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Wine distributor converts to church; Scientologists buy into Harlem for third Manhattan spot; Blank Rome stays put

Title: Wine distributor converts to church; Scientologists buy into Harlem for third Manhattan spot; Blank Rome stays put
Date: Monday, 14 April 2003
Publisher: Crain's New York Business
Author: Lore Croghan
Main source:

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The church of scientology is heading for Harlem. It is building its third Manhattan church in a handsome brick loft building that it just bought at 220 E. 125th St. for $3.45 million. Its two other churches are located on West 46th Street and East 82nd Street.

"Our choice of Harlem as a place to expand grows out of the desire of our African-American members to have a service base in the neighborhood," says the Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology of New York.

The building can accommodate a church that holds Sunday services and gives pastoral counseling to its parishioners, and an exercise and sauna facility for a program called the Purification Rundown that helps people cleanse their bodies of drugs and other toxins. There's also space for community services programs.

The building, which is located between Second and Third avenues, was sold by the estate of the Danielli family, which operated a wine distribution business there for 80 years.

Before he died, Mario Danielli hired broker Laurena Torres to sell the property. She had already received several offers from would-be buyers when church executives saw her "For Sale" sign on the building and phoned her.

"The Church of Scientology stepped up the most aggressively, and gave us nearly our asking price," says Ms. Torres, the owner of Torresco Realty.

The church paid $115 per square foot for the six-story, 30,000-square-foot building.


Law firm Blank Rome signed a 17-year lease renewal and expansion totaling nearly 100,000 square feet at the Chrysler Building.

The firm considered moving out, and negotiated for space at 340 Madison Ave., which Macklowe Properties is redeveloping.

In the end, the Chrysler Building afforded the greatest flexibility for future expansion. And in the year between the time Blank Rome started its space search and concluded a deal, the landmark at Lexington Avenue and East 42nd Street became more affordable. Asking rents dropped to $52 to $60 per square foot, construction allowances increased and the rent-free period was lengthened.

"What helped us was time," says Martin Luskin, who heads Blank Rome's real estate development practice.

Julien J. Studley Inc. represented the tenant in negotiations with landlord Tishman Speyer Properties.

FURNISHED RENTAL for terminal space

Chelsea's Terminal Warehouse, which is undergoing a renovation to turn its massive 150,000-square-foot ground floor into an attractive retail venue, has secured its first tenant for that space.

The newcomer is moving out of SoHo, as so many retailers are these days (Crain's, April 7). It's a furniture store called Troy, which sells a mix of mid-20th-century Danish pieces and modern designs.

Troy signed a 15-year lease for 17,300 square feet of basement and first- and second-floor space at the Hudson Riverside terminal. The property, which sprawls between West 27th and West 28th streets and 11th and 12th avenues, was formerly called the Atlas Terminal Warehouse. Marketers recently dropped "Atlas" from its name.

Troy's back-office and wholesale operations, currently located on Canal Street, will also move to the new location, says Bruce Sinder, president of Sinvin Realty Corp. He served as the leasing agent for landlord Waterfront NY Realty Inc. in the deal. Insignia Douglas Elliman represented the tenant.

Troy is moving to an unproven retail location. But the asking rent is two-thirds cheaper than at the space it's vacating at 138 Greene St.—specifically, $35 per square foot versus $105 per square foot.

Before signing the lease, Troy did a test-run at the terminal by holding a two-week-long sample sale. It went well, Mr. Sinder says.

The terminal was built in the 1850s and looks like a fortress. A railway tunnel that runs through it formerly housed an infamous nightclub called—what else?—the Tunnel. Last summer, a group of flower wholesalers nearly did a deal to rent 200,000 square feet at the building, but it fell through.