Northern California's Bay Area is getting another shot of luxury, courtesy of Neiman Marcus.
Neiman's will open a 110,000-square-foot, full-line store in the East Bay town of Walnut Creek in late 2010 or early 2011. The store will be built in the Broadway Plaza mall, joining anchors Nordstrom and Macy's in the 697,000-square-foot downtown outdoor lifestyle center.
The only Neiman Marcus in the area is the 250,000-square-foot freestanding store in San Francisco's Union Square.
"Walnut Creek has always been very high on our list because its demographic is very compatible with our customer and this location has a high visibility in the market," said Wayne Hussey, senior vice president of properties for Neiman Marcus. "The East Bay and San Francisco are two totally different markets and we felt there was a void there."
The addition of Neiman's will only slightly increase the mall's total square footage because some existing buildings will be taken down when leases end and the mall refines its retail mix.
"Neiman Marcus takes Broadway Plaza to the next level, and global luxury retailers will be much more interested in the area once it comes in," said Randy Brant, executive vice president of Macerich, which co-owns the mall with Northwestern Mutual Life.
San Francisco's East Bay area, considered a less-moneyed suburb than those on the other side of Bay Bridge (such as Marin County), has a substantial demographic of luxury customers, many of whom find more value in the housing market.
Broadway Plaza houses 78 retailers and restaurants, including Swarovski and Coach, but the majority of tenants are midtier, such as Gap, Bebe, Lacoste, Cole Haan and J. Crew. Macerich has reported that the center's occupancy rate is 97.8 percent, with average sales of $768 a square foot.
"The arrival of Neiman's elevates the mall, signals high-end luxury and signals that the marketplace has the demographic to support it," said retail consultant Dana Telsey. "They select stores carefully and these deals are made for the long term."
Neiman Marcus has 39 full-line stores. Along with Walnut Creek, six more are opening between fall 2008 and 2011, including a 120,000-square-foot store in the San Fernando Valley's Topanga Plaza in September and the northwest Seattle suburb of Bellevue in 2009, as well as Sarasota, Fla., and Princeton, N.J., in 2010.
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