Monday, May 12, 2014



A tipster writes in about the imminent closing of Plantworks on East 4th Street: "I talked to the owner who said after 40 years they will be losing their lease, and are closing. The rent has gone up from $15k to $34k a month."

Plantworks is being essentially kicked out. The shop will shut down May 31, with the outdoor garden center closing June 31. 

This may have been in the works for awhile, as Grieve reported back in 2012 when a For Lease sign appeared in the window. Plantworks has been in business since 1974.


EV Grieve said...

Ugh. Wondering when this was going to happen... What kind of high rise goes up in the outdoor garden space? Hotel or condo?

Anonymous said...

No highrise going up-- NYU actually owns the outdoor space and leases it to Plantworks. NYU is expanding and taking the outdoor space back.
As far as the indoor space goes, the owner of the space loves having Plantworks there. Unfortunately with rising costs (taxes etc) in NYC, the owner needs to increase the rent in order to cover the costs.

Anonymous said...

There is no June, 31st...

Jeremiah Moss said...

Erg, thanks. End of June then.

Anon, thanks re: NYU. Any idea what they're putting in?

Anonymous said...

Can you pay $15,000 per rent selling plants in NYC? That already seems nuts.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 3:28 P.M.

What you mean to say is that the property owner wants to increase profits, and that his goodwill towards Plantworks is trumped by that desire. 15k a month - 180k a year - almost covers property taxes for the entire building (206k in 2012), which is 8 stories tall. This is the old canard that whenever any sort of tax is imposed or costs increase, it is passed on to the consumer, as if owners have some sort of sacred right to a given profit margin, and the ordinary laws of economic that dictate an optimal equilibrium price at the intersection of the supply and demand curve are magically suspended when taxes increase. I'm not the biggest plantworks fan because it is extremely expensive and every plant I've ever bought there has died shortly thereafter, but the notion that the existing rent fails to cover costs for a single ground floor commercial space is not credible. I spoke with the owner about a year ago when rumors of Plantworks's demise began to surface, and he indicated that as soon as the owner found a new tenant, he would be out on a month's notice. Sounds like a new tenant has been found.

As for the outdoor space, NYU can use the space however it pleases. But as an NYU alumni, it sickens me whenever I hear about the institution's expansion. Expanding marketshare is the prerogative of for-profit corporations, not non-profit educational institutions bound by charter to a core mission. NYU faculty are a good bunch, but the high-level administrators and board of trustees act our of personal aggrandizement rather than institutional interest. That's a whole other issue, of course.

JM said...

20 years ago, I hit a pretty low point, and thought a few plants might help me through somehow...just adding some life to the apartment. The (rather large) plants I bought there are still here, still growing, still thriving, amazing as that may seem.

Things change, but so much has changed so fast. And bullshit on Anon 3:28. Tax increases have only a small part to do with this. Does Plantworks actually use all eight floors of that building? No. What's in the rest? Who pays the rent for those, and how much? This is greed, and no matter what today's Gekko redux dbags say, greed is not good. For some owners, enough is enough. For others, there's no such thing as enough.

Anonymous said...

Anan 3:28-- to your exact point-
Plantworks raises the selling prices of their plants every year so they can survive. Even though their rent apparently remand flat for all those years. Plantworks did not say "oh my rent is flat lets pass on the saving to my customers". “Sacred right to profit margin”?? Or did Plantworks experience other increases across the board or did Plantworks just have the right to make a “profit”? Of course they had they have the right to make a profit.. Why be in business? To break even or lose money??
John M- I live in a neighboring building, with a similar set up as the Plantworks building. I believe It is a coop and the coop owns the rental space that Plantworks is in. It’s not just taxes but other costs to maintain an older building in NYC (local law 11, elevators, water tanks, shit just goes wrong in old buildings). In others words its normal people living in that building trying to make a living themselves, and the income from the rental space helps offset total building costs. It’s not some mega corporation trying to be greedy, its normal people trying to survive. . I agree with your on your two points, too much has changed too fast down here, and greed is bad.. I just don’t think this is a case of greed..