The owner of Seward Park Liquors has gone public with his battle to remain in a storefront at 393 Grand St.
A notice appeared yesterday on the front door of the longtime Lower East Side business. It was titled “Urgent Message,” and authored by John DeBlasio, a tenant in the retail strip owned by the Seward Park Cooperative. The co-op is managed by Charles H. Greenthal & Co., which also oversees commercial leasing for Seward Park.
DeBlasio wrote, “After 43 years of service without missing a rent payment, the managing agent Greenthal, has decided to replace my services. The agent will receive a 6% commission for a new tenant.” He went on to say that the board of directors will be deciding between Seward Park Liquors and a new liquor store operator this coming Wednesday evening. DeBlasio urged co-op shareholders to contact members of the board, “by any means necessary to prevent a new tenant from taking over.” He said Greenthal is acting legally but that the move is, “immoral.”
DeBlasio concluded, “I have spent my whole life building a successful business and I do not want to see it pulled out from under me.”
In a statement, Seward Park General Manager Frank Durant said, “We are not looking to replace any commercial tenant. We are looking to negotiate a fair and equitable lease term that benefits the Seward Park Housing Corporation and its shareholders.” He added that it is the responsibility of both management and the board to do that.
According to DeBlasio, he and Durant came to terms on a new lease back in December but then Durant never got back to him to finalize the deal. DeBlasio indicated in an interview on Friday that a “term sheet” given to him would have required Seward Park Liquors to pay approximately $84 per square foot, about the same amount now being paid. There were to be 4% annual increases during the 10 year lease.
Durant, however, said the term sheet simply reflected an amount DeBlasio had been willing to pay and was not a firm agreement from the co-op. Management has contended that the price per square foot being paid by Seward Park Liquors is well below “fair market rent” on the Lower East Side.
Editor’s note: Seward Park Liquors advertises in The Lo-Down from time-to-time. The author of this story is a resident of the Seward Park Co-op. It is The Lo-Down’s policy to disclose whenever there’s a potential conflict of interest in any story.