Real estate behemoth Extell Development has added another building to an Upper East Side assemblage where they plan to build a 20-story condominium tower with more than 200 apartments.
The mega-developer closed on the $93 million sale of a former Gristedes at 350 East 86th Street between First and Second Avenues early last month. Plans have not yet been officially filed for the 128,250-square-foot site, a 1-story building built in 1960. The departure of this Gristedes comes just after the closure of the beloved nearby location on East End, as the supermarket chain operates at a loss.
Extell has previously bought clusters of buildings and demolished them to build towers, and their plan for this location is no different. Within the past few years, Extell has also purchased two brownstones neighboring their recent acquisition, with five local businesses forced to move in the process.
Directly adjacent to the former Gristedes, at 352 East 86th Street, is a 5-story building that used to house a dollar pizza spot and Gracie’s Corner Diner. Next to that is the 4-story 1647-1649 First Avenue, once home to a 99-cent store, a pickle and olive shop, and Unique Cut Barber Shop.
All of the businesses were forced to leave when their respective buildings were purchased, and while the majority of them permanently shuttered, some were able to relocate.
Unique Cut Barber Shop moved 2 years ago to East 96th Street, and owner Steve Badl felt afflicted by the displacement.
“They pushed us out and didn’t give us any money or anything,” he said. “It’s not fair, we lost customers, we lost money.”
Badl added that they considered hiring a lawyer and going to court at the time, but weren’t confident in a positive outcome because they would have faced such a large company. He also saw the development as part of a wider trend.
“Some people are disappointed because that was a historical building, been there for hundreds of years, and it’s gonna change the whole look,” he said. “Not too many [small businesses] are going to be left in the city, because all these high-rise buildings are trying to push them out and bring in big businesses.”
Extell officials did not respond to inquiries about the planned development. Neither did the brokerage firm involved in the sale.
Steve Nikolakakos owns Gracie’s Corner Diner, which also moved 2 years ago but was lucky enough to grab a location on the next corner of the same block. Although he took a financial hit, the diner’s new location has actually come to be more profitable.
“This is a better location, better business, but I’m in love with the first location,” he said. “It was my baby for 30 years – half of my life.”
Extell could potentially purchase an even larger piece of the block to add to their parcel, although the buildings bordering it include a homeless shelter, a bar and a pharmacy.