NEW YORK — Bloomingdale’s is becoming Downtown and contemporary.

The retailer Thursday announced plans to open a scaled-down department store in SoHo which will have a sharp contemporary bent. Opening on the site of Canal Jeans at 504 Broadway, between Spring and Broome Streets, the new Bloomingdale’s will have six levels and 124,000 square feet, including 90,000 square feet for selling. The store will be about half the size of the typical Bloomingdale’s branch location.

In November 1998, WWD first reported that Bloomingdale’s was considering SoHo for a store with a contemporary edge. Bloomingdale’s SoHo is expected to open next fall, and is believed to be the largest specialty store in SoHo, and the largest specialty store to arrive in the city since Barneys New York opened on Madison Avenue in 1993.

For years, Bloomingdale’s has contemplated expansion within Manhattan. Westside locations had been considered, and there was some thought of expanding the flagship across 59th Street, site of a former Alexander’s, which instead will become a mixed-use facility for retail and office space. Federated also once expressed the possibility of opening a Macy’s in lower Manhattan, though that idea seems highly remote.

In SoHo, sources said, Bloomingdale’s will pay an aggregate rent of $150 million over the life of the lease, at 49 years. Bloomingdale’s will take possession of the site in January, spend months renovating, and then present a version of its uptown offerings, slated toward contemporary apparel and home merchandise, striking a middle ground between Prada and Chanel on the high end and Express and Gap on the more moderate price side.

Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s, said the SoHo unit would sell men’s, women’s, fashion accessories, shoes, cosmetics and a selected assortment of home products. "We are very excited about extending the Bloomingdale’s brand to a second location in New York City," Gould said.

Asked if this could be a new format for future locations, Gould replied, "SoHo is unique. This is not going to be a prototype." However, Gould added, "parts" of what sold downtown could be developed into a more specialized Bloomingdale’s chain. Bloomingdale’s already operates specialized home stores in a few locations around the country, and is planning more. It also has units that specialize in apparel or home in such locations as Newport Beach, Cal. and Chestnut Hill, Mass.Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement, "Bloomingdale’s decision to build a new store in New York City’s SoHo district is great news for shoppers and even better news for New York City," adding, "This new store will certainly be a tremendous asset to the area and will hopefully encourage others to invest in the future of lower Manhattan."

Gould said the SoHo store wouldn’t hit the volume of its 59th Street flagship, which is north of $900 per foot, but would still attain a high productivity. He declined to specify the SoHo’s stores possible sales per square foot.

Bloomingdale’s plans to build a new escalator well, rising from the lower level to the fifth floor along a classic SoHo brick wall. Architects are designing each level to capture the spirit of SoHo, keeping the details of a loft environment with some signature Bloomingdale’s touches, like the black-and-white checkerboard tile floor of cosmetics, which will be on the main level, along with accessories, jewelry and handbags.

The lower level will be exclusively men’s, with segmented shops. Up a flight will be the B’café, and the second and third levels will be merchandised with contemporary designer brands and shoes. The fourth level will be devoted to denim and denim collections and the fifth level will be the Home Studio.

"It took a lot for me to leave, emotionally," said Ira Russack, principal owner of the property and owner of Canal Jeans. He said a going-out-of-business sale, offering 10 percent to 70 percent off, commences today, along with a search to find a new location for a store on 14th Street or below. Russack also said he’s interested in licensing the Canal Jeans name."SoHo became too much like Madison Avenue," Russack said. "It’s not really our customer. We want to go somewhere where people are looking for street fashion." Canal Jeans also has a warehouse at 2236 Nostrand Avenue, in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, where there is a retail store.

Canal Jeans Co., which was first located on Canal Street, has been selling contemporary men’s and women’s clothing and accessories since 1972, and has occupied 504 Broadway since 1982.The owners of 504 Broadway were represented by Robert L. Pressman, executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, and Elliot Resnick, executive vice president of Newmark New Spectrum. Cushman & Wakefield has also been engaged to structure and arrange for the purchase of privately placed mortgage-backed long-term notes supported by the transaction’s cash flow, which is guaranteed by Federated Department Stores Inc.

According to one source, Federated learned about the property on a tennis court at the Connecticut home of Tommy Hilfiger. It was a doubles match a year ago this month. "There were four terrible players: Tommy Hilfiger, Bob Pressman, Terry Lundgren, and Larry Leeds." Lundgren is president of Federated, and Leeds is an investment banker.

According to Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s, the merchandise lineup hasn’t yet determined, but it will be based on offerings already carried at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street, where agreements with vendors can be worked out.

Key contemporary brands sold at Bloomingdale’s include Theory, Rebecca Taylor, Marc By Marc Jacobs, Aqua private label, Necessary Objects, Joie, Juicy Couture, Katayone Adeli, Mint, Helmut Lang Jeans, Seven, Paper Denim & Cloth, Guess, BCBG, Paul & Joe, Anna Sui, Mint, Miguelina, Diesel, Alice & Olivia, Chaiken and D&G.

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