The saga of where Toys "R" Us and FAO Schwarz will ultimately plant their flagship stores appears to have been concluded as The Commercial Observer reports that both stores —which are jointly owned— will move into the historic, about-to-change-hands Brill Building (pictured at right) on the corner of Broadway and 49th Street for a combined store. The companies are reportedly in negotiations with the landmark building's future owners for all or part of the 50,000 square feet of retail space that will be available when renovations are finished.
New Yorkers with fond memories of FAO Schwarz's Fifth Avenue toy palace may be disappointed to learn that its new home would be combined with the more pedestrian Toys "R" Us chain, robbing it of its exclusive veneer, and that is reportedly what scuttled the deal for a new store a block up the street at 1633 Broadway. That building's owners were apparently happy to have FAO Schwarz planted in front of its tower, however they balked at having the more Toys "R" Us mass market brand sharing what they were marketing as a prestige space. The Brill Building, for its part, is best known as the center of the pop music industry during the mid-20th Century, housing legendary songwriters like Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Phil Spector, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller to name just a handful of the hitmakers who called it their professional home. It was still home to the beloved Colony Records music store until 2012 when the last vestige of the ornate Art Deco building's legendary past finally succumbed to closure.
Of course, nobody involved is confirming any news of a new combined toy store flagship yet, and the deal wouldn't be finalized until after the Brill Building's new owners close on their acquisition near the end of this year. A new store opening is still fairly far off, but this looks like the deal that may bring FAO Schwarz back in operating form in Manhattan, if not exactly in the form its nostalgic fans might be hoping for.
FAO Schwarz and Toys “R” Us Looking to Open Combo Store at Brill Building (Commercial Observer)