Manhattan Retail Heats Up

The Manhattan retail market is on the move, said Joseph Harbert, Cushman & Wakefield’s COO of the New York metro region on Tuesday.

At a presentation of the brokerage firm’s quarterly real estate outlook, Harbert also said the fashion resurgence has been most notable in the Soho area, where inventory decreased 26 percent in 2011 to an availability rate of about 6 percent now.

Overall, Manhattan retail real estate is building on momentum from 2011, according to Cushman’s latest report.

Among the new up-and-coming corridors are the Flatiron District, which had a first-quarter asking rent of $263 per square foot and a 3.5 percent availability rate; the Meatpacking District, with an asking rent of $300 per square foot and a 16.6 percent availability rate; and lower Manhattan (south of Chambers Street), with an asking rent of $205 per square foot and a 12.2 percent availability rate.

Strongholds such as Madison Avenue saw an increase in asking rents of 26.8 percent to $1,037 per square foot, while lower Fifth Avenue saw asking rents rise 27 percent to $875 per square foot.

Times Square, however, logged the largest year-over-year rent increase, of 160 percent.

The uptick in leasing activity is more than indicative of optimism in the industry, said Joanne Podell, EVP of retail at Cushman.

“It’s beyond that now. Sales volumes [show] there is enough success in the market with these retailers that it really fuels them to expand their existing portfolios,” she told Footwear News. “The issue is that it’s so expensive to lease now that [only] those companies that have the experience of operating in this market are in the better position to make decisions, [rather than new-to-market ones.”

Looking ahead, real estate experts at the event said footwear brands such as Stuart Weitzman are “actively looking” for ideal locations to bow new doors in the city. 

Athletic players including Nike and Puma are also on the hunt for places to house concept stores, after Reebok signed a lease in January for a new concept store co-branded with fitness sensation CrossFit, to be located at 420 Fifth Ave.

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