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Nike Town Flagship Site Hoped For by End of Year

NEW YORK -- Nike Inc. wants to find a 50,000-square-foot site for a Nike Town flagship on Madison or Fifth Avenue by the end of this year.<BR><BR>"If there's an incredible location that opens up that is a little smaller or larger than we had hoped...

NEW YORK — Nike Inc. wants to find a 50,000-square-foot site for a Nike Town flagship on Madison or Fifth Avenue by the end of this year.

“If there’s an incredible location that opens up that is a little smaller or larger than we had hoped for, we’ll alter the plan,” said Cathy Taylor, executive vice president of Cole-Haan, the Nike subsidiary overseeing the search for the site. “If we run into 1995, so be it.”

One of the sites Nike is ogling is Galeries Lafayette in Trump Tower. Reports about Galeries and Nike were sparked by a New York magazine release Thursday, highlighting an item in the Intelligencer column about the companies in the March 14 issue.

Paul McGuire, Nike’s director of retail development, said Friday, “I know for a fact that at least three spots are being considered for a Nike Town in New York, and Galeries Lafayette is one of them.” He said Nike first checked out the building a year ago.

Galeries, however, insists it has no plans to move out.

In Paris on Friday, Francois Xavier, general secretary of Galeries Lafayette, said he would be “stupified” by the prospect of Galeries moving out and denied the company was turning over the site to Nike. Galeries has not been profitable in New York and may eventually move out, but apparently not soon. Last June, Georges Meyer, Galeries chairman, said he will give the store several more years to turn around before making any decision to sell or close the unit. Galeries could also sublease the site with the permission of Donald Trump.

“Galeries Lafayette is a fine tenant who has a lease on the premises, and I am very happy with them,” said Trump on Friday. He would not comment on the Nike rumor. However, real-estate sources agreed that Galeries, which opened in the Trump Tower in September 1991, wants to make a go of it. They said if Nike wanted the site, it would require a long wait.

McGuire said Nike has been looking for a site in Manhattan for the past three years. “We’re not down the road on anything — meaning we haven’t committed to any location.”

Sources said the IBM Gallery, on Madison Avenue and 57th Street, and 650 Madison Ave., near 59th Street, are among the sites Nike is considering. Nike approached the Bergdorf Goodman Men’s store, but was rebuffed, as reported.