Kohl’s Corp. is stepping up its search for its first Manhattan location.

This story first appeared in the December 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“They were in town last week,” said one real estate source familiar with the property search.

The focus seems to be on 1775 Broadway, which is being fully renovated by Moinian Group, the landlord, and is located between 57th and 58th Streets and between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, just south of Columbus Circle. Comp USA was the last big-box retailer on the site.

“The building has a pretty good size footprint. Most of the space is vacant. They could assemble a block of space over 100,000 square feet,” which would consist of three levels at around 33,000 square feet each, the real estate source said. Typical Kohl’s stores contain 80,000 to 90,000 gross square feet.

WWD first reported in August that Kohl’s was scouting Manhattan and Broadway. Crain’s New York and The Real Deal reported last month that 1775 Broadway was the focus.

Officials from the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl’s were in town to check out Manhattan possibilities and also attend the International Council of Shopping Centers convention. No deal has been signed yet, so Kohl’s continues to examine other sites, including 224 West 57th on the southeast corner of 57th and Broadway, the Argonaut Building, which is vacant. Multiple floors could be converted for retail use. Duane Reade was there at one time. But the floor plates there are smaller, at around 14,000 square feet, meaning Kohl’s would require more floors and would be difficult to shop.

“Both locations work. The stores at Time Warner do well. The subways are right there and there are plenty of tourists and office workers in the area,” the source said.

Kohl’s also has eyed Herald Square and Times Square and is anxious to follow on the heels of one of its primary competitors, J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which in July opened its first store in Manhattan on 33rd Street in Herald Square.

Kohl’s does not comment on real estate speculation.

Plenty of retailers have scouted Manhattan only to fail to find a suitable site. Nordstrom Inc. has been eyeing Manhattan locations for years and instead has had to settle for opening a Nordstrom Rack outlet store in the former Virgin Megastore on Union Square. Nordstrom continues to seek a location for a full-line store, however. Target recently opened on 116th Street and the FDR Drive in the East River Plaza, but is said to be interested in opening in more of a fashionable hub.

Kohl’s operates stores in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island as well as on Long Island and in New Jersey, and continues to be among the most aggressive retailers in expanding and snapping up real estate, particularly properties vacated by other retailers.

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