By  on April 14, 2008

NEW YORK — For more than a decade, Third Avenue, between 64th and 79th Streets, has been a bastion of independent specialty retailers. Now, national chains are discovering it and rents are rising sharply.

More than 30 boutiques such as Big Drop, Diabless, Cantaloupe and Precision cater to the affluent neighborhood's various constituencies, which include girls from the Nightingale-Bamford, Sacred Heart and Spence schools. During the week, they are in uniforms of tartan pleated skirts and polo shirts and on weekends they switch to Rachel Pally tops and designer jeans. There are mothers who wear Paige Premium denim and Ella Moss tops to drop kids off at school, and working women who favor Robert Rodriguez, Diane von Furstenberg and Theory for the office.

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