Thursday, July 21, 2005

Closing In The Woods to Save the Forest

I wrote about the legendary store In The Woods on St. Marks Place awhile ago, but the best part of the story didn’t get told. What readers of the Sunday Times Real Estate section already know is that Charles FitzGerald has lived on St. Marks Place since 1959. He’s owned many shops and galleries here. But the reason he’s closing the last remaining store is because he can get a whole lot more money leasing out the space (he owns the building) than operating a hippie dippy chatchki shop. He is using the money to pay back a loan that he took against his building in order to purchase old growth forests in Maine, which are not protected from logging. In fact, much of the money Mr. FitzGerald has made owning property on St. Marks Place has gone towards environmental preservation, to the point where his St. Marks property was so heavily leveraged, he nearly went broke and had two buildings repossessed in the 1980s. He estimates he owns 100,000 acres in Maine, which will be preserved in perpetuity. The 70 year-old Boston Brahman says he’s determined to die a poor New Yorker, and Maine will be so much richer for it. Hurry to In The Woods before it closes for good (the space will reopen as a lounge/café sometime in 2006), and get 50% off your hand-carved wooden salad bowl and tongs.