A spokesperson for East 32 Retail LLC., the landlord of Ess-A-Bagel, sends along a response to the news that the New York bagel icon is being forced out of its longtime home on First Avenue. While Ess-A-Bagel's owner, David Wilpon, claims it's an intentional move to push out "independent businesses", the landlord responds:
"When we purchased the property, our main priority was to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. Ess-A-Bagel is a tradition in this city and we had no desire to see them leave. In the three years since, we've bent over backwards to come to a mutually fair agreement with Ess-A-Bagel's owners. Our offer would have allowed Ess-A-Bagel to remain - and even gave them the option to expand - in the space they are in currently. Unfortunately, it takes two sides to make a deal, and Ess-A-Bagel's owners repeatedly refused to meet us between their below-market rent and current market value. We regret that Ess-A-Bagel chose to misrepresent our intentions in the press. We take our responsibility as landlords very seriously and worked diligently to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. At a meeting in September, Ess-A-Bagel confirmed they were actively negotiating a lease at a new location. We wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors."
This still makes it sound like the landlord is going to up the rent, and like Ess-A-Bagel can't afford the hike. It is news, however, that the shop is already negotiating a new lease. Earlier today, the word from Wilpon was that he was still unsure where the shop would land. Perhaps that means the deal fell through, or perhaps that means he's keeping things under wraps.