NEW YORK — Equity One Inc., the owner, developer and operator of shopping centers, said on Monday that it has acquired a fee interest in a retail condominium at 161 West 16th Street here for $55 million. The property, which is unencumbered, consists of 56,870 square feet of space, almost an entire block of frontage on the east side of Seventh Avenue between West 16th and West 17th Streets. Loehmann’s now occupies the entire space; however, the retail space will forever be remembered as the former flagship of Barneys New York.

This story first appeared in the May 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Pressman family that founded Barneys has a long history with the building. When Barney Pressman founded the store in 1923, it was as a 200-foot hole in the wall on Seventh Avenue. Barneys decamped for Madison Avenue in 1993, and Loehmann’s moved into the building in 1996.

“This retail condo has the unusual bones of a true New York City department store,” said Peter Ripka, a partner at Ripco Real Estate Corp. and broker on the sale “That’s how Loehmann’s currently uses it and, perhaps even more intriguing, that’s how Barneys used it in its day. [The Pressmans] created a 55,000-square-foot block of space that allows for a very nice shopping experience. Even the escalators are in the right place. It’s always very busy as Loehmann’s, and it is a legendary location for Barneys. I see it as a great growth vehicle for the higher-end department stores that are operating today.”

Jeff Olson, chief executive officer of Equity One, pointed out that the property is surrounded by nearby destinations such as the High Line, Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. Google’s $2 million purchase of its New York headquarters, one block west of the acquisition, also bodes well for the area.

“This transaction is consistent with our strategy of acquiring irreplaceable urban retail locations with below-market leases that allow for future growth,” Olson said. “We believe there is enormous potential for this site.”

Equity One, a real estate investment trust located in Miami, has 201 properties in its portfolio, encompassing about 20.8 million square feet of gross leasable area. Equity One is building the Gallery at Westbury Plaza, a 330,000-square-foot open-air shopping center located off Old Country Road in Westbury, N.Y. Nordstrom Rack will be one of the tenants.

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