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Cecile Corral

New owners have big plans for 261

L & L Acquisitions, the new owner of 261 Fifth Ave. — widely considered the second main hub for home textiles showrooms here — has plans of turning the 450,000-square-foot, 26-story building into "the premier home fashion building," said David Levinson, partner.

"We bought the building because it is a home textiles building, and we intend to keep it that way," he continued. "We're going to take it to a whole new level in terms of services and treatment of our tenants. Our plan is the raise the bar."

The building made headlines in 2000 when its then-management announced it would raise rents by 10 to 15 percent and pursue dot-com tenants.

Still anchored today by major home textiles tenants like Croscill Home Fashions, Arlee Home Fashions, Elrene Home Fashions and Richloom, Levinson said the strategy is to occupy at least 90 percent of the building with home textiles companies.

"It's possible that we'll try to diversify about 10 percent of the space with related showrooms, like tabletop, gifts and home accessories companies," he said. "We want to support the core tenancy."

While L & L Acquisitions has owned 261 Fifth Ave. for barely a month, the company has already begun cleaning the building and making some repairs in time for the New York Home Textiles Market, which starts March 26.

"They seem to already have invested heavily on cleaning up the building," said Bud Frankel, president, Arlee, which occupies the entire sixth floor and 5,000 square feet of the fourth floor. Arlee has been a tenant of the building for more than 12 years.

"I think they'll make this a prime building," he continued.

Mark Siegel, president and CEO, Elrene Home Fashions, echoed Frankel's sentiments. "I'm very well aware of the aggressive approach the new ownership is taking in filling this building with home textiles companies," said Siegel, whose company occupies the entire 10th floor. "They have been very cooperative in showing us that they are doing everything possible to improve the presentation of the building."

Levinson said despite time constraints, the building will be outfitted with a temporary buyer's lounge in time for the New York Home Textile Market this month; and L & L Acquisitions will host for buyers a daily raffle, with winners receiving prizes. "We will also be visiting our tenants in person to get to know them and build a rapport with them," he said.

By early April, Levinson said he expects to have a remodeling plan in place so that improvements to the structure can begin by late spring. Planned renovations include: a formal buyers' lounge, a new building directory and the modernization of the public corridors. Other related improvements include the establishment of a Web site with information about the building and its tenants, and new marketing and promotional initiatives.

"We want our home textiles tenants to generate more business by being in this building," Levinson said.

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