NEW YORK — Hickey Freeman is out and abercrombie is in at 666 Fifth Avenue.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The 4,300-square-foot unit will lose its long-term tenant when Hickey Freeman, a division of bankrupt Hartmarx Corp., vacates its retail crown jewel at the end of this month. This confirms a report WWD first published in March.

Hartmarx, which is looking to raise cash as its debtor-in-possession financing runs dry, sold its lease back to the property’s owners — Crown Acquisitions, The Carlyle Group and Kushner Cos. — for $12 million.

Hickey Freeman declined comment, but it’s likely the brand won’t set up another Manhattan flagship until the fate of its parent company is decided. With three bids on the table, Hartmarx could be sold or liquidated in coming weeks.

The tenant swap allows the owners to “remerchandise” the block.

“We’ve always had our eyes on recapturing the space,” said Haim Chera, principle at Crown Acquisitions. “Hickey wasn’t appealing to the tourist trade, which drives volume on Fifth. They could be on Madison Avenue easily.”

Crown is banking on Abercrombie & Fitch’s kids’ division, abercrombie, to lift the property’s traffic. Reconfigured to 5,400 square feet of selling space, the unit will mark the retailer’s second major outpost on the avenue. Abercrombie & Fitch already operates a flagship for its main brand at 720 Fifth Avenue.

Originally, abercrombie was slated to move into the other space at 666 Fifth Avenue: the glass-walled corner unit formerly occupied by Brooks Brothers. The men’s wear brand had operated a 24,000-square-foot, two-level unit there, and abercrombie had signed a lease for about half of the space. But the Hickey Freeman location offered 13 more feet of frontage and 1,000 square feet of additional selling space. According to sources, abercrombie leased the Hickey unit for $2,500 a square foot. The abercrombie store will mark the subbrand’s first unit in Manhattan.

That leaves the former Brooks Bros. space vacant. Chera said the owners are fielding queries from a number of “major global brands” interested in the space.