Bleecker Street is in demand.

Bleecker Street's evolution from a quaint strip in lower Manhattan lined with antique stores and pastry shops to international fashion thoroughfare is picking up steam.

NEW YORK — Bleecker Street’s evolution from a quaint strip in lower Manhattan lined with antique stores and pastry shops to international fashion thoroughfare is picking up steam.

Luxury tenants are on the rise, along with rents. Marc Jacobs is said to have signed a lease on Friday for a 600-square-foot store at 382 Bleecker Street, where the rent is an estimated $500 a square foot.

Sources said the space might be devoted to Jacob’s home collection or Little Marc children’s wear. Another option would be for the designer to move Marc by Marc Jacobs men’s wear from the location it shares with women’s wear, at 403-405 Bleecker Street, to the new store, allowing women’s to gain more space.

A Marc Jacobs spokeswoman had no information about the new store.

Jacobs pioneered Bleecker Street for the luxury set in 2000. The new unit would be his third storefront on the street. Collection accessories and shoes are sold at 385 Bleecker. The shop at 403-405 Bleecker sells Marc by Marc Jacobs accessories and shoes as well as the women’s and men’s wear.

In addition to Marc Jacobs, Tod’s and Lancôme are among the firms said to be shopping for space on Bleecker.

“I see Bleecker Street as an alternative to Madison Avenue,” said Joel Isaacs, who has brokered five deals in the last two years on Bleecker Street. “It’s got a great deal of momentum and a great deal of buzz.”

Ralph Lauren helped colonize Bleecker Street with a trio of stores. Then came tenants such as Ruehl, a division of Abercrombie & Fitch; Reiss, a British fashion chain; Mulberry, a U.K. leather goods firm, and Brunello Cucinelli, a purveyor of cashmere that would be equally at home on Madison Avenue.

“I’m concerned that the prices are getting so ridiculously high,” said a real estate broker who asked not to be identified.

Homegrown concepts such as Olive & Bette’s and Cynthia Rowley are now outnumbered by national and international retailers.

“Bleecker Street is on the map as a location for international fashion,” said Lisa Rosenthal, a broker at Ripco. “Brands see it as a street you need to be on in order enhance your brand image.”

This story first appeared in the January 29, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

However, there is little available space, especially on what is considered the prime block of Bleecker Street, between Hudson and Charles Streets. The high rents are a function of “supply and demand, pure and simple,” Isaacs said. “And you’re talking about spaces that are often only between 500 square feet and 1,000 square feet.”

But fashion tenants could begin populating Bleecker Street farther east. “There’s potential for Bleecker Street to fill in with fashion tenants all the way to Seventh Avenue,” Isaacs said.

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