Keith McNally may be enjoying some schadenfreude right about now.
It turns out that the Restoration Hardware store that ejected McNally's popular restaurant Pastis from its very successful Ninth Avenue home is running into some legal problems of its own. We aren't talking about the initial contractor whose principals are awaiting trial regarding the death of a 22-year old worker in the construction site's excavation pit last year. The current problem that the store faces is that it is nearly six times the size of any retail store that the site is zoned for, and the Department of Buildings has not yet issued an exemption.
According to the D.O.B., the maximum size of a retail store for the building being gut renovated and expanded at 9-19th Ninth Avenue is 10,000 square-feet. The store planned for the site is 58,659-square-feet, which is somewhat larger to say the least. DNAinfo reports that the developers of the site were informed in early March of this year that their permits would be revoked for failure to comply with city code. In addition, the nature of the business was misrepresented as an "interior decorating establishment" which, oddly enough, would only be allowed to take up a mere 750 square-feet in such a structure according to current zoning laws. Construction has not been halted, because the developer immediately engaged the D.O.B. to resolve the dispute, but it has been over four months since the notification without resolution. If discussions fall through, the construction will be immediately halted not because the building is not up to code, but because its intended use is.
Since the talks are apparently continuing, its a good bet that the store will eventually open as planned, but possibly with some concessions that are yet to remade clear. It has been known for quite some time that the store intended for the site was meant to be extremely large, but it is not yet a done deal. At the moment, it's not out of the question that Restoration hardware may either have to settle for a smaller store sharing the building with other retailers or pull out entirely and find a suitable site to build the flagship it had intended.
Keith McNally may be enjoying some schadenfreude right about now.
Many longtime New York dwellers like The Shophound still can't fail to cringe while strolling down Gansevoort Street when we pass the sad empty space at no. 69 where the beloved diner deluxe Florent (pictured above) used to welcome customers almost 24 hours a day. After the neighborhood stalwart was unceremoniously booted from the space in 2008, a succession of restaurants has tried to make a go of it in the space, but none succeeded, perhaps as a bitter reminder of the bad karma that builds up when an ill-advised landlord whimsically decides to push out a thriving neighborhood mainstay.
Well, the space's time as a restaurant has come to an end as Madewell has announced the address as it's newest Manhattan location. Expected to open sometime in 2016, it is not yet known exactly how much the space will be transformed, though it seems unlikely that it will still need a kitchen. While the interior will likely be completely changed, it is not yet known if the original R&L Restaurant sign and diner-style exterior will remain or if it can be altered at all as part of the Gansevoort Historic District. In any event, the string of post-Florent failures has made the space known as a cursed space for restaurants. Perhaps a change of purpose and a burgeoning national chain will revive the building's fortunes.
New York's ruthless real estate scene has claimed another widely admired store as WWD reports that OWEN, which only opened in 2012, is being forced to close at the end of July due to redevelopment of the Meatpacking District building that houses it. It turns out that the store's lease had run out, but the landlord allowed it run from month to month until plans were confirmed to demolish the entire building at 809 Washington Street and rebuild it. The entire block of 48 Gansevoort Street to 74 Gansevoort Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets is reportedly set for a historic restoration and renovation pending the usual approvals by the Department of Buildings, Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Well, at least Owen wasn't forced out by some exorbitant rent increase, but the store is being pushed out nonetheless.
Owner Phillip Salem promises that Owen will return. “I’m going to revamp and relaunch the store. This could be the blessing we need to take the store to the next level,” he tells WWD, and is looking for a new location somewhere downtown. Salem made a name for Owen by focusing on emerging independent designers like Cushnie et Ochs, Jonathan Simkhai, Olcay Gulsen, Tanya Taylor, A.L.C. and Suno to name a few and opened with a striking interior design that featured open paper lunch bags fastened to the walls and ceiling. Those bags will have to come down soon. "On the last day everybody can take a paper bag as a memory," he tells WWD. Hopefully they will reappear in a new space without having to wait for too long. While the boutique is on hiatus, Salem will keep the name alive with the Owen branded handbag line that he has been selling since 2014. In the meantime, Owen fans should be sure to visit the store before it is gone at the end of the month, and grab one of those paper bags for the memories.
In today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Molly Young returns to take on The Kooples, a French sportswear brand that has aggressively insinuated itself into New York's retail scene, first by way of in-store shops at Bloomingdale's and now with two freestanding boutiques in SoHo and the Meatpacking District with more likely to follow. A play on a Gallicization of the word "couples", The Kooples are actually three French brothers who created "an outfitter of romantic partners who enjoy dressing like each other," our shopper writes, and yet, our shopper seems to shop alone, which is, apparently, also allowed. Following Critical Shopper protocol, she tries on, and eventually makes a purchase, but notes that despite its increasing visibility in New York, The Kooples may not yet be serving many actual New Yorkers just yet.
During my first 30 minutes in the shop, every customer appeared to be foreign: one French, one German, two British, and three unclassifiable (deep tans, faint accents).
Maybe it is the exceedingly slender silhouettes or the extra slick styling, but the jury is still seems to be out on how much lasting impact The Kooples might have in New York and on U.S. shoppers.
Critical Shopper: The Kooples Is for Couples (Usually European) By Molly Young (NYTimes)
The Kooples 401 W 14th Street between Ninth Avenue & Washington Street, Meatpacking District and 115 Mercer Street between Spring & Prince Streets, SoHo
Is fashion being pushed out of the Meatpacking District in favor of performance sportswear?
It would seem to be the case these days. The south side of 14th street, currently home to Patagonia and Asics will next welcome a Quiksilver BoardRiders Club at 408 West 14th Street, the same building that until recently housed Carlos Miele's boutique. We aren't sure if the 5,900 square feet that Quiksilver has taken includes that exact space (there are a few storefronts that share the address) but it continues the trend of high fashion stores migrating away from the Meatpacking District and being replaced by more middle-of-the road merchants. With Columbia Sportswear and a pop-up store for rugged boot specialists Sorel coming next month to the neighborhood, the area is starting to feel more like it is geared toward athletic activewear than the urbane high style that first attracted serious shoppers. Quiksilver will add a surf component to the neighborhood as well as (on the plus side) filling at least some of the empty retail space that continues to bedevil what is still supposed to be a hot shopping area.
Anthropologie seizes the entire Dey Street retail space (NYPost - 4th item)
EYE ON THE WINDOWS:
New Shops For Sisley Cosmetics,
Fly London & Crow Philosophy
Set For The West Village
Fly London & Crow Philosophy
Set For The West Village
Amongst the disturbing abundance of empty storefronts downtown, Shoppers will be relieved to see at least a few of them being filled in the coming months. There are a lot of new stores set to hit the city this Fall, but a stroll around the West Village last week brought three to The Shophound's attention.
The first, on Bleecker Street, is the former Kurt Geiger shop at no. 375 which has swiftly been replaced by another British footwear brand, Fly London. As far as we can tell, this is the brand's first U.S. store, though the label will be familiar to shoppers. You won't see anything like the previous tenant's elegant pumps and boots there, however. Fly's stock in trade is a funkier, chunkier (and substantially less expensive) street style that frankly seems more suited to the mostly extinct 8th Street shoe stores of years past than the more designer driven offerings that will surround it. Whether this is a new direction for Bleecker Street remains to be seen.
Bleecker is also getting another new cosmetics boutique that falls firmly in the high end. French luxury makeup and treatment brand Sisley Paris (not to be confused with the Benetton-owned clothing brand of the same name) is taking over Freemans Sporting Club's former digs at No. 343. The window promises a Holiday opening, so pricey skin care fans will have to wait a few months for this one.
Finally, a short walk over to the Meatpacking District reveals the impending arrival of a previously unheard of men's store called Crow Philosophy at 15 Gansevoort Street near Hudson Street (most recently the home of Yoyamart). Set for a Fall opening, this shop will showcase the line's debut collection designed by fashion industry veteran Tom Puls featuring sophisticated sportswear in dark shades with luxurious leather touches. Launching a new brand with a New York boutique can be a costly gamble, but the potential rewards can be high if everything falls into place. See the Gallery above for a look at the soon-to-open storefronts.
Though there are still a lot of empty storefronts on West 14th Street, one eagerly awaited new arrival just made its Meatpacking District debut. French contemporary sportswear label The Kooples has quietly opened the doors of its first New York store (another is headed soon to SoHo) in the space formerly occupied by Moschino at 401 West 14th Street. Created as a label for men and women to shop together and share (Kooples = couples, get it?) The Kooples is the latest in a wave of French labels like Sandro, Maje, Zadig & Voltaire and Comptoir des Cotonniers, to name a few, who have arrived in the U.S. to cater to customers who in the past might have gravitated toward the designer labels that have now become prohibitively expensive even for affluent shoppers.
On 14th Street, The Kooples has replaced Moschino's whimsical white interior with serious slabs of black and white marble. Is there a whiff of Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent aesthetic in the air? Well, the sleek stone and chrome design bears more than a passing resemblance to the store concept template that the rejuvenated couture house has replicated globally. You'll see the Slimane effect in the collections as well with skinny suits and body skimming shirts and sweaters for men and graphic prints with vintage touches in a distinctive black, gray, white and red palette for the ladies on the other side of the store. Harder edged, streetwise shoes and accessories for both complete the look, and while the label stops short of blatant knock-offs, the current influence is clear —and who can blame them? The look has flummoxed critics who expect more originality from Saint Laurent, but delighted the customers who can afford it. It makes perfect sense for a trend-driven label like the Kooples to translate it a tier or two downmarket to a slightly less extravagant clientele that is still several steps away from cheaper fast fashion from Zara and H&M. The strategy seems to be working well for the relatively young brand. With outposts in Los Angeles and San Francisco already up and running, in-store shops in several Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue locations and U.S. e-commerce set to debut soon, expect to see a lot more of The Kooples soon
The Kooples 401 West 14th Street at Ninth Avenue, Meatpacking District
Restaurant bloggers were abuzz earlier this year when Keith McNally announced that his scene-making Meatpacking District bistro Pastis would be closing earlier this year to accommodate renovations to the 19th Century stable building it has lived in since 1999. He has promised that it will reopen in the same place once the renovations are complete, but the city's foodies have been skeptical amid rumors that the restaurant would move to other possible locations including the Beekman Hotel or the space which P.J.Clarke's currently occupies in Brookfield Place (which comes with its own contentious story of tenant-landlord discord). McNally has remained steadfast, but DNAinfo is now reporting that Restoration Hardware has filed a 'Memorandum of Lease' document with the city indicating that it plans to take over the entire building at 9-19 Ninth Avenue once a modern steel and glass two-story addition on the roof is completed (pictured in the rendering above). Normally, this would be a lot of space for Restoration Hardware, but the home furnishings chain has recently disclosed plans for big flagship stores in major cities that include more of a lifestyle point of view that could include its own restaurants or even a hotel. The long standing Flatiron district location has just added two more floors and redubbed itself RH New York, The Gallery in the Historic Flatiron District featuring a broader assortment and expanded decorating services. Could the same thing be headed across town to the Meatpacking District? The building's landlord is not confirming that any tenant has been signed for the renovated building throwing both McNally's and Restoration Hardware's plans into question. Considering that the rooftop addition could take a while, we might not know what the full plans are for the building anytime soon, but we will be watching for more developments.
You can tell that a shopping district has turned a corner when highly desirable real estate spaces start going to strangely contrives establishments. The once piping-hot Meatpacking District is currently plagued with a surplus of empty storefronts, with more to come in the next couple of years. Agents and landlords have had to get creative to fill leases these days, which may explain why a prime spot on the south side of 14th street between 9th Avenue and Washington Street will soon house the first American boutique for Lexus.
Yes, that's right, a car company is opening up a store to be called Intersect by Lexus amongst the fashion boutiques. The company, a division of Toyota, has leased 16,500 square feet at 412 West 14th St (pictured above with an added logo) over three floors to show not only its cars, but other items including clothing and accessories from labels that "harmonize with Lexus' philosophies," in its own words. The space will also include an art gallery and a café, because why not just throw everything in there? A similar store has already opened in Tokyo and others are planned for major cities including Dubai.
The thinking behind this move is that the store will be a great way to reach the upscale customer base that supports luxury car brands like Lexus who may not be enthusiastic about touring car dealerships.
Lure them in with fashion and sell them a car?
Of course, the concept does somewhat underestimate the savvy of the city's shoppers, who tend to be fairly adept at discerning a real store from a marketing scheme. An opening date for Intersect by Lexus has yet been announced.
Oh, what has happened to Manhattan most fashionable shopping strip?
Have the high end consumers of the world moved on? The Meatpacking District is in the middle of a particularly painful phase of its evolution that comes just after the point where its cachet peaks and the retail rents spike, ejecting many of the same stores that made it desirable before there are enough new tenants with deeper pockets to fill in the empty space. Some major departures have been quickly replaced. Stella McCartney's store immediately got split upon her departure between contemporary brands Joie and Alice + Olivia, and Moschino's former digs are currently being transformed for The Kooples, but Alexander McQueen, Puma, Matthew Williamson, DDCLab, Design Within Reach and Krizia have all left holes in the retail-scape that have yet to be filled despite some long stretches of vacancy. In addition, there are new spaces just to the right of the former Krizia store that fall under the HighLine and appear to be a something of a challenge to lease. Want more? The former gas station at the corner of 14th and 10th Avenue is being redeveloped into, yes, more retail space. Some of the departed stores had their own troubles that may have had nothing to do with rent hikes, od course. Krizia looked pretty shaky from the start, for example, but what will it mean for what only a couple of seasons ago looked like the most sought-after location in the city? It's going to take a few seasons at least to fill up those empty 14th Street storefronts, and who is going to shell out the now increased rate to move in? Are we just a few seasons away from Gap and Banana Republic moving in to make the Meatpacking District just another destination for mall-store shopping?