Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

Homes Start to Invade A Gallery Neighborhood

November 21, 2004

The brothers Rick and Robert Rathe have renovated 535 West 24th Street, where they lived for several years, and are aiming it for use by art and fashion showrooms, advertising agencies and other so-called “creative” businesses.

Built in 1906 as the horse and carriage stable of the Fifth Avenue Coach Line (outlines of the manure chutes are still visible on the interior brick walls), the building has had numerous incarnations: it has included theater and television set production, race car storage and photo studios. It was there that Richard Avedon shot his famous photograph of the model Dovima with elephants.

Four of the six stories are available, including the top floor, a 95-by-55-foot expanse with an 18-foot ceiling and sweeping views, priced at $320,000 a year. Rents in the area tend to range from $25 to $65 a square foot, depending on where the space is within a building, with the ground floor considered the most desirable.

For the time being at least, the appeal of West Chelsea to both established art businesses and newcomers shows no signs of abating.
Michelle Stone, managing director of Sinvin Realty, agreed. “There is not a lot of activity on the streets, so if a high volume business wanted to come in, there would be little traffic,” she said. “The galleries close in August and on Sundays or Mondays, and the Pottery Barns and Armani don’t survive on neighborhood traffic.”