Inside the New ‘Normal’ in Brick and Mortar

Normal store

Just weeks after opening its flagship store and factory in an 11,000-square-foot space on the ground and basement floors of the Chelsea Castle building at 150 West 22nd Street, the Normal custom earphone company and building landlord M. Rapaport Co. invited Commercial Observer for an exclusive tour of the brand new store.

The facility where Normal’s 10 3-D printers churn out earbuds custom-designed for every individual customer showcases the experience-based, tech-savvy methods that today’s retailers are employing in an age where brick-and-mortar retailers like the sleek, glassy store between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue appear anything but traditional. Read More


J&R Express Planned at Century 21 Flagship

Century 21 (Chor Ip:Flickr).

J&R Music and Computer World will open a 1,500-square-foot boutique location inside the Century 21 flagship department store at 22 Cortlandt Street, between Broadway and Church Street, The New York Post reported. The new store is expected to open in October.

J&R, which was founded in 1971 by Joe and Rachelle Friedman, closed its store at 1-15 Park Row in April. While the company’s website says it plans to redevelop its Park Row store, J&R is currently without an open location. Read More


Subsidized Residents Question New Private Learning Center

444 Second Avenue.

The private Explore + Discover early learning center slated to open in a retail space on the ground floor of the 14-floor, 404-unit Henry Phipps Plaza South affordable housing complex has provoked questions about whether it’s appropriate to place the pricey daycare program in a building whose occupants can’t afford it.

While residents of the building of 290 Section 8 units and 114 other affordable apartments at 444 Second Avenue in Kips Bay acknowledged that nonprofit landlord Phipps Houses Services could help pay for upkeep of their subsidized housing through the 15-year, $80-per-square foot lease, they expressed frustration that their children wouldn’t have access to the educational programs for pupils aged three months to two years. Read More


Jeff Sutton Sole Owner of 747 Madison Avenue Retail


Jeff Sutton is the buyer of SL Green‘s 33.3 percent stake in the retail co-op at 747 Madison Avenue, according to a New York Post report. The deal makes Mr. Sutton the sole owner of the space.

SL Green announced earlier this week it had agreed to sell its stake in the co-op in deal valuing the space at $160 million. In conjunction with the sale, the real estate investment trust agreed to make a $30 million preferred equity investment in the property.

Read More


Related Picks Winick to Market Luxury Tower Retail


Related Companies has selected Winick Realty Group to exclusively market four newly-constructed retail spaces that will anchor a 34-story luxury residential building at 500 West 30th Street.

Located at a crossroads between the High Line, Chelsea and Hudson Yards, the tower offers retailers a space at the base of 390 residential units set to be Read More


Nordstrom Rack to Open in Downtown Brooklyn Next Year


A 41,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack is slated to open at United American Land’s 505 Fulton Street in spring 2014.

“We want to be in the top locations across the country, so this spot at the heart of downtown Brooklyn is big for us,” said Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, in a prepared statement. “We are thrilled to become back of this exciting community at a historic location, and we intend to make the most of the opportunity to serve customers and give them a reason to shop the Rack.” Read More


Up, Up and Away: Retailers Pushing Boundaries on Upper East Side


National retailers are pushing north from 72nd Street on the Upper East Side, chasing changing demographics and searching for value, according to several brokers active in the market. Both 86th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues and Madison Avenue north of 72nd Street have seen strong activity and booming lease prices.

“I did deals up there 10 or 15 years ago and was hard-pressed to push $110 to $120 per square foot,” said Patrick Breslin, executive vice president of global retail at Studley. “Today, if you can find good real estate on Lex on 82nd to 85th, you’re looking at $400, $500, $600 per square foot.” Read More


REBNY Issues Call for Submissions for Retail Deal of the Year Awards


The Real Estate Board of New York has opened the submission process for the Retail Deal of the Year Awards, it was announced yesterday. The awards recognize the most creative and significant retail deals in New York City.

Submissions for the awards are due April 25. Winners will be announced at the REBNY Retail Committee’s Deal of the Year cocktail party on June 11.

“It’s certainly the most prestigious award given in our business,” Peter Braus, retail committee chair at REBNY, told The Commercial Observer. “As retail has gotten to be more of a factor in New York real estate, it has gotten to be quite the market prestige to win the award.” Read More


Eight New Stores to Hit Chelsea Market Next Month

Chelsea Market

Ownership at the Chelsea Market is reportedly renovating 5,700 square feet of space to make way for eight new vendor kiosks, where cooking and food preparation will be on display for its 120,000 weekly visitors.

Most of the space was created when Amy’s Bread moved part of its operations off-site, and the rest will come from the renovation of a loading dock and an office, the New York Times reports.

Leases are currently being negotiated and rates will run in the $200 to $400 per square foot range, and the stores, to be delivered in plug-and-play condition and geared towards start-ups and “less-established” businesses, will be operational as soon as mid-February, said Michael Phillips, COO of Jamestown Properties, according to the Times. Read More


Retail Run on Bowery

Bowery is fast becoming a retail hotbed. (image: Peter Guthrie on Flickr)

Much has been made of the metamorphosis of the Bowery from one time skid row to trendy runway. Boutique hotels, apartment buildings, the New Museum and residential developments have landed and it seems retail is realizing the street’s potential.

“I really think it’s coming together down there,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail Read More

Lease Beat, Retail

Opening Office in 7 WTC, Westfield Ramps Up to Begin Leasing WTC Retail

WTC Site When Finished

Westfield is ramping up its efforts to market and lease the roughly 365,000 square feet of retail space that is being constructed at the World Trade Center several sources say.

The company, one of the country’s largest owners and operators of retail and mall space, leased an office high in 7 World Trade Center overlooking the 16-acre WTC site and has installed a sophisticated marketing suite that it is using to woo big name tenants. Read More


All the Twists and Turns Behind Times Square Theater, Last Week’s Most Creative Deal of the Year Winner

Times Square Theater.

Marvel Comics kicked the tires for a proposed flagship store and theme restaurant based on the comic book publisher’s legion of mutant superheroes. Burger King considered changing the 1920s-vintage theater into “The World’s Largest Burger King.” Even the professional grapplers from the World Wrestling Federation envisioned the domed auditorium as a studio-slash-retail-slash-performance space, where wrestlers would fight as diners ate their suppers. Alas, like the other contenders, the WWF walked away.

And so it went for the brokers and potential tenants seeking to fill the old Times Square Theater, a space so pockmarked with hidden challenges, prohibitive rent requirements and aging infrastructure, that the quest to find a suitable tenant lurched on for an entire decade, from shortly after George W. Bush’s election as president to the second half of Barack Obama’s first term in office.

Considering the false starts and dashed hopes C. Bradley Mendelson and Alan Schmerzler faced while negotiating their drama-filled deal last year for 217 West 42nd Street, an award ceremony on par with the Tony’s wouldn’t have been out of the question.

“We ran into a recession, we ran into 9/11, there was a lot of stuff going on,” said Mr. Mendelson upon winning the Real Estate Board of New York’s coveted Most Creative Deal of the Year award last week at the 14th Annual Retail Awards at the 101 Club. “We actually should have gotten an award for keeping the agency for as long we did.” Read More


The CO Gets Tipsy At REBNY’s Awards

Brad Mendelson

The Real Estate Board of New York handed out its annual retail deal of the year awards last night at Club 101 on Park Avenue. Fresh off its retail adventure at ICSC in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, The Commercial Observer was present to capture the cocktails, the awards ceremony and of course the Read More