Retail Rents Rise for Prime NYC Locales

Times Square on Broadway and Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets had the biggest increase in asking rent since the fall, a 55 percent leap to $2,175.

The best Manhattan shopping corridors continue to thrive.

This story first appeared in the May 8, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Ground-floor asking rents on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 59th Streets have risen to $3,052 since the fall, a 13 percent increase, according to a study by the Real Estate Board of New York. However, no leases have been signed there since fall of 2012, the study pointed out. As reported in WWD Tuesday, Valentino will open at 693 Fifth Avenue, formerly occupied by Takashimaya, but that deal could have happened after the study was completed.

Are landlords being greedy and will they have to lower asking rents? “When rents seemed very high, landlords have found tenants willing to pay those prices,” said Mike Slattery, senior vice president of research at REBNY, adding that retailers believe they can be profitable. Retailers considering large sites for flagships may also take longer to make a decision and landlords have been willing to wait.

Times Square on Broadway and Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets had the biggest increase in asking rent since the fall, a 55 percent leap to $2,175, due to the limited supply of available square footage.

REBNY’s report of the city’s highest-profile shopping corridors for the last six months revealed increasing foot traffic and booming tourism — 52 million visitors last year. Those positive trends, along with the improving job market, contributed to higher asking rents.

The growing tech sector created demand downtown, while upscale residential development in Midtown brought calls for better shopping options.

Retailers have been pushing the boundaries of prime retail streets in an attempt to find more affordable real estate. There, too, rents continued to rise due to the dearth of space and the high cost of prime corridors.

Asking rents on Fifth Avenue south of 49th Street rose 7 percent to $1,092. Broadway in the Flatiron District climbed 18 percent to $322, and Bleecker Street between Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street rose to $540, also an 18 percent increase.

“We’re seeing retailers being more amenable to locations,” Slattery said. “Those moves always entail a certain amount of risk, but they’re prudent risks. They feel their presence will be part of the [street’s] transformation.

“It will be interesting to see whether or not Fifth Avenue between 34th and 42nd Streets will have that kind of change,” Slattery said. “There’s a push to continue to find space. If 42nd Street is a dividing line, then maybe being south of 42nd Street isn’t so bad either.”

In terms of prime streets, asking rents for available ground-floor space on Madison Avenue between 57th and 72nd Streets increased 36 percent to $1,325, since the fall. Fifth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets in the Flatiron District saw asking rents climb 18 percent to $413 since the fall. In the Meatpacking District, asking rents grew 10 percent, to $356. Broadway between Houston and Broome Streets in SoHo jumped 38 percent to $750, while Broadway between Battery Park and Chambers Street shot up 52 percent to $232, perhaps in anticipation of the throngs of tourists who will visit once all the construction is completed.