Mon-Sat, 9am-9pm; Sun, noon-6pm
6 at Astor Pl.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
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In this age of exploding commercial rents and national retail chains willing to pay them, it behooves a local merchant to own his building. At least it's worked out that way for Astor Wines & Spirits, which has just relocated from its longtime leased home (and eventual Walgreens) to the Theodore De Vinne Press Building, a neo-Romanesque Noho landmark that Edwin Fisher, Astor's former owner, had the foresight to buy over twenty years ago. Under the direction of Fisher's son Andrew, the newly christened and handsomely arch-ceilinged Astor Center retains the store's broad selection and egalitarian vibe, with a few notable improvements: a 57-degree, 70 percent-humidity "cool room" for storing fragile, rare, and organic wines; a tasting bar equipped with spittoons and glassware; and a library of wine-reference books. Education will play an even greater role at the Study, a combination kitchen-classroom Fisher hopes to open this fall.