CALDOR ON THE PROWL FOR MANHATTAN SITE, MAYBE NEAR BRADLEES
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — Will Caldor square off against Bradlees on Union Square, turning the landmark area into a hotbed of discounting?
According to sources, Caldor Corp., the 163-unit regional discounter based in Norwalk, Conn., is considering a major, multi-level store on the southeast corner of 14th Street and Broadway, which would be the chain’s first in Manhattan.
It would open by late 1996 or 1997, sources said, as part of a huge upcoming retail/residential complex.
Kmart is also reportedly keenly interested in the neighborhood, but a Kmart spokeswoman would only say the company is looking at sites “in and around Manhattan,” adding she could not confirm Union Square was among the locations being considered.
As a possible alternative to being right on the Square, sources said, Kmart is considering the vacant John Wanamaker building at 777 Broadway, between 8th and 9th Streets in Greenwich Village.
Kmart has already announced plans to open its first Manhattan store at One Penn Plaza, between 7th and 8th Avenues on 34th Street, by this November.
With Caldor or Kmart close to Bradlees, it will be nothing short of a downtown battle for the discount shopper. It’s a segment that’s been vastly underserved in the city due to the demise of such stores as Alexander’s, Korvettes and Ohrbach’s. Bradlees has certainly found a willing market: The store, opened for only two months, is expected to draw three times the volume of an average Bradlees unit.
“We have no deals for a Manhattan site at this point,” said Gary Vasques, senior vice president of marketing of Caldor, on Friday.
Asked if Caldor was considering the Union Square site, he replied, “I have no statement on that. We are looking at a number of locations [in Manhattan], but there is nothing to announce.”
Jeff Blau, vice president of The Related Cos. L.P., which is developing the site, said a retail tenant should be announced within four weeks, but acknowledged that no deal has been struck yet. He declined to identify which retailers are involved in talks, but noted that discounters, department stores and large specialty or sporting goods stores are included in the group.
Robert Walsh, executive director of the 14th St.-Union Square Local Development Corp., said he didn’t know about Caldor signing a deal, but he added, “If that’s the case, it makes perfect sense. Union Square is becoming like an outdoor urban mall with a park in the middle. People will be cross-shopping. Other major retail stores have come to the Square, and 14th Street is a major transportation hub,” where the IRT and BMT subway lines converge. The area has dense pedestrian traffic drawn from Union Square Park, which has undergone a refurbishing and has a thrice-weekly greenmarket, Zeckendorf Towers, and proximity to New York University. The project site is largely vacant and consists of four lots, owned by Fastenberg & Pirnant, First Sterling, and FGH Realty Corp. Sources said the property owners have agreed to let Related Management develop the site into a huge complex, including 18 stories of apartments, and 200,000 square feet of retail space on the lower four levels, with a major retail anchor, and other smaller stores. One source said the project could have 500,000 square feet of residential space, but Blau said that figure hasn’t been determined yet. “Things are happening fast on Union Square,” observed Thomas Knierim, director of development, 14th Street-Union Square LDC.
Bradlees opened there last November. It’s the chain’s only unit in the city and its low prices and breadth of merchandise have been well-received by New York’s bargain hunters.
Toys ‘R’ Us also opened there last November, on the east side of the Square, and Barnes & Noble is planning a superstore on the north side, between Park Avenue South and Broadway. In addition, Footlocker is planning a unit on the south side, near Bradlees.