Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

Back in Boomtown

By Steve Viuker | September 8, 2005

Retailers Want a Presence in Soho, Tribeca and environs

A combination of retailers with a European slant; a influx of high-income Wall Street-types living in trendy, cutting edge-buildings and a booming real estate market have made Tribeca, the sleepy neighbor of Soho, as wide awake as those double-shot lattes the new Lily is selling.

Celebs are embracing the area too. Robert de Niro created the Tribeca Film Festival, Meryl Streep bouht an apartment at Riverloft on Laight Street and Harvey Keitel is seen on a regular basis.

“We’ve rented BellyDance Maternity on 548 Hudson and, across the street, a hair salon,” said Chris Owles, managing director of Soho-based Sinvin Realty.

“Space on Wooster Street that is $100 per square foot goes for $175 a block north. Across from the Tribeca Grand Hotel, a 160,000 square foot building is going up. Most of the activity will be on lower Broadway, as you get closer to Canal.


According to Owles, the Soho/Noho intersection has always been well established but there is a lot of room that can be filled in there.
Bowery is on the verge of becoming a neighborhood and you have Nolita and Soho bridging it with new clubs and restaurants.
“Many people look for that fringe element, which the meatpacking district became so successful.”

Looking for an up and comer? “I’d look at Hudson Square area,” said Owles. “Jacques Torres Chocolates from Brooklyn has opened there. There is also some residential development near the Spring and Greenwich Streets areas, and many will have retail downstairs.”

Sinvin vice president Roxanne Betesh said retail condo is a growing trend. “Stores bid up prices on retail condos,” she explained. “Like any homebuyer, many retailers want to own their own space, build equity, profit from appreciation, and never be forced to move by a landlord or high rents again.”

Tribeca has been known as a neighborhood of big apartments and empty streets, she says, but this is changing.

“With the new residential towers, there are enough residents to support more services and make it a live-able neighborhood. Whole Foods is planning on going in on Warren. Tribeca is seeing a more diverse retail base.”

Faith Consolo, Chairman of Retail Leasing and Sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman, says that Soho is a great testing ground for the new and trendy.

“Many Europeans firms have established a presence,” she said. “And retailers who are entering New York who don’t want to compete on Madison Avenue look to Soho. It is a big tourist mecca, especially for European tourists. It reminds them of the great streets of Europe in terms of strolling and shopping. It’s not Midtown with tremendous office buildings.”

Bloomingdale’s gave an anchor to Soho; Barney’s co-op is expanding on Wooster. That, says Consolo, put Soho back on the map.

Soho is so back. Giggles is there from San Francisco. Oakley, signature eyewear and apparel, came from the West Coast. I see another bookstore downtown and hopefully a supermarket. And the rebuilding of the WTC would be wonderful for downtown.”

Garrick/Aug chairman Larry Selevan breaks the Soho area into east and west.

“Soho east is the Broadway corridor (Bloomingdale’s). The big box national retailers are interested and we’ve been showing them spaces. There is a real price break once you cross Broome Street. Vornado bought a block right below Broome and have been speaking to a number of major retailers.”

He reckons rents will climb upward to $200 per square foot.

“Yellow Rat Bastard, between Broom and Grand, do a huge business. They cater to a young Japanese-American customer with a sort of ‘under-ground’ cache. That corridor is ripe to blossom.”

Selevan points out that from Broome Street north, there is so much foot traffic after 10 am that you can’t walk all the way to Houston. On the weekends, below Broome is very busy right down to Canal.

“If you get above Broome Street and have the right location and size, landlords are already getting $250-$300 per square foot. Below Canal, going down Broadway to Fulton Street, will become a very hip retail strip.”

Rouse, the company which operated the South Street Seaport, has been sold to General Growth, a very aggressive repositioner of retail properties. Changes are afoot here too.

“They are planning to link the Seaport with the site of the former Fulton Street market and make that all retail though Front Street,” said Selevan.

“The Port Authority wants to have river to river retail from the World Financial Center down the Broadway corridor to the Seaport.”