Village Cigars in Greenwich Village closes amid rent dispute
Village Cigars, the iconic Greenwich Village smoke shop in front of Hess Triangle, New York City’s smallest piece of private land, has closed after over a century in business. The shop, located at 110 Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street within a distinctive red triangle-shaped building, shut its doors amid an alleged rent dispute between owner Andy Singh and landlord Jon Posner, as reported by Curbed. Posner claims that he signed a separation agreement with Singh, which required him to vacate the store by February 7.
While devastating for many long-time customers and neighborhood residents, the closure of Village Cigars does not come as a complete surprise. Posner listed the historic building on the market for $5.5 million in 2021, claiming the pandemic had “detrimentally impacted the property’s retail income.”
Posner now says that the building is off the market, expressing his intentions to preserve its historic character and search for a new tenant interested in preserving the unmistakable red signage that hangs above the Christopher Street subway station entrances.
Singh, who has owned Village Cigars and the adjacent convenience store, Andy’s Deli, for 26 years, told Curbed he never stopped paying rent and blamed the store’s closure over a lease disagreement with Posner.
Due to pandemic-related financial challenges, Singh switched to a month-to-month lease agreement. After the city stopped approving his tobacco license several years ago, he requested a 10-year lease. Singh said the new lease would allow him to change the business into a wine store, but Posner declined.
Village Cigars has sold smokes to New Yorkers since the early 20th century when it opened as Union Cigars. The building’s historic character lies not only in its iconic red design but also because of the Hess Triangle, a famous mosaic set into the concrete in front of the store.
Located on a mere 373-square-foot wedge of sidewalk adjacent to the store, the 300-square-inch mosaic reads “Property of the Hess Estate, Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.” Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, has previously explained the triangle’s history to 6sqft:
“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.”
In 1938, the Hess family sold the triangle to Village Cigars for $1,000, who along with all of the businesses’ subsequent decided to keep the mosaic due to its fascinating history.