By  on April 16, 2007

NEW YORK — Retail development is heating up around Bloomingdale's Manhattan flagship.

Spurred by the opening in 2005 of the 54-story Bloomberg Tower, which houses the headquarters of Bloomberg L.P., the media and financial services company, multimillion-dollar condos, restaurants and retail space, the 59th Street neighborhood has lured fashion, footwear and furniture chains. And more retailers are on the way, pushing out smaller, independent merchants.

The streets just north and south of East 59th Street, along Lexington and Third Avenues, are capturing the mass character of 34th Street/Herald Square, but with some higher price points, too.

"It's a neighborhood emerging at all levels of fashion, from accessible to designer," said Matt Rubel, chairman and chief executive officer of Payless ShoeSource, which this summer is to open a 3,000-square-foot store at 716 Lexington Avenue, between 57th and 58th Streets. "It's attracting the New York consumer as well as tourists."

Rubel described the new Payless unit as a flagship for Manhattan's Upper East Side and one of the chain's new "fashion lab" formats. It will feature clearly defined sections for women's, men's, children's and athletic footwear, as well as self-select environments spotlighting seasonal trends and product themes with easy-to-reach shoe boxes below.

A Steve Madden store is coming to the southwest corner of 58th Street and Lexington, next door to Payless, and a 30,000-square-foot furniture store — there is speculation it could be Ethan Allen — might be moving onto the northwest corner of 60th Street and Third Avenue.

"The neighborhood is definitely all coming together," said Joanne Podell, senior director of retail brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm.

Mario Moretti Polegato, founder and ceo of Geox, the innovative Italian footwear and apparel retailer and wholesaler, said the company looked for space in the area for a long time until finding the right spot about a year ago — an 1,100-square-foot unit in Bloomberg Tower. There also is a 6,000-square-foot Geox at Madison Avenue and 57th Street, considered a flagship.

Polegato said there is enough customer traffic for the two units to coexist. "The Lexington store has no less of an impact," he said. "It features very large windows overlooking the strong technological design of the shop. The store has a very minimalist design in line with the Geox Shop concept.''

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