The rumors that Saks Fifth Avenue has designs on the Financial District took on a lot more credibility today as The Wall Street Journal reports of a comprehensive plan to bring not only a full line Saks store but also an Off Fifth outlet unit and headquarters for all of corporate parent Hudson's Bay Co. U.S. operations to the neighborhood. The Journal notes that negotiations are ongoing and could still fall apart, but the landlord in all cases would be Brookfield Office Properties Inc., and the proposed Saks Fifth Avenue store would be, as previously reported, placed at the Brookfield Place luxury retail complex at what was previously known as the World Financial Center. The Off Fifth would take over the Brooks Brothers store at One Liberty Plaza which Brookfield also controls. The office space for Saks, Saks Off Fifth, Hudson's Bay and Lord & Taylor would comprise collectively a whopping 400,000 square feet, making this a substantial real estate deal by anyone's standards.
What would this mean for downtown shopping? For the new luxury shopping district downtown that is being created where there was never one before, a full line Saks would serve as strong anchor that would benefit all the designer boutiques expected to open not only in Brookfield Place, but also nearby in the new World Trade Center towers. It would also likely be the only instance of both a Full Saks and a Saks Off Fifth being separated by only a few city blocks. Typically, retailers like to keep a healthy distance between their main stores and their more downscale outlet divisions, but the compact nature Manhattan's cityscape makes that less of an issue. At One Liberty Plaza, Off Fifth would compete directly with the newly expanded Century 21 flagship which is arguably the city's top off-price fashion retailer. The Journal reports that all parties would like to close the deal before the end of the Summer, so some sort of confirmation one way or another should be coming in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
Saks Looks to Expand Downtown (Wall Street Journal)
Rumors Now Have Saks Heading To The Financial District