By  on January 30, 2006

NEW YORK — Planning for luxury retailing inside The Plaza hotel has begun in earnest.

According to officials on the project, 95,000 square feet have been earmarked over four levels, potential tenants are showing interest and a leasing agent has been hired to help shape and execute the vision.

Other sources said companies that might be interested could include Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Lane Crawford, Holt Renfrew and the Italian Luxury Guild. The Guild is said to have presented a concept that would showcase a variety of Italian designer shops featuring an array of merchandise, categories, foods and wines.

The space could get leased to one retailer or a multitude, according to Robert K. Futterman, who signed a contract last week to be the exclusive leasing agent for The Plaza's retail, ballroom and restaurant components.

The Plaza, owned by Elad Properties, is undergoing a $350 million lobby-to-roof renovation that also provides for 182 luxury residences and a hotel with 282 rooms and suites. It was built in 1907. Elad Properties develops luxury properties in Manhattan and has a portfolio valued at $2.5 billion.

Before closing for renovations, The Plaza had just a handful of boutiques occupying a total of around 20,000 square feet, selling primarily jewelry, lingerie and sundries.

Any retailer moving in goes up against tough competition from Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York and designer brands on Fifth and Madison Avenues and 57th Street. Also, rents will be very high. According to Futterman, rents on Fifth Avenue in the Fifties range from $1,000 to $1,500 a square foot. The Plaza, located on Fifth between 59th and 58th Streets, is expected to reopen in the fall of 2007. He declined to detail rents for the space at this stage.

Futterman said planning the retail offering has just begun but he did provide some details on the layout. There will be 55,000 square feet for retail on the concourse level, 20,000 on the ground mezzanine, 12,000 on the ground floor, 8,000 on the subconcourse level and a 5,000-square-foot spa, he said.

The restaurant space, including the Palm Court, Oak Room and Oak Bar, has close to 10,000 square feet in total. There is also the ballroom, banquet room and the reception area, making up 23,000 square feet in total."One of the ideas is to create a luxury collection," Futterman said. "Imagine shops like in a department store such as Harvey Nichols or Harrods, or like the Wynn in Las Vegas. This will be something completely upscale. There have been many retailers that have contacted us, from department stores to luxury type [specialty] tenants, and I wouldn't say that it's limited to European companies. Our job is to seek out the right mix and fit."

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