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SoHo is Back

New Bloomingdale’s has revived the New York neighborhood, leading to flurry of new retail activity — and rising retail rents



According to a report in The New York Times, the SoHo neighborhood of New York is basking in an environment of rising residential property values, tourism and shopping. And that, in turn, has pushed up retail rents in that area and, in fact, in most parts of Manhattan.

“Last year was the best for retail real estate since 1999,” Faith H. Consolo, vice chairwoman of Garrick-Aug (New York), a brokerage firm specializing in retail spaces, told The Times. “2001, 2002 and 2003 were a struggle; there were fewer deals and the transactions took longer. But the first quarter of 2004 got off to a jump start and never slowed down.”

One big event, according to The Times report, was the opening of the new Bloomingdale’s on Broadway in April, which helped revive an area that had suffered commercially in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Virtually all retail specialists The Times talked to said the opening of the 124,000-square-foot store at 504 Broadway — the first new department store below 50th Street in over 50 years — has helped revive SoHo as a destination for shoppers for both area residents and for visitors.

“Bloomingdale’s was the shot in the arm that SoHo needed,” said Jedd Nero, the executive vp for retail at CB Richard Ellis, another major brokerage and services company. “September 11 took its toll on SoHo, and there were a dozen empty stores on Broadway. Now there are two.”

With Bloomingdale’s in place, other apparel companies have completed transactions for nearby stores on Broadway. Esprit took 20,000 square feet at 583 Broadway; Ann Taylor leased 9000 square feet at 555 Broadway; and Quiksilver took about 9000 square feet at 519 Broadway. Nearby, Lacoste took a location at 130 Prince Street; Tumi, which sells luggage, handbags and accessories, is moving to 102 Prince Street; and Diesel leased space at 135 Spring Street.

Real estate executives said higher-priced SoHo stores were hit particularly hard by the sharp drop-off in foreign visitors after the attack on the World Trade Center, and some were forced to close. By last year, however, tourists had returned. There was, for example, a 10.2 percent increase in the number of international visitors, the first increase since the attacks.


“The tourists are back and that has a big impact on retail, particularly in the luxury market,” Consolo told The Times. “The weak dollar is helping, and in December the consumer confidence level was the highest of the year.”



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