MAIDEN LANE GETS CROWDED
Byline: Kristin Young
LOS ANGELES — Maiden Lane, the narrow pedestrian street located just off San Francisco’s Union Square, is poised to become a chic luxury retail enclave.
Several fashion houses have confirmed inking leases for shops on the European-like two-block strip located between Stockton and Kearny Streets.
Yves Saint Laurent penned an agreement to open a 5,000-square-foot unit at 170 Maiden Lane, a space that’s been vacant for at least five years. This third YSL opening on the West Coast, after locations in Las Vegas and Costa Mesa, Calif., is planned for December.
Hermes said it will relocate to a 4,000-square-foot flagship at 125 Grant Street on the corner of Maiden Lane to open late fall 2002 from its 2,000-square-foot store at 212 Stockton Street. The move is said to be necessitated to accommodate the French firm’s 14 product categories.
“[Maiden Lane] is really quite charming,” a company spokeswoman said. “We really loved the whole idea of the small street.”
Los Angeles-based Chrome Hearts said it will open its third U.S. store in the area by year’s end. Richard Stark, owner of the upscale maker, said he was attracted to the 3,500-square-foot space at 55 Maiden Lane.
In addition, a Martha Stewart-owned bridal boutique called The Wedding List has signed a lease for a 5,000-square-foot store at 120 Maiden Lane. The opening date is spring 2002 for the chain’s fourth door, following locations in London, New York and Boston.
The new stores are in good company. About nine months ago, Marc Jacobs and Wolford opened shops, joining the ranks of Jil Sander, Chanel, Tse Cashmere, Mont Blanc and Cristofle.
“There is a renaissance of sorts taking place on Maiden Lane,” said Linda Mjellem, executive director of the Union Square Association, a business group with 215 members in the 32-block Union Square area.
Mjellem credited Angelo Sangiacomo, owner of Trinity Properties, with the influx of luxury retailers.
“Sangiacomo owns a number of significant pieces of property on the street and he has brought us the luxury component,” she said.
Sangiacomo could not be reached for comment.
Union Square real estate reportedly ranks among the top 10 most expensive in the world, according to one study. Average rents range from $250 to $400 a square foot. Some retailers have been known to pay up to $750 a square foot.
But the pricey properties and a sagging economy aren’t stopping the big names. Fendi, Helmut Lang and Miu Miu have all been bandied about as possible new tenants on the lane. The Prada Group divisions conceded they are looking for properties there, but said no leases have been signed.
Meanwhile, the nearby grassy Union Square is currently undergoing a renovation that will lead pedestrians to Maiden Lane.
By next summer, a grand opening celebration will induce several improvements, including a set of stairs cascading off the main plaza to the tony street.