It isn’t easy keeping up with the overheated Lower East Side real estate market. Just yesterday, the food world went berserk when acclaimed chef Wylie Dufresne announced he had decided to close wd-50. The Clinton Street commercial strip housing the influential restaurant is slated for redevelopment. This afternoon, a curious listing on Massey Knakal’s website was brought to our attention:
Massey Knakal Realty Services has been retained on an exclusive basis to arrange for the sale of 50-62 Clinton Street located on the east side of Clinton Street between Rivington Street and Stanton Street. The site possesses 100’ of Frontage along Clinton Street which will provide excellent visibility for ground floor retail. The property is zoned R7A which allows for residential and/or mixed-use development. It is within close proximity to Essex Crossing, a development that will consist of 1.9 million square feet of residential,commercial, and community space. The site can be delivered vacant and offers an excellent opportunity for a developer to take advantage of a fast growing neighborhood.
News that the owners of the buildings may be trying to unload the properties is at least a little bit surprising since plans were already drafted for a new 7-story residential and commercial complex at 50-62 Clinton St. Drawings from Isaac Stern Architects surfaced in March. Icon Realty Management bought the buildings in 2012 for $5 million and systematically cut deals with all of the tenants to vacate the property. Dufresne was the lone holdout.
Earlier this year, the chef was thinking in terms of staying on Clinton Street until his lease ended in a couple of years. But as he told the New York Times in an online piece published earlier today, staying in place as construction crews worked around him didn’t seem very appealing. Here’s an excerpt:
In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Mr. Dufresne, who turned 44 last week, explained that the pioneering restaurant had succumbed to a classic New York City story: A developer, Icon Realty Management, is planning to put up a new building on the site. “It’s a real estate thing,” the chef said. The developer declined to comment for this article. So far, Mr. Dufresne hasn’t peeked at plans for that building. “I haven’t been particularly eager to look at what my headstone’s going to look like,” he said with a rueful laugh. For a while, the chef and his team thought there might be a way to stay put while the structure came together around them, but that began to feel untenable. “The more I ruminated on that, the more it just didn’t sit well,” he said. “We weren’t going to be able to give the diners the same experience we’d been giving them.” He added that having the restaurant exist in a construction site, with all the attendant dust and noise and inconvenience, seemed wrong for an enterprise where every dish comes across as an edible thought experiment. Mr. Dufresne said he planned to eventually move his vision to a different location in the city, although he had no specific spots in mind. “I have a great love of fine dining and I hope to continue that,” he said. “We don’t quite know yet where we’re going. It’s like they say, ‘You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.’”
We have calls in to Massey Knakal and Icon Realty. We’ll let you know if we hear back.