In This Week’s [em]Observer[/em]…

New retail column tells Le Madeliene’s story of survival.
Toney Edwards, owner of Le Madeliene restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, credits the endurance of both his ficus and his restaurant in large part to the goings-on underground. Enriched by the outhouses of the ancient residents of the adjacent, 19th-century tenement building on the corner, this fertile ground set the foundation for a lush, sky-lit patio where theater-district diners now feast on duck confit to the tune of $3 million in annual revenues. But the restaurant’s subterranean connection to the historic housing next-door doesn’t stop at mere manure–a point Mr. Edwards and his lawyer make abundantly clear in court papers. Go to Counter Espionage by Chris Shott

New numbers column tackles sales myth of Wall Street bonuses.
In 2005, Wall Street investment houses handed out a record $21.5 billion in year-end bonuses, according to the State Comptroller. This year may be even bigger. Real-estate brokers must be popping champagne bottles. A very healthy bonus season means a very healthy Manhattan home-sales season in the spring, right? Not really. Go to The Lab by Tom Acitelli

trumpcondohotel In This Weeks [em]Observer[/em]...
Trump’s planned statement in Soho.

Too tall or too Trump? Activists decide.
With a tall tower tucked among tiny office buildings and warehouses on the West Side in Soho, here comes Donald Trump, pricking the sky. Mr. Trump’s proposed 45-story tower, which would be part hotel, part condo, at 246 Spring Street, next to Vandam and Varick streets, would be by far and away the most conspicuous symbol in the neighborhood. So, for the past five months, as the Department of Buildings comes closer to granting a permit for the building, Mr. Trump and community activists have been wrangling over the building’s development. Go to story by John Koblin

Village brownstone goes for $5.1 million.
People magazine executive editor Jeannie Park has bought a 166-year-old Washington Square Park brownstone for $5.1 million. It was a bargain: The five-story townhouse at 109 Waverly Place was first listed in July 2005 for $200,000 more. The 25-foot-wide Greek Revival townhouse apparently has 14-foot ceilings (which is very high) and nine fireplaces (which is a lot). And in front of the prettily renovated facade are pretty, wild rosebushes, and in the 42-foot backyard are two maple trees, too. Go to Manhattan Transfers by Max Abelson