In the past several months, there has been no shortage of speculation and debate about what should become of two empty storefronts on Grand Street, east of Essex. Now there’s at least a partial answer. Tribeca Pediatrics, which has offices across the city, will be moving into the space formerly occupied by the Roots & Vines coffee shop at 403 Grand Street. Leslie Pennypacker, Tribeca Pediatrics’ manager, confirmed yesterday that there’s now a signed lease.
Controversy erupted last spring when the co-op board decided to lease the space to a Dunkin’ Donuts and to sign a long-term agreement with 7-Eleven for a larger space in the same retail strip. Residents launched a petition drive against the chain stores, prompting the board to back away from the deals. They then proceeded to search out other tenants. A leader of the group, Auguste Olson, told us yesterday she’s thrilled that families living in the co-op, as well as in the surrounding neighborhood, will have a great new resource for high quality medical care. “It really shows that when we come together we can really make things happen,” she said.
Efforts to find a tenant for the second space, once occupied by the Grand Spa, have not been as successful. Olson said the potential businesses her group has brought before the board have not met with the co-op’s approval. Seward Park’s board of directors has been trying to balance the desires of residents with the need to find tenants who can pay rent on time.
The co-op finally evicted Grand Spa several weeks ago following a lengthy “collections” process. Olson, who will be joining the co-op’s leasing committee, said the board now must decide whether to revisit the 7-Eleven offer or to pursue other possibilities. Frank Durant, Seward Park’s general manager, confirmed that the Grand Spa space is still available. It’s 2,000 square feet on the ground floor plus another 2,000 square feet or so in the basement.
Pennypacker said Tribeca Pediatrics would open the Lower East Side office in the late fall. In addition to medical services, pregnancy and parenting classes will be offered in the space. The medical practice was started in 1994, and now has locations on the Upper East Side, Chelsea, Jersey City, Brooklyn and, of course, Tribeca. “We are very excited to be part of the neighborhood,” Pennypacker said.
UPDATE 12:49 p.m. A bit more context. A short time ago, Seward Park Board President Wei-Li Tjong told us there’s still an outstanding offer from 7-Eleven to rent the Grand Spa space. He confirmed that the co-op is exploring other offers, “both directly and through commercial brokers.” He added, “The balance to be struck is really between securing a good stream of income in the short-term and risking leaving the space un-rented for some time in order to find a tenant that brings not only rental income, but adds strategic developmental value to the commercial strip.”