When Bio in 2017 opens at 375 West Broadway in SoHo, the 10,000-square-foot space hybrid concept will offer more than shopping. Designed by David Rockwell, Bio will feature 32 “galleries” for online brands, a restaurant, bar and runway stage.
Shoppers will be invited to try on the merchandise, enjoy special programming, get a bite to eat at Jack’s Wife Freda, have a drink at the bar or relax in the lounge area. Buying products? That’s incidental, said Mitchell Hochberg, president of Lightstone, which developed Bio.
“The brands at Bio have a following online. People will come specifically to feel and touch the merchandise,” Hochberg said. “The brands may not be selling. What’s a little bit different is that these e-commerce retailers have already established themselves. They’re looking for another way to show and display their products to their customer base.”
While the brands may be successful online, they don’t yet have the resources to support their own storefronts. “They want something more lasting than a pop-up shop,” Hochberg said. “We thought it would be interesting to create something between a [traditional store] and a new shopping experience. The brands have a physical presence, but don’t have to go through the hassle of renting a place and signing a lease. Bio offers a new framework where brands can animate their own shop displays within a unified design-driven environment.”
Every tenant will receive merchandising support and analytics technology to help them track the development of their businesses. None of the participating brands have yet to be released.
Lightstone, a private real estate company with a $2 billion portfolio, is developing the Moxy hotel chain in partnership with Marriot International.
“We’re looking to do multiple locations in New York and roll out Bio as a business in the U.S.,” said Hochberg. “We anticipate opening other locations. We’re already developing hotels in Los Angeles and Miami and they would be naturals for Bio as would Chicago. We’ve discussed how Bio could work in tandem with the hotels, like Opening Ceremony at the Ace.”
Bio’s concept is similar to a marketplace or collective. What will make Bio successful, where others have failed, is the mix of brands, Hochberg said. “We’re looking for brands that will complement each other,” he explained. “We won’t have 50 percent rtw or 50 percent cosmetics.” Hochberg said Bio is targeting fashion, jewelry, beauty and home e-tailers.
Rockwell designed a loftlike space with columns and modular fixtures and furniture that can easily be moved. There’s lots of natural wood. For example, wood planks are used as steps to the runway bar. Near the Broadway entrance, about 32 flexible carts, crates and trunks will display products. The area can be cleared and used for event space.
Merchandising opportunities abound with hanging shelving for shoes and hats and jackets hang from hooks. A dedicated merchandiser will make sure that the space sends a uniform message: see, touch and possibly buy.