With the second phase of the Avalon Chrystie LES/East Village überdevelopment essentially finished, it's time for Phase III. We've heard pieces of the Phase III plan before: it's Avalon's foray on the north side of East 1st Street, with a development featuring seven stories, 100 units—but Avalon's got something special up its sleeve besides more generic residential development. Per today's WWD, the firm hopes to transform a long-neglected alleyway called Extra Place into "a slice of the Left Bank, a pedestrian mall lined with interesting boutiques and cafes."
Um, er—whoa. Extra Place, for those unawares, is the alleywag behind the old CBGB, as seen at top right in an image kindly borrowed from Forgotten-NY. It's been padlocked for years, but now seems set to become the uptown answer to Freemans Alley. This could get interesting.
On Extra Place, a city-owned alley with a New York University building at one end, [retail consultant Williams Jackson] Ewing hopes to attract designers looking to open their first stores. "For wonderful designers with great ideas, this is a quick and easy way to go into business," he said. "It's a turn-key operation. They get a finished store. All the tenant needs to bring are the fixtures, inventory, sign and a can of paint." Ewing envisions the eight shops at Extra Place as selling apparel, accessories, handbags, belts, jeans, shoes and jewelry. "We're working with a French bakery, which will do a cafe with seating that will spill out onto the street."
Rents on Extra Place will be below market value to make the spaces affordable to first-time store owners. "SoHo is so expensive now. That, coupled with the fact that the chains have moved in, has made it really hard for someone starting out," he said.
Even rents on the Bowery have gotten pricy, Ewing said, noting that $100 a square foot and up is not uncommon.
"We've had more prospects for Extra Place than any other phase of this project," Ewing said. "For a designer there's a comfort to knowing who will be around them.