Two vacant downtown banks are being eyed by the operator of the State Room Banquet Hall, which is feuding with its landlord up the street at the former DeWitt Clinton Hotel.
The landlord, a company known as See Why Gerard LLC, has offered banquet hall operator Gramro Entertainment Corp. $100,000 to relocate from its space at the corner of Eagle and State streets, according to a letter filed Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albany.
The offer is the Brooklyn landlord’s latest attempt to get Gramro out of the DeWitt, which it wants to restore as an upscale hotel. But Gramro has resisted See Why Gerard’s attempts to relocate its businesses, and it chided the proposed relocation payment as too low.
“It makes no sense to move forward unless there is a high degree of certainty that Gramro will occupy 126 State Street based upon a resolution reached in these proceedings,” Gramro attorney Stephen Waite said in letter filed Friday.
See Why Gerard in November filed for Chapter 11 reorganization so it could break a lease with Gramro, which operates the State Room and Comedy Works at 142 State St.
State Room and Comedy Works owner Tom Nicchi has investigated relocating his businesses to the former HSBC Bank at 126 State St. and the former Home Savings Bank at 11 North Pearl St. In a phone interview Monday, Nicchi said he would move out of the DeWitt if the landlord compensates him adequately.
Gramro estimates it would cost $1.2 million to make the former HSBC Bank a banquet hall. In 2003, Gramro signed a lease with the DeWitt’s former owner for a 6,000-square-foot space. That lease is set to expire at the end of 2008 but could be extended to 2018 with two, five-year renewal options, according to court documents.
See Why Gerard, whose sole investor is Chaim Ausch, last year relocated the residential residents out of the 79-year-old DeWitt. Since 1976, the 400-room hotel had provided low-income housing.
The landlord argues that Gramro’s rent is far below market value and that national hotel chains will not consider redeveloping the property until it is completely vacant.
“We cannot move forward unless See Why Gerard becomes more serious about genuinely attempting to solve a dilemma that See Why Gerard has created,” Waite said in the letter.
Attorneys for See Why Gerard and Gramro did not immediately return calls seeking comment Monday.
Historic banks in the Capital Region are increasingly being eyed for banquet hall and ballroom spaces.
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