NEW YORK — Times Square is poised for another transformation with 240,000 square feet of prominent real estate on 42nd Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue set to be redeveloped and reoriented toward fashion — the fast variety.
E Walk 2.0, as the project is being called, features 400 square feet of prime retail frontage. Tishman Development Corp. in 1999 launched the original E Walk, which reimagined the seedy stretch of peep shows and bodegas as a family-friendly retail and entertainment destination as part of the city’s New Times Square initiative.
“This was built 20 years ago,” said Patrick Smith, vice chairman, retail brokerage at JLL, which is leasing E Walk 2.0. “We’re talking to all existing tenants about either renewing their leases and right-sizing or redevelopment. We have two anchor spaces, a 30,000- to 50,000-square-foot unit on the west side of the project on Eighth Avenue, and 30,000 square feet on the eastern side. They are specifically for fast fashion.”
Tenants now occupying the retail space operated by Tishman Realty include Starbucks, Cold Stone Creamery, B.B. King Blues Club and Regal Cinemas.
“Times Square will never change 100 percent from what it is — a multigenerational entertainment corridor,” Smith said. “Entertainment and big, loud signage are a component. It will now have more traditional retail, international fast fashion, cosmetics, value apparel and shoes.”
Times Square has proven to be fertile ground for fast-fashion retailers H&M and Forever 21, which rely on the heavy foot traffic. In addition to commuters, the neighborhood, with Broadway theaters, is a tourist magnet. E Walk tenants will have their names in marquee lights. “We’re offering a signage package at no additional cost for the anchors so that they can brand their presence.”
JLL’s pedestrian count logged more than 132,000 people walking past the site daily. E Walk 2.0 is flanked by New York’s busiest subway hub and the Port Authority, which together serve 131 million commuters annually.
“We’re engaged with multiple international fast fashion brands,” said Erin Grace, managing director, retail brokerage at JLL, referring to the anchor spaces. “There are many European and Asian fast-fashion brands that haven’t yet established a presence in the U.S. A couple of large-format Asian retailers are looking in Times Square and on Fifth Avenue.”
“We haven’t by any means chosen horses yet,” she added. “When we get the right tenants, we’ll add beauty, accessories, footwear and smaller apparel brands that would complement the fast-fashion anchors.”
Ground-floor asking rent for E Walk is reportedly $800 a square foot, about one-third less than prices in the Times Square corridor. Smith explained that “fast-fashion tenants will take a small presence on the ground floor and go up to large blocks of space on the second, third and fourth floors. There’s a big lower level as well.”
Yet, while existing tenants may be paying higher rents, prices in the Times Square district declined 9 percent year-over-year, the Real Estate Board of New York reported in November. Experts said supply is exceeding demand in many neighborhoods and asking rents are going through a correction.
Smith said the neighborhood will continue to improve. “There’s a plan to redevelop a large portion of Port Authority,” he said. “It’s a chip shot from Hudson Yards. This market is changing very rapidly. Eighth Avenue used to be the end of the corridor. Now it extends to Eleventh Avenue.”
“This project is significant in its size and scale,” added Grace. “With 240,000 square feet, we can literally merchandise it like a multitenant retail development in Anytown USA.”