park Ave. and 139 W. 22nd St. to focus on one SoHo store.  He says the downtown businesses were cannibalizing each other, and he preferred to have one location to showcase all the collections.Despite the difficulties since Sept. 11, Mr. Carfaro says he remains committed to downtown, because it still attracts customers willing to spend $2,500 for a mid-century modern-style Desiron sofa.  He says he would like to open an uptown store when the economy improves.  His target area is currently Third Avenue in the low 60’s, currently home to upscale furniture purveyor Ligne Roset.  Low rent inspired Shelley Reich to expand

her company, Atmosphere Home Inc., to New York from one retail location in San Francisco and a factory in Los Angeles.  She signed a 10-year lease for 4,500 square feet of ground-floor space and a 4,000 square foot finished basement at 121 Wooster St.  The rent is about $130 per square foot.Atmosphere makes moderate to high-priced contemporary furniture, with sofas costing $2,200 for lower-grade fabrics, and up to $6,500 for higher quality fabrics or leather.  The store is set to open in June.Robin Abrams, executive vice president, and Roger Eulau, senior director, of The Lansco Corp. represented Atmosphere in the transaction.  Mr. Owles of Sinvin represented landlord Jordan Wooster.Ms. Abrams expects the trend to continue.  “This is the start of an evolution,” She says.  “We will go back to seeing home furnishings, galleries, interesting food retailers and boutiquey types of users, which were traditional SoHo tenants.”