Is Nordstrom Planning A Rack Store Just A Block From Its Manhattan Flagship?

Traditionally, prestigious department stores have made an effort to keep their outlet stores a safe distance away from their full-line flagships. After all, why confuse the issue for customers? It looks like Nordstrom may be busting that paradigm as The Real Deal is reporting that executives from the off-price Nordstrom Rack are eyeing a space at 3 Columbus Circle (pictured above) for a new location along with another on West 34th Street. That would put a Rack store less than a block away from the huge, full line flagship store that is being built at the bottom of a skyscraper at 225 West 57th Street. The Rack would be in the southeast corner of the building, replacing a Bank of America branch, and literally across Broadway from an entrance to the mother ship store that is expected to open in 2019. While the flagship will be a whopping seven floors, the proposed Rack store will be also be a sizable 40,ooo square feet over three levels, giving Nordstrom something of a mega-shopping headquarters that has never been seen among Manhattan's rarefied department stores where shopping neighborhoods have been strictly stratified, and outlets are more preferably sequestered in discount centers like Woodbury Commons. Outside of independent off-price chains like Century 21 and the defunct Lehmann's, Filene's Basement and Daffy's, Manhattan had traditionally been an outlet-free zone for its luxury department stores. Lately, however, that has been changing, in part thanks to Nordstrom which first entered New York City with a Rack location just off Union Square. Now a Bloomingdale's outlet is set to open later this season at 72nd Street and Broadway, and Saks Off 5th will open in the Financial District at 1 Liberty Plaza, just on the other side of the Word Trade Center complex from an upcoming full line store in Brookfield Place. Still, if this deal comes to fruition, Nordstrom will be the first one to have its own outlet located practically across the street from one of its largest flagship stores.

Nordstrom Rack eyeing 3 Columbus Circle space (The Real Deal)


FAO Schwarz ThisClose To Signing A Times Square Lease

1633-broadway-renderingThough FAO Schwarz has only a couple of weeks left before it leaves its longtime home in the GM Building, it looks likely that it will be back in Manhattan by 2016's Holiday season in a retail space that is remarkably similar to its soon to be former neighbor the Apple Store. The Commercial Observer reports that, as had been rumored earlier,  the legendary toy store is about to wrap up negotiations to move into an underground space currently being reconfigured at the Paramount Building at 1633 Broadway between 50th and 51st Streets, Originally a sunken plaza not unlike the one that predated the Apple Store in front of the GM building, the new space will have a street level entryway similar to the Fifth Avenue Apple Store's "Cube" (rendering above) which will lead to 40,000 square feet on two underground levels with 14-foot ceilings, allowing for some of the dramatic displays that made FAO Schwarz famous. The Observer reports that the 15-year lease will cost about $4 million per year, a substantial savings on the reported $15.6 million it currently pays on Fifth Avenue, not to mention the increase it would pay had it chosen to remain where it is.
Executives at Toys 'R' Us, FAO Schwarz's parent company, have declined to confirm the new location for the store, but one would be hard pressed to find a better new location for the tourist magnet.

FAO Schwarz Wrapping Up Negotiations for Xmas 2016 Opening in Times Square (Commercial Observer)
Fifth Avenue Farewell: FAO Schwarz Officially Closing In July


Is This The Entrance To A New Bed Bath & Beyond On Columbus Avenue?

There have been rumors for months that the popular home chain Bed Bath & Beyond was getting ready to open a second Upper West Side store, and if they are true, it looks like the opening may not be far off. About a Year ago, stories began circulating that the residents of a high-rise apartment building at 100 West 93rd Street and Columbus Avenue were receiving coupons for a new branch of the chain set to open in the new cluster of stores being constructed at the base of their building. The store's representatives refused to confirm the news, and the actual building seemed at the time to be a long way from completion. Now, the plywood has come down, and the entrance to the kind of basement space that would comply with Columbus Avenue's new storefront zoning regulations appears to be nearly finished. The folks at Bed Bath & Beyond are still mum, but that's not unusual for chains these days who often want the element of surprise to help publicize new stores.
At any rate, something is ready to go in down there, and it looks like it may only be a matter of weeks before we find out for sure.


C.Wonder Responds To Bad Buzz(feed)

CWonderSoHoDoorsC.Wonder is once again in the news, and not in the best way.
Today's WWD has unidentified Burch Creative Capital (the owner of C.Wonder) staffers refuting an Friday afternoon item in Buzzfeed that claims the three year old chain is planning to close nearly two thirds of its stores and switch to a wholesale brand with a limited number of freestanding stores as opposed to a retail chain.

It's hard to know exactly what the plans are for the chain which has proved popular with customers for its stylish and well-priced offerings, but has weathered unfavorable comparisons to Burch CEO Chris Burch's former wife's label, Tory Burch, culminating in highly public lawsuit between the companies. Though the legal squabble is now in the past, Buzzfeed claims that the acceleration of C.Wonder's expansion was a result of Mr. Burch's desire to prove that his new chain was more than a less expensive version of his ex-wife's thriving brand, calling it a "revenge retail" project. The article suggests that newer locations of the 32-store chain were chosen in haste and not carefully considered for premium placement in malls. The allegedly overexpanded company is said to be planning to close 20 stores after the Holiday Shopping season and convert to a wholesale model, though the article notes that many potential retailers who already have a strong business relationship with Tory Burch might not be eager to risk offending her and her brand by bringing in C.Wonder under the same roof.

While the specific claims of the article have not been addressed by Burch Creative Capital, WWD offers an official response from a company spokesperson over the weekend which suggests that it may not be off the mark:

"As a start-up business, we continue to look at ways to enhance our business model and in that regard we are committed to being an omni channel company pursuing retail, wholesale, e-commerce and international opportunities. At this time. We are rationalizing our store fleet and will be focusing on our most profitable stores."

What does this translate to? It sounds like some stores will definitely be closing, probably early next year. How many remains in question. But it's worth noting that when the Monika Chiang brand was shut down by Burch last year, the company was cagey about confirming its demise even as its stores were shuttered and its remaining stock was cleared out at deeply discounted sample sales, so it's hard to know what to make of official word from the company. It looks like we will have to watch and see exactly what happens with C.Wonder which just opened its third Manhattan store on Lower Fifth Avenue near the Flatiron Building. The next few months will tell us a lot about C.Wonder's future and what will become of the chain. Stay tuned.

Burch Creative Capital Refutes Reports of C. Wonder Store Closures (WWD)
Exclusive: C. Wonder Is Closing Most Of Its Stores (Buzzfeed)



Nordstrom Is Still Looking For A Second NYC Store

NordstromFlagshipWith a major Midtown flagship on the way in a few years and Rack stores popping up in a few boroughs, WWD tells us today that Nordstrom is still looking for a spot for a second full line store in New York City. And where are they looking?
Big surprise, right?
Speculation centers around several Lower Manhattan sites ranging from spaces on Wall Street to the Howard Hughes Corporation's complete renovation of Pier 17. None of the potential spaces are perfect slam dunks. They will all take some serious negotiations, and Nordstrom, as we have seen from the previous rounds of rumors regarding the store that will eventually open around the corner of Broadway and 57th Street, will kick a lot of tires before they make a final decision. They are extremely picky about location (as they should be) and, in most cases, insist on building their stores from the ground up which will be extremely difficult if not impossible in the landmark-laden financial District. The World Trade Center retail spaces are said to be too small to accommodate the 230 square foot flagship sized store that the Seattle-based chain is looking to construct, even though space might have freed up now that the much rumored talks to sign luxury stores from Tiffany, Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani boutiques are now rumored to have stalled due to their potential proximity to both Century 21 and the upcoming Saks Off-Fifth. Pier 17 would be a dramatic spot that would allow the chain's preferred construction requirements, but it is the site of a previous retail project that was a colossal failure. Saks has taken the largest space in Brookfield Place, and that store is only going to be 85,000 square feet, a little more than a third of the size of the presumed Nordstrom store. That leaves other buildings around the area that may or may not fit Nordstrom's bill. We don't expect the chain to settle on a space anytime soon, but keep in mind that when Nordstrom wants to put a store somewhere, they eventually find a way to do it, so add another great big department store to the list of openings before the end of this decade. That makes one new Barneys, one Neiman Marcus, one new Saks Fifth Avenue and now, two Nordstroms coming to Manhattan.
Five big stores.
Let's just hope people keep spending.

Nordstrom Said Eyeing Downtown NYC (WWD)


Saks Fifth Avenue & Off-5th Both Confirmed For Downtown

Not to be upstaged by the retail game-changing announcement that Neiman Marcus will be coming to Manhattan, Hudson's Bay Company today confirmed the simmering rumors that Saks Fifth Avenue and its outlet offshoot Off-5th would indeed be coming to the Financial District. The luxury unit will be the first out of the gate less than two years from today. The city's second full line Saks store is set to open in Spring of 2016 in 85,000 square feet at Brookfield Place, serving as a valuable, traffic-generating anchor for the luxury mall that is slated to open there next year. While it will be dwarfed by the massive Saks flagship uptown, it will be much closer to the size of a typical Saks branch store, and will certainly be one of the largest retailers in the neighborhood. Next, in 2017, Off-5th will open a 55,000 square foot store at One Liberty Plaza, currently home to a Brooks Brothers branch, safely on the other side of the World Trade Center complex and right across Cortlandt street from what is bound to be its chief competitor in the area, Century 21.

In addition to the two new stores, HBC has also taken 400,000 square feet of office space in Brookfield Place for its New York corporate including space for both Saks Fifth Avenue and the also HBC-owned Lord & Taylor associates who will be relocating from midtown.

With the official announcement of an new Saks Store that makes a total of four major department store openings by the end of the next four years. Saks comes in 2016, Barneys will return to Chelsea in 2017 and both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are scheduled to open in 2018. Over the past few decades, the city has lost more department stores than it has gained staring with the demise of Gimbel's in the late 1980s, and then the closures of Bonwit Teller, B.Altman and A&S in the 90s. The new stores coming could potentially reshape Manhattan's shopping landscape. Let's hope there's as much business to go around as they are counting on.

Saks Confirms Downtown Opening (WWD)
Rumor Confirmed: Neiman Marcus Plans A 2018 Arrival In Manhattan


Is Restoration Hardware Planning A Megastore In The Pastis Building?

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.

Restoration Hardware May Be Coming to Pastis Building, Records Show (DNAinfo)


Rumors Now Have Saks
Heading To The Financial District

BrookfieldNews about stores heading to various locations underconstruction in the Financial Disrtrict is dominating this week's retail news. This time, it's Saks Fifth Avenue that is said to be close to signing a lease to anchor Brookfield Place's upcoming retail complex in what was formerly known as the World Financial Center on the West Side Highway (rendering at right). Though nothing has been confirmed, the rumor is featured in a front page article in WWD, which lends it more credibility than some other publications might be able to offer. The surprise here is that nobody thought there was enough room in the complex to accommodate the full-line Saks store that is expected to be announced. According to WWD, Saks would combine two separate spaces, of 20,000 and 25,000 square feet and possibly add more. If a full-sized Saks branch were to open downtown, it would make it the first major department store with two full locations in Manhattan if it can beat Barneys return to its original Chelsea home which is still a few years off. Bloomingdale's in SoHo, in contrast, is a specialty concept store that presents only select departments from its regular assortments, excluding the home collections and many apparel departments that are typically found in its branch stores.

This rumor is more convincing than some others because the chain's new owner, Hudson's Bay Company, is eager to exploit its new property, and its new president, Marigay McKee has been emphatic about building up Saks' luxury quotient. What better way way to showcase that than with a brand new, high profile store in New York City. That's not all the Saks has planned for the neighborhood, however. It is reportedly planning its first Off 5th outlet store east of Vesey Street that would compete directly with Century 21's recently expanded and upgraded flagship a few blcks across town. While the area has a long history of discount shopping, it is still unproved as the kind of luxury shopping area that is currently being built and aggressively marketed to potential tenants. Though it probably wouldn't be ready to open by next Spring when Brookfield Place's retail complex is expected to open with signed stores like Hermès, Ferragamo and Zegna, a powerhouse anchor like Saks could ultimately attract shoppers in a way that a collection of boutiques cannot, which would go a long way toward establishing the Financial District as a real (as opposed to potential) shopping destination. Expect to hear a lot more about Saks and other proposed arrivals to the area in the coming weeks.

Saks Fifth Avenue Eyeing Downtown Store Location (WWD)


Are Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani &
Tiffany Heading Downtown?

Those "Real Estate Industry Sources" are at it again. A couple of weeks ago such sources had Neiman Marcus about to sign up for a huge flagship store at Hudson Yards that could possibly violate the terms of Bergdorf Goodman's lease (It stipulates that Neiman Marcus never open a store within New York City). Now "sources" have Tiffany & Co., Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani taking prominent storefronts at mall giant Westfield's World Trade Center shopping complex now leasing in the financial district. It would be a coup for the location which has been competing bitterly with rival Brookfield Place in the World Financial Center that is currently boasting upcoming stores from Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo, Zegna, Michael Kors and Paul Smith —who was just announced today.

The question is just how well a true luxury shopping district can be created out of whole cloth where there previously was none? When the original World Financial Center opened about 25 years ago, it was meant to bring big spenders downtown with a satellite Barneys men's store as the main draw, but it fizzled even before the devastation of 9/11. While a smaller enclave of luxury retail has developed near the Stock Exchange anchored by Tiffany and Hermés and focused around jewelry, watches and men's apparel, it remains to be seen if the neighborhood can really support more than that. According to The Real Deal, Tom Ford would take a street-level corner store in 4 World Trade Center (pictured above) while Armani and Tiffany would open in neighboring 3 World Trade Center, all with entrances on Church Street. They would be the first top-level luxury players to join the WTC retail space which would give then high visibility from the throngs of tourists visiting the site. Would that translate into sales, especially for a stratospherically priced label like Tom Ford? Perhaps Armani is considering a less expensive Emporio or even A|X unit for the space. It is all hard to gauge, especially when the original WTC shopping mall was more of a chain-store shopping center with stores like Gap, Borders and Express. Currently, the most biggest retailer in the immediate area is still discounter Century 21, which, though recently expanded and upgraded, is still not on the level of an international luxury brand. A small-scale Brooks Brothers is nearby as well. Nobody from Armani, Tom Ford or Tiffany had any comments for The Real Deal, so, for the moment we are left wondering whether these luxury brands see real opportunity at the World Trade Center or are just kicking tires.

Tom Ford, Tiffany, Armani to take WTC street retail: sources (The Real Deal)


J&R Shuts Down Its Superstore For Redevelopment And Promises To Reopen In 2015

JRremodelAfter a few weeks of rumors that it was shutting down for good, J&R has indeed closed the doors of its multi-level electronics superstore, promising that it would return to its familiar Park Row location when the site had been redeveloped in 2015. Over the past several months, J&R has been systematically vacating the various stores along the street that held its photography, music and housewares stores, and now the main electronics location closes today. What may be raising a few eyebrows is that the retailer has apparently chosen not to open an alternate, temporary location to maintain its business during the redevelopment, though it will continue to sell merchandise through its online store. The six-story building will be reclad in glass, and presumably reopen with the electronics retailer inside. In a letter to customers published on the store website J&R's owners call the proposed remodel (rendering pictured at left) an "unprecedented retailing concept and social mecca", with more details to be announced.

Park Row Redevelopment (J&R Official Site)