NY Retail Continues Rebound

The Manhattan retail real estate market is rebounding strongly, with Fifth Avenue once again seeing the healthiest leasing activity and the highest asking rents in the fourth quarter.

According to the latest report from real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, asking rents in lower Fifth Avenue — from 42nd Street to 49th Street — surged 50.2 percent in the period to $865 per square foot.

A distant second was Times Square, where average asking rental rates increased 15 percent to $968 per square foot.

Madison Avenue was third, rising 13.6 percent to $980 per square foot.

Meanwhile, upper Fifth Avenue — spanning 49th to 60th streets — still commands the highest rent in the city, at $2,338 per square foot, and brokers at Cushman said they would not be surprised if it crossed the $3,000 mark next year.

All told, 2011’s year-end leasing activity in the commercial real estate market was at its highest point since 2000. The vacancy rate also dropped to 9.1 percent, from 10.5 percent a year ago.

“2011 has been a strong leasing year, backed by the revival of downtown and the World Trade Center and the record number of large lease transactions around Manhattan, such as Conde Nast’s 1 million-sq.-ft. lease at One World Trade Center,” said Joseph Harbert, Cushman’s COO for the New York metro region.

“Retailers who have leases coming up in the next two years are starting to look at extensions now, which we view as a positive sign,” noted Joanna Podell, EVP at Cushman. “They’re experiencing very strong sales in Manhattan.”

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