Extell Inches Forward with Hotel at Antiques Garage Site

The developer that in 2006 bought the site of the longstanding flea market known as the Antiques Garage for $42.7 million has filed plans with the city to build a hotel.

On June 16, Extell filed plans with the Department of Buildings for a 233,544-square-foot, 29-story hotel at 112 West 25th Street. The site is home to the Antiques Garage, a flea market founded in 1993 that Lynn Yaeger, then with The Village Voice, memorably described in 2003:

Here is what we love so much about the Garage (112 West 25th Street), where, by the way, you don’t have to pay to get in: Not only is the merchandise wildly eclectic, but because the place is damp and musty, it actually smells like England, the country with the best fleas in the world. On this particular Sunday, the lady who sells early-19th-century diamond jewelry is in her spot at the north end downstairs; if you don’t have $800 to spend today, a few feet from her is a table laden with costume jewelry, all of it $1. And the great thing is: Both these booths are doing a bang-up business.

Extell, headed by Gary Barnett, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But it is quite possible that the developer is merely trying to get its plans approved before the updated and more stringent building code goes into effect on July 1.

“It’s news to me,” said Alan Boss, the owner of Antiques Garage, on Monday afternoon. “They haven’t said anything, and my relationship has been cordial with them.”

Mr. Boss’ situation at 112 West 25th has been the subject of some speculation for a while now. In July of 2007, Extell told him that he should plan to move once his lease expires in November 2008, according to Mr. Boss.

“Then in September I got a call that said that they were going to not be doing any building,” he added. Mr. Boss ended up getting a one-year lease extension, with a 90-day cancellation clause, which means that, should Extell decide to end his lease prematurely, it would give him at least three months lead time.

“I don’t see them or anyone, for that matter, putting a high-rise up, whether it’s for residential and/or hotel,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like anybody with much brains will put any good money after bad, if you will.”

drubinstein@observer.com Extell Inches Forward with Hotel at Antiques Garage Site