By  on January 25, 2006

NEW YORK — After several failed attempts, Nordstrom Inc. might finally be closer to opening its first Manhattan store.

The high-end retailer is in discussions with The Related Co. to build a department store in Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, said a real estate source close to the companies. Battery Park City, with its cluster of high-rise residential buildings near the World Trade Center site, is a virtual retail desert where the shopping options consist of a DSW and a few assorted specialty stores in the World Financial Center.

The Related Co.'s Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle may seem like a more appropriate destination for the high-end retailer, but the inexpensive real estate available in the financial district, which is experiencing an upscale residential renaissance, may prove even more attractive. While redevelopment of the trade center site has a long way to go, city officials are pushing for a mixed-use venue that includes retail.

Asked about a possible Nordstrom store in lower Manhattan, a spokeswoman said, "We don't have any current plans to build there, and we don't have anything to announce yet in New York."

The Related Co. could not be reached for comment.

Nordstrom has sought locations in several high-end shopping districts in Manhattan, but to no avail. In the late Nineties, the former Alexander's department store on 59th Street, across from Bloomingdale's, was said to be under Nordstrom's gaze. Then there was speculation Nordstrom would take over the Coliseum Books store site at the tourist hub of 57th Street and Broadway, blocks from Central Park. More recently, the retailer considered a below-ground department store nestled under the Nasdaq spire at 4 Times Square, real estate executives said.

It appears that price resistance has kept Nordstrom from closing on any of its real estate options in Manhattan, despite the plum locations, the executives said. Battery Park City may be the ideal cost-effective solution. Though the neighborhood is off the beaten path — and actually set aside from the rest of the financial district by the West Side Highway — the Battery Park City Authority, the local economic development group, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is responsible for the rebuilding of the trade center area, have been working to entice retailers and corporations to the financial district with incentives.Battery Park City, which has almost 10,000 residents in luxury apartment buildings and condominiums, also provides a captive, high-income consumer base untapped by any other department store retailer.

Nordstrom operates 155 stores in 27 states.

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