GUCCI TO USE ORIGINAL BENDEL SITE WHILE ITS FLAGSHIP IS REVAMPED

Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — As the home of Henri Bendel from the Sixties through the mid-Eighties, 10 West 57th Street was one of New York’s tonier retail addresses. After Bendel’s moved to Fifth Avenue, the site remained retail and is now occupied by an Express store. Next April, it will revert back to high-end selling.
That’s when Gucci will begin at least a two-year tenancy in the 30,000-square-foot, three-level store while its Fifth Avenue flagship undergoes a major renovation that will keep it closed for more than a year.
“We signed a lease for a temporary location while we renovate our New York store,” said Arthur Leshin, chief financial officer of Gucci. “Our plans are out with our architect.”
The renovation of the Fifth Avenue flagship should be completed in July 2000, with the opening slated for the following month, a Gucci spokeswoman said.
The flagship, at 685 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 54th Street, is 29,000 square feet, almost the same size as the 57th Street store.
Unlike some temporary stores, which have bare-bones interiors, Gucci’s 57th Street location — which will operate from at least April 1999 to the summer of 2000 — will look like the real thing.
“It’s going to look like a Gucci store,” the spokeswoman said. “It’s going to be clean and simple and follow the Gucci image.”
Gucci executives downplayed the idea that the 57th Street store could become permanent, but industry sources said the company has an option to remain in the property after its lease expires.
“It’s a temporary lease right now, and what happens at the end of the lease, right now we don’t know,” Gucci’s Leshin said.
“They are growing so quickly,” said one retail analyst. “We know [Gucci designer] Tom Ford is working on an extensive home furnishings line. Bits and pieces are out already.”
Steven Pressler of Promenade Realty, the agent for 10 West 57th Street, could not immediately be reached for comment. Steven B. Greenberg, president of The Greenberg Group — Gucci’s real estate adviser in New York — declined to comment on the specifics of the lease.
“What Gucci is going to do with the building is bring back the glamour and specialness of the Henri Bendel era,” he said. “It’s an extremely special retail facility.”
Gucci has been renovating its key flagships around the world.
In January, the company unveiled its new London flagship, a spacious and open design concept that has become the model for other openings and refurbishings.
Other locations to be redone include those in Milan, Paris, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Dallas and Bal Harbour, Fla.
The Beverly Hills flagship, at 347 North Rodeo Drive, is currently being renovated, expanding from 10,000 to 21,000 square feet. It is scheduled to reopen in January.
“The idea is modern luxury, minimal in lines but not in materials,” Ford said. “We don’t want people to feel cold and bare. This is our esthetic.”
The new store concept, developed by Ford with New York architect Bill Sofield, uses Indiana limestone and polished stainless steel to create sculptural areas for accessories, shoes and clothing. Throughout the store, the company’s signature G logo will appear on banister fittings, fixtures and lighting, with bronze, rosewood and Lucite accents.

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