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Makeover set on 42nd St.-Steve Cuozzo

The ugly south side of 42nd Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway is about to get a lot prettier.

Equity Office, owner of the former Verizon tower at 1095 Sixth Ave., will soon replace the next-door eyesores on 42nd Street with a public plaza and a new retail building that will stretch all the way to 41st Street -- the first of several prospective improvements by three different landlords that will transform the block.

EO is spending $27 million on its project. Although that's peanuts compared with the $300 million it spent redesigning 1095 Sixth a few years ago, the project will have a huge impact on the way the location is perceived. Cushman & Wakefield's Brad Mendelson, EO's retail-brokerage consultant, said the plaza will fill the empty lot between the office tower, now home to MetLife, and the sleek new structure to be created at 124 W. 42nd St. For the latter, "We're taking two horrible little buildings and reconfiguring them into a three-story building ideal for restaurant or entertainment use." The old structures now house a temporary Pop-Tarts store. The plaza will open in November, Mendelson said.

The new, glass-wrapped retail venue will have 42,000 square feet including 21,000 below grade. The block's north side is now fully taken up by Douglas Durst's 1 Bryant Park and 4 Times Square. But, "The south side has been an eyesore for years despite being heavily trafficked," Mendelson noted. On the south side, 1095 Sixth Ave. and two landmarks, Bush Tower and the former Knickerbocker Hotel at 1466 Broadway, bracket long-derelict properties -- one between 1095 Sixth and Bush, the other between Bush and the Knickerbocker. Mendelson is also the retail leasing broker for 1095 Sixth Ave., where 35,000 square feet of store space are up for grabs. But he said the goal is to find users for the new 124 W. 42nd first. "The biggest demand for this kind of product is for entertainment or restaurant uses," Mendelson said. "This should be a traffic generator that will then attract other retailers" to the 1095 space. Construction will start after Jan. 1 "without waiting for a tenant," he said. Mendelson also represents the owners of the Knickerbocker and the vacant lot and building next door at 136-142 W. 42nd St., where a new project will eventually rise. And he's in negotiations with Bush Tower's owner to handle retail leasing there.


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