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On the Market: The Hopes & Prayers of East 14th Street

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In the past few months, 14th Street east of Avenue A has become a storefront ghost town. Nearly half of the shops on the south side of the street (the north side is Stuyvesant Town, of course) have moved or gone out of business, and no replacements have taken their spots. It's metal shutter mania, but considering that most of the previous tenants were 99-cent stores and other tchotchke businesses, maybe their time was just up. What's interesting, however, are the rumors we've heard that this forlorn stretch of 14th Street is going to go upscale, with fancier retailers. Laugh if you will, but here comes a major test that could decide if such a turnaround is possible.

The R&S Strauss auto parts store, the big one-story shop that takes up the corner of 14th Street and Avenue C, has hit the market via Massey Knakal. The asking price on the listing (warning: PDF) is $13 million, and the building can be delivered vacant. The listing says zoning allows for a residential or mixed-use project on the site, and it goes on to make a case for residential, citing surging housing prices in the area. But One Ten 3rd or the A Building, this is not. Located on the butt end of 14th Street, this spot is boxed in by housing projects, Stuy Town and a huge Con Ed plant. Will this be the first step toward a glam makeover?
· Listing: 644-652 East 14th Street [Massey Knakal; PDF]