With the Bowery’s ‘Diamond Corner’ Vacant, Betesh Combines Storefronts for Potential Bank Branch

Posted on: December 21st, 2015 at 9:26 am by
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Even the teensy Chinatown diamond district is feeling the squeeze from controversial landlord Joseph Betesh.

Word first circulated around this time last year that jewelry vendors operating in the ground level of 88 Bowery (corner of Hester) were scrambling to find new homes in the nearby emporiums. That chatter ultimately proved true, and eight months ago, the entire commercial footprint was emptied. Fortunately, most of the small jewelers here were able to secure new locations inside the Jewelry Exchange building down the block. Rumors are growing louder that Betesh wants to install a bank in this valuable location. No confirmation just yet on whether that’ll happen..

Joseph Betesh (pka Milestone Equities) purchased the property – which includes the Sun Bright Hotel SRO – under the guise of Bowery 88 LLC back in 2013 for $14.8 million. That transaction was part of the larger $62 million portfolio of eleven buildings. His family owns the Dr. Jay’s streetwear empire.

Property ownership notwithstanding, the purge of commercial businesses is long past, with remodeling now upon us. The adjacent stores comprising 88 Bowery, which sat dormant for months, recently reactivated and are now being combined into one large unit. So, again, easy to conceive that a bank of some sort could arrive.

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This corner spot at 88 Bowery had been on the open market in years past (via RKF). Formerly known as the Diamond Corner, the space housed businesses like Natalie Jewelry, Newman’s Coins, Claudette Jewelry, Connie Jewelry, May-Bo Jewelry, Jewelry Design by Sara, among others.

The last time this smalltime jewelry district was threatened was some ten years ago, when a Commerce Bank forced vendors from the corner building at Canal Street. It’s now a TD Bank. Is this a repeat?

As for the Sun Bright Hotel, it has its own issues. DOB filings from earlier this year indicate the landlord is trying to correct the occupancy problems.

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Diamond Corner, October 2013

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