Empty UWS Storefront's Owners (and Their Agenda) Revealed

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[Bloggers] and others have been speculating about the fate of a ground-floor retail space at West 87th Street and Broadway for months. Until September it had been home to Malaysia Grill, Broadway Fruit & Vegetable and Hot & Crusty Bakery. They were paying only $150 a square foot at the time. After they vacated, the building's owners gutted the ground floor and basement and installed signage announcing "100 feet of Broadway frontage/ 6,500 square feet plus big basement."

Upper West Siders expected a Walgreens or yet another bank branch to take over the prime real estate, instead, like so many places where mom-and-pop shops have been booted out, it's remained vacant. Turns out, that is not to be the fate of the retail space, since it's owned by two New York families associated with an iconic Jewish grocery store and NYC landmark.

Becca Tucker reported in last week's West Side Spirit that Murray Klein and the Zabar brothers, Stanley and Saul, bought the building at W. 87th and Broadway 20 years ago. Saul told her that he and Stanely no longer own their share of the building but said it is still in the Zabar family. As Tucker reported, the Zabars own several buildings, "including the two-story building at the northeast corner of West 79th and Broadway that houses Zabar's, the Barnes & Noble building at West 82nd and Broadway and the building at West 87th and Broadway. But Saul Zabar does not relish discussing that facet of the family business."

When Murray Klein died last year, his share of the building in question went to his wife, Edith Klein and son Roger Klein. According to Roger, a gastroenterologist in NJ, it's and investment, and they're not in the market to get top dollar for the space. "We obviously have expenses to pay, and we want to have a profitable business, but we have the community to mind, too," he said. "It's not lost on us that whatever goes into that space is part of the community."

To lure the tenants they want, the owners are asking $225 per square foot (the median price in the area between 72nd & 87th is $327). They're looking for something non-food related and not already in the neighborhood, citing Uniqlo, Paragon, Ricky's or Morris Bros. Broker Christine Emery, senior managing director of LANSCO Corporation, says the landlord will NOT take a bank. "We will not take a bank. Period."

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