Where in prime Manhattan can you find retail space for under $150 a square foot in a neighborhood boasting more than 50,000 college students and over 65,000 residents with an average household income of nearly $112,000?
The answer—almost unfathomably—is Eighth Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, the main artery of Greenwich Village.
Eighth Street is one of Manhattan’s hidden treasures, where entrepreneurs can launch a new retail business in ground-, upper- or lower-level space for an average of $143 per square foot, as Eastern Consolidated’s latest MetroGrid Report Greenwich Village: Eighth Street Corridor shows.
This should make just about anybody scratch their head, given that this is a city where average asking retail rents have risen to $3,683 per square foot in Midtown, $1,700 per square foot on the East Side and $977 per square foot in Soho, according to the Real Estate Board of New York’s Retail Report for Spring 2015.
Not only does Eighth Street serve as an incubator for new ideas, but it’s a demographic gold mine that blends the new and old and includes a large dose of New York City’s art, music and cultural history.
The New York Studio School at 8 West Eighth Street was the original home of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1931 to 1954. Bob Dylan met Allen Ginsberg at a party at the Eighth Street Book Shop, now Stumptown Coffee Roasters at MacDougal Street, and at 52 West Eighth Street, Jimi Hendrix opened Electric Lady Studios, which is still recording hits.
The Marlton Hotel at 5 West Eighth Street, which opened in 1903 and served as a bohemian hangout in the mid-20th century and later as an SRO, reopened in 2013 as a Parisian-inspired 107-room boutique hotel. On the corner of Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street, the Brevoort, a 20-story, landmarked, luxury co-op where Buddy Holly once lived, was built in the 1950s on the site of the legendary Brevoort Hotel. (My firm is currently marketing two retail spaces on the ground floor of the Brevoort—one 4,000 square feet and the other 700 square feet. A few blocks down, Eastern is offering for sale a long-term leasehold interest in an entire block-front at 44-58 East Eighth Street between Greene and Mercer Streets. The property consists of a 40-car parking garage and seven ground-floor retail spaces housing several independent neighborhood shops and major retailers, including Verizon Wireless and fresh&co.)
The Village Alliance BID district, which encompasses 44 blocks north of Washington Square Park and promotes leasing opportunities along the five-block stretch of Eighth Street from Broadway to Sixth Avenue, has worked with local building owners to create a more desirable retail mix. As a result, since 2005, the number of restaurants on Eighth Street has increased from one to 13, while the number of shoe stores has fallen from 20 to five, and gift and novelty shops have fallen from 10 to two.
Today, Eighth Street attracts up to 20,000 pedestrians a day, who can enjoy a number of restaurants, including the espresso bar Stumptown, the Greenwich Project, Amelie Le Bar a Vin, 8th Street Winecellar, Cho San Japanese Restaurant, Curry Kitchen, Neta, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria and Rasa.
With New York University, Cooper Union, the New School and Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law located in the Village, Eighth Street serves as a youthful and fun “campus corner” for over 50,000 university students, who have an estimated monthly discretionary spending budget between $600 and $1,100.
Other district attributes include 90,000 office workers employed in local businesses, and 27.3 million subway riders that pass through the West 4th Street, Astor Place, 8th Street and Christopher Street stations each year. Additionally, 30 percent of the 67,500 residents in the area earn over $150,000 annually, and 80 percent hold a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
Some of the greatest names in real estate own or have owned property on Eighth Street, including Rose Associates, Warren Buffet, Larry Silverstein, Rudin Management, Vornado and Buchbinder Warren. They have been instrumental in the corridor’s renaissance.
Eighth Street offers reasonable retail rents, substantial foot traffic and an abundance of residents and students with considerable discretionary income, creating an oasis in the middle of Manhattan that is ideal for new retailers and entrepreneurs with viable ideas. Thank goodness there are a few of those left!
Adelaide Polsinelli is senior managing director and principal at Eastern Consolidated.