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LES Building That Houses Mercury Lounge Hits the Market

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There has been an exodus of live music from Downtown Manhattan recently, and the Lower East Side has been one of the hardest hit 'hoods?losing rock clubs such as Tonic, Luna Lounge and the somewhat short-lived Rothko over the past few years. Is the Mercury Lounge the next to go? The building that houses the famed venue has just hit the market through brokerage Massey Knakal with a price tag of $6.5 million. The five-story walk-up at Houston and Essex Streets?sandwiched between a nightclub and the towering new luxury rental building The Ludlow?has eight apartments (six of them currently rent-stabilized) and a billboard in addition to its commercial tenant. Don't panic: the listing indicates the club isn't going anywhere, and according to broker Philip Huang, the Merc's lease runs until 2018. Phew!

Can a new landlord boot the club come 2018? Well, according to the sales flyer on the listing, the Mercury Lounge has an option to renew for five years at fair market value. The club currently pays $20,000/month in rent, with a 3.5% annual increase. Noisy rock-'n'-rollers aside, the new owner's first mission might be to increase the revenue taken in from that east-facing billboard on the building's facade. According to the paperwork, the current deal (expires 12/31/2010) only nets the landlord $850 per month. This is the world-famous Lower East Side! Surely a message blasted to the taste-making masses is worth more than that measly payday.
· Listing: 217 East Houston Street [Massey Knakal]