SPORTS AUTHORITY BOUND FOR NY’S UNION SQUARE
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — The Union Square retail scene is heating up and Sports Authority wants in.
The 107-unit sporting goods chain plans to open a 47,000-square-foot store on the southeast side of 14th Street and Broadway in early 1996, Jack Smith, chairman and chief executive officer, told WWD Tuesday.
It could be part of a large retail/residential complex on the site, which is in the planning stages, and, as noted Tuesday, is also reportedly being eyed by Caldor and Kmart. Smith said he expects to finalize a deal before April with The Related Cos. L.P., developer of the site. Jeff Blau, vice president for The Related Cos., said no deal with Sports Authority has been signed yet, and that it’s one of several potential tenants involved in talks. He declined to name any others.
Since the project is expected to include about 200,000 square feet of retail space, there’s room enough for a Sports Authority and a large discounter, such as Caldor or Kmart.
As reported, Related has been given the green light by property owners to develop the site into a huge complex, including 18 stories of apartments and four levels designated for retailing.
The area could shape up into a hotbed of discounting, considering Bradlees opened last November a 143,000-square-foot store in the former Mays Department Store on 14th Street, between Broadway and University Place, and other discounters are on the prowl for nearby sites.
It’s already become a warring ground for sporting goods and activewear retailers, with Paragon Sporting Goods located at 867 Broadway at East 18th, Herman’s World of Sporting Goods at 860 Broadway at East 17th Street and NordicTrack Factory Direct at 202 Park Avenue South between East 17th and Broadway.
In addition, Foot Locker is planning to open a unit this year on the same block as Bradlees.
Sports Authority, a division of Kmart, is based in Ft. Lauderdale and has 15 stores in the tri-state area. The chain currently has one store in Manhattan, in the Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street.
Smith said the Union Square store would be one of the firm’s top three in profits.
“We’re dedicated to the New York market. We’re all around the metro area,” he said. “Union Square is a very good shopping area based on who is there and who is going there. Toys ‘R’ Us is there and Caldor is considering it. It’s a well-populated corner.”
Sports Authority ultimately wants 40 stores in the tri-state area, Smith said.
Asked about the area’s competition, Smith replied, “We’re not inhibited by Herman’s or Paragon. We don’t know the meaning of ‘inhibited.”‘
Sporting goods and men’s and women’s athletic apparel will be sold in the Union Square store, Smith said.
“We pride ourselves in taking the best real estate,” he said.
Smith declined to comment on the company’s annual volume for 1994. Volume in 1993 was $607 million, and $200 million more than the previous year’s, he said.