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Developer Markets Ninth Avenue Storefront After Booting Tenants

By Mathew Katz | August 21, 2012 10:39am

CHELSEA — A landlord that forced out longtime tenants from a Chelsea block has finally put its large retail space on the rental market.

Stonehenge, which purchased a building that spans nearly the entire block of Ninth Avenue between West 17th and West 18th Streets, began seeking a major tenant for the rapidly gentrifying block.

The firm wants to bring in a single tenant for the roughly 5,300-square-foot space — once home to six small businesses — on a 10-year lease, according to broker documents. The new spot at 112 Ninth Ave. will be gutted and renovated in time for a 2013 opening, renderings claimed.

Though advertisements on scaffolding above the building read, "New Era. New York. Where Chelsea Market Meets The Highline [sic]," some in the community worry that bringing in that new era involves pushing out the old.

The landlord drew ire from the building's existing tenants, who were surprised to receive eviction notices at the start of the year after Stonehenge bought the building from the Fortuna Realty Group for nearly $34 million. The stores included a barbershop, a dry cleaners, a check cashier, a Chinese restaurant and two bodegas.

Locals were also upset that the landlord effectively planned to shut down several businesses that provide essential services to the nearby Fulton Houses.

The existing tenants were originally supposed to be out by mid-summer, but some said on Monday they were currently on a month-to-month agreement, waiting for final word on when they had to leave.

The storefronts are not the only part of the building facing a change. The developer has begun an extensive renovation to 63 residential units in the six-story building. According to Department of Buildings records, Stonehenge is spending about $29,000 to $45,000 fixing up each apartment.

"As part of the business plan, Stonehenge will completely reposition the retail ground floor as well as implement an intensive building-wide capital improvements program which will include apartment renovations, lobby improvements and amenity spaces," Stonehenge wrote in a statement in February.

Stonehenge did not respond to requests for comment this week.