By  on November 9, 2010

NEW YORK — The NBA Store on Fifth Avenue plans to close in late February, a victim of rising rents.

The building that houses the store, at 666 Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street, was sold in 2007 for $1.8 billion, the largest single-building sale in the city’s history. Of the 85,000 square feet of retail space in the building, the NBA Store occupies 35,000, with 16,000 used for selling. Other tenants — Brooks Brothers and Hickey Freeman — departed in 2009. Real estate experts said retail space at 666 Fifth Avenue and buildings in its vicinity command some of the highest retail rents in the city. According to Jeffrey D. Roseman, executive vice president and principal of Newmark Knight Frank Retail, ground floor rents on Fifth Avenue start around $2,000 per square foot. According to experts, rents along Fifth Avenue between 49th Street and 59th Street rose 15 percent since the spring. The space the NBA store inhabits is expected to be priced around $2,200 a square foot, sources said.

Uniqlo is taking over Brooks Brothers’ 90,000-square-foot space. The Japanese retailer set a record when it agreed to pay $300 million in rent over 15 years. A Hollister Epic flagship is also slated to open in 20,000 square feet of the former Hickey Freeman space.

The NBA Store opened in 1998. “It does not make economic sense for us to remain in the current location given the increased rent,” said Linda Choong, senior vice president of global retail development at NBA. “We are actively pursuing a new location in New York City. We are also considering a temporary store location during the build-out process.”

Asked whether the new store will be similar in size to the Fifth Avenue flagship, Choong said, “We have not determined where the new space will be yet, but our goal is to continue to offer our fans a unique shopping experience. The new store will continue to have the largest selection of NBA merchandise.”

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