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Subway Stations Gain Steam as Retail Destinations

A new Metropolitan Transit Authority program hopes to bring new tenants to the underground.

Subway stations are gaining steam as destinations for better retailing, not just newsstands.

As part of a new Metropolitan Transit Authority program to bring new tenants to the underground, elevate the ambience and increase revenues, within the last few weeks, Uniqlo opened a pop-up shop in Manhattan’s Union Square station and L’Oréal installed high-tech vending machines at the Bryant Park station.

And this month, the MTA announced Shop//Stop, an upcoming marketplace at the Columbus Circle subway concourse, under Eighth Avenue from 57th to 58th Street. The MTA is teaming with Oases RE, a development company, on the project, which would be situated before the turnstiles so you can shop without swiping a MetroCard to get in. Columbus Circle is considered the fourth busiest station in the system.

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“The marketplace is part of a subway concourse, however, we feel people from all over will visit by if they are not taking the trains,” said Lisa Rosenthal, managing director at Lansco, which is the leasing agent for Oases RE. “We are planning on having an area available to retailers to introduce new concepts — as Uniqlo is doing in Union Square and L’Oréal is doing at the Bryant Park subway station.”

The shops will range in size from 200 to 700 square feet, with a total of 13,000 square feet. “We expect we will have lot of grab-and-go food in the best in category,” Rosenthal said, citing coffee, yogurt, cupcakes, sushi, spices and nuts as among the possibilities. “It will all be packaged. We are not making it so you can eat in the subway. It’s more so you can eat in the office or at home or in Central Park. Think of it as an underground food market,” inspired to a degree by the market in Grand Central Terminal. “It’s going to have a cohesive design,” Rosenthal said. “It’s going to be fun.”