Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

Emerging Retail ‘Hoods

By Eric Marx | June 15, 2004

Retailers flocking to “in-between” neighborhoods and areas expanding their boundaries

In a city where the only constant is change, a diverse slew of up and coming blocks are transforming into swanky shopping destinations. Brokers describe the buzz as an exciting time for nation-wide high-end retailers, home furnishing stores and restaurant chains.
Retailers are filling into “in-between” areas to link disparate neighborhoods from the bottom of the Upper West Side to Canal Street.
“National retailers have finally realized the power of the city,” says Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president at Newmark New Spectrum Retail.

The blurring and blending is obvious in the West 50s, where Times Square is now linking to Columbus Circle. Downtown, the West Village is hooking up with the Meat Packing District.

In other cases, retail areas are extending their reach. SoHo, for example, is moving further south to Canal Street. Park Avenue South is moving north, edging into Midtown.

At a time when no residential neighborhood is spurned, few retail neighborhoods are undesirable either.

“Every area is now viable in each market of the city,” says Roseman.

Tourists and shoppers heading to the Time Warner Center from Times Square will create new retail opportunities in the 40s and 50s along Broadway and Seventh Avenue, including at buildings like 1775 Broadway between 57th and 58th Streets, Roseman says. The Time Warner building itself has become the “50-yard line for retail,” Roseman says, with leases turning over on nearby Broadway for between $250 to $300 a square foot.

North of Columbus Circle, there’s a drop-off that may turn with the addition of a giant Bed Bath & Beyond at the corner of 64th Street and Broadway opposite Lincoln Center, says Karen Bellantoni, senior managing director at Robert K. Futterman & Associates.

But the long intersections at 65th and 70th Streets make the area difficult for pedestrians to navigate, which makes for a less than ideal retail climate, she says. Further up, Broadway in the high 60s and low 70s is largely settled, and many of the stores will not turn over any time soon.

Along Park Avenue South, Roseman says he sees a push beyond the 23rd Street corridor into the mid- and high 20s — currently a no-man’s land of fast food joints and mom-and-pop shops, with the Sushi Samba and Dos Caminos restaurants pushing the boundary upwards.
Downtown, Bleecker Street in the West Village is to many minds the hottest retail area right now for cutting-edge fashion. “The quality of the tenants going there has jumped in the last few years and others have followed, creating a real movement,” says Bruce Sinder, president of Sinvin Realty. Both Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren have opened stores, with spaces in the area leasing at around $100 a square foot and in some cases going as high as $150 a square foot.

Sinder predicts that the Meat Packing District’s proximity will draw further attention to the area as shoppers and tourists discover the two locales in tandem.

“It’s smaller. It’s downtown. It’s hipper,” says Sinder, “and it’s going to spread to the West Village because with the high-end designers coming to Bleecker, younger designers are going to nearby streets.”

In SoHo, Sinder says there’s been a considerable turnaround, which he attributes to increased local and European tourists returning since Sept. 11 and landlords being more realistic with their prices. In northern SoHo, rents range from $150 to $200 a square foot, with rents below Spring in the south averaging between $75 and $100 a square foot. Sinder says he sees continued expansion below Spring and Broome as mainstream retailers begin to follow Bloomingdale’s and H&M’s lead.

On the other end of Broadway, Richard Hodos, president of Madison HGCD, says there’s reason to believe additional retail may sprout up out of the activity in Union Square and at the Broadway and Houston intersection. “It’s certainly on our radar screen,” Hodos says.
The Lower East Side is more of a question mark and yet national retailers might soon discover it, Hodos says. Clearer is the retail picture in the Financial District, where Hodos says there’s a “paradigm shift” in white-collar jobs moving to the west side, away from the South Street Seaport and Fulton Street.

Retailers are still waiting to see how the Fulton Street Transit Center and the World Financial Center development project play out, and yet the picture is coming into sharper focus, Hodos says. Just this month, Hodos put out an RFP for the Moran’s and Hudson River Club spaces in the Winter Garden atrium in Battery Park City and he says he’s confident he’ll be able to select from among some of the top restaurateurs in the country.