Want to Be Domenico Vacca’s New Neighbor in Midtown?


19 West 55th Street (Photo: CoStar).
19 West 55th Street (Photo: CoStar).

Two floors of retail space next to Domenico Vacca’s new Midtown shop are available for lease, Commercial Observer has learned, at the once lawsuit-ridden Branson, believed to be once operating in part as an illegal hotel

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A Lee & Associates team is shopping around 10,300 square feet of retail space at 19 West 55th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue, according to the brokerage. There is 4,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, with another 4,000 above, according to the Lee & Associates team. The 2,300-square-foot basement is also available for storage.

The two-building site is now attracting more tenants such as Mr. Vacca’s shop, a high-end men’s fashion retailer, which The New York Post reported Sunday would move off Fifth Avenue and into 15 West 55th Street, both of which Assa Properties bought in 2013 for $60 million. The two buildings share a basement.

Crain’s New York Business reported this February that the owners were being hit with lawsuits from the city alleging they were operating part of it as an illegal hotel.

Now, however, the brokers argue that renovations have eradicated any trace that there was ever a hotel there, and are focused on the retail potential of the building.

A tenant also has the option of eventually leasing the third and fourth floors for a showroom and office space—similar to the setup slated at Mr. Vacca’s neighboring shop.

“That would be everything a brand image could possibly be,” said Lee & Associates’ Garry Steinberg, who’s marketing the property with colleagues JP Sutro and Richard Kave. “For not only the public, for the industry they’re in and for the friends and executives for their company. Don’t be surprised if fashion shows were held on the third floor.”

More and more retailers are ditching Fifth Avenue and opting for the side streets, the brokers told CO, where rents can be a “small fraction” of average asking prices of $3,000 per square foot on the main thoroughfare. (The brokers declined to provide a concrete asking rent.)

One example the brokers pointed to was Ralph Lauren, which is on the opposite side at 711 Fifth Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street. They added that 19 West 55th Street stands out because of the available size, which he said is big enough to hold a flagship tenant.

“There are very few locations off of Fifth Avenue that a retailer can [lease] that offer the size of what we can offer at 19 West 55th Street,” Mr. Steinberg said.