The Victoria’s Secret and Pink store at 1328 Broadway in Manhattan is situated at the intersections of Broadway, Sixth Avenue and 34th Street in the building at 2 Herald Square, a 362,191-square-foot property owned by SL Green Realty Corp., one of New York’s largest landlords.
Millions of people pass through Midtown Manhattan’s Herald Square each year, a popular tourist and shopping destination, which also houses retail giants Macy’s, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Ulta Beauty and American Eagle, among others.
But the lingerie retailer’s store has been closed since March 17, when it shuttered all stores in North America to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. L Brands has previously said it did not pay April rent.
Now it is asking a New York judge to break the Herald Square lease and dismiss any requests for rent after March 22, the date New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order pausing New York City nonessential businesses. (Most recently, Cuomo has extended the executive order on New York City until June 13.)
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Cuomo’s ‘New York State on pause’ executive order (and related executive orders), the lease and guaranty are no longer enforceable under the frustration of purpose doctrine, as well as other common law doctrines and provisions of the lease and guaranty,” the suit reads.
L Brands is also asking for compensation for damages and legal fees, to be determined at trial.
According to the complaint, the original lease was signed on Aug. 22, 2001. SL Green could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, L Brands said it was permanently closing about 250 Victoria’s Secret stores in North America in 2020 and would likely close more the following year.
L Brands declined to comment on whether the Herald Square store was one of those stores set to close.
The retailer has 1,091 Victoria’s Secret stores in North America and 90 stores internationally. As of May 21, 66 Bath & Body Works locations were open across eight states, two located in malls. The company said the remainder of the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works store fleet is expected to open by the end of July with enhanced safety precautions.