Historic Village Cigars building will be sold

February 3, 2021

Not only is the building that houses Village Cigars iconic for its oft-photographed location the corner of 7th Avenue South and Christopher Street, but because on the sidewalk out front is Hess Triangle, once the smallest piece of private land in New York City. Real Estate Weekly spoke with current owner Jonathan Posner, who said, “The pandemic has detrimentally impacted the property’s retail income and the expense of operating the building continues unabated.” Sources tell REW that it will be sold for around $5.5 million.

Photo by Bogframe via Wikimedia Commons

The Hess Triangle is a 300-square-inch mosaic sidewalk marker that reads “Property of the Hess Estate, Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.” As Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation explained:

The triangle results from the demolition of dozens of buildings in the 1910s to make for the construction of Seventh Avenue South (Seventh Avenue previously ended at 11th Street) and the subway line underneath. One of those buildings was an apartment house known as the Voorhis, owned by the heirs of David Hess. Like many owners, they resisted giving up their property but lost their battle to City Hall.

But not entirely. When the property was condemned, a sloppy surveyor missed its easternmost corner. The City tried to get the Hesses to hand it over voluntarily, but they refused, and in 1922 installed the plaque indicating their continued ownership of this tiny piece of land, in spite of the wishes of the city.

The Hess family sold the triangle to Village Cigars in 1938 for $1,000, who, along with all subsequent owners, opted to keep this quirky piece of New York City history. The building and the triangle are currently owned by an LLC operated by Jonathan Posner, who rents the space on a month-to-month lease to Village Cigars, according to Real Estate Weekly.

Posner, who REW reports is a lifelong Village resident himself, said, “I obviously I take great pride in owning such a historic piece of Greenwich Village, but I have other properties in the neighborhood that still have very decent income even now, so really, this building should be in the hands of a user and/or someone who can re-love it and perhaps is enamored with the idea of owning one of the most famous corners in Manhattan.” He added, “We believe the property really requires a fresh new approach.”

It’s unclear at this point if this approach includes keeping Village Cigars as a tenant, but the building itself is within a historic district and therefore any structural changes must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The store’s manager, Nehad Ahmed, told the New York Times in 2019 that he constantly receives questions about the triangle from customers and passersby.

In an email to 6sqft, Village Preservation‘s Andrew Berman said:

This is indeed one of the most iconic corners and spots in the Greenwich Village Historic District, the backdrop to countless movie and television scenes and the destination of scores of locals and tourists every day. We’re extremely grateful that this building and the Hess Triangle are located in the Greenwich Village Historic District, and thus they should remain for generations to continue to appreciate and visit, no matter who the owner is. This tiny piece of New York real estate will always be a symbol of Greenwich Village charm, human scale, non-conformity, and idiosyncrasy.

[Via Real Estate Weekly]


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