VALENTINO MAY BE EYEING MADISON SITE

Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK--Another Italian appears to be investing more money on Madison Avenue.
Valentino has reportedly signed a lease for a 6,000-square-foot store at 747 Madison Ave. at the corner of 65th Street.
Jud Ebersman, director of retail leasing at Walter & Samuels, confirmed the deal, saying that Valentino plans to do a major renovation of the space and is scheduled to appear before the Landmarks Preservation Commission at its next meeting.
Valentino currently operates a boutique at 823 Madison Ave. The store manager of the boutique said she didn't know whether the current store would remain open and referred calls to Valentino's headquarters in Rome. Officials there could not be reached for comment, but one Madison Avenue broker indicated that she's already shown the 823 space to a new prospective tenant.
Like all of the few available spaces, the one at 747 Madison Ave. has been sought after for some time. According to sources, several other fashion firms were seriously interested in the space, including Next, the British clothing company. Ebersman declined to divulge the value of the long-term lease.
Italian firms have been aggressively seeking space on Madison Avenue for two years. As reported on Monday, Moschino Milan will open an 8,000-square-foot flagship at 803 Madison Ave., between 67th and 68th Streets. Other Italian firms coming to Madison Avenue this year include Prada, Les Copains, Etro and Giorgio Armani. Brokers say the market for Madison Avenue remains hot, so hot, in fact, it has become difficult to accommodate all the retailers seeking space.
"By next year, rents are going to be $400 a square foot," said Ebersman, noting that rents are currently between $150 to $300 a square foot.
"We're running out of space," he added. "There are still people who have to be on Madison Avenue and will find a way to break into the space somehow. You really have to create a way to get space or buy someone out.
"The question is, is there anywhere else to go?" Ebersman added. "When Valentino and Giorgio Armani are on Madison Avenue, do you want to be on Lexington Avenue just to sell clothes? You want to be where you're recognized as one of those leaders." Ebersman said the most sought-after section of Madison Avenue--between 58th and 72nd Streets--may expand to 79th Street.
"The 72nd Street to 79th Street area has always been seen as secondary, despite having stores like Givenchy and Issey Miyake," Ebersman said. "That may all change now."

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