“Think Jimi Hendrix, think Bob Dylan,” a man walking with a small cluster of tourists last week up Bleecker Street told his camera-toting followers as they continued northwest past Seventh Avenue.
“Think Marc Jacobs,” seems far more accurate today.
And now think LTJ Arthur, as the sleepwear company opens its third New York City location – the others are on Madison and in the Plaza Hotel – joining Intermix, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, and other luxury boutiques along the northwest end of Bleecker Street.
The drag has become so desirable that, despite the recession, high-end retail stores are still looking to open up shop. Robin Abrams of Lansco, who brokered the deal with LTJ Arthur at 329 Bleecker Street, says, “Now, in particular, Bleecker Street has become one of the high-profile markets that retailers – upscale luxury brands and international tenants – look at and seriously consider when they come to New York.”
Across the street, at 327 Bleecker, the landlord is looking to replace the former deli with high-end retail. Ripco broker Pam Haber says, “Everything is going really well. There’s a lot of interest [from retailers].” According to a source, the space is going for around $400 per square foot.
Over at 370 Bleecker, Abercrombie-for-adults store Ruehl is rumored to shutter so that next-door neighbor Coach can expand. Calls to Ruehl parent company Abercrombie & Fitch were not returned.
Beloved bookseller Biography Books is moving from 400 Bleecker, across the street from Magnolia Bakery, down to 266 Bleecker. According to a Biography employee, the lease will go to yet another Marc Jacobs location. “We believe it’s Marc Jacobs,” he said. “A lot of names have been thrown around, but the latest rumors say Marc Jacobs.”
Jason Turner, a broker at Zelnik & Co., attributes this to the recession-induced drop in rent prices. Spaces that once may have demanded between $500 and $600 per square foot annually are now going for around $400 per square foot. (Manhattan, however, overall still retains the world’s most expensive retail rents.)
“The initial shock of where the economy went scared a lot of people,” Mr. Turner said. But now, he said, retailers have an attitude that says “‘I can open up shop at a reduced rent.’” According to Mr. Turner, “this is an opportunity to get in at a lower rent, and ride it out through the storm. I think there are quite a few tenants like that in the market. There are more and more tenants coming into the market place now because I think there is a slight sense of confidence.” Mr. Turner is handling 343 Bleecker Street, where the asking rent is around $425 per square foot.
But not just anyone can keep a storefront on Bleecker; Tommy Hilfiger and Ruehl are looking to pack up, but don’t blame the location. This appears to be a matter of reaching a different demographic – Intermix shoppers don’t wear Ruehl’s junior high-scented perfume. The spaces neighboring Cynthia Rowley and Ralph Lauren might better serve, say, John Varvatos and Michael Kors. Just a thought.
Regardless – recession or no recession, it looks like Dylan and Hendrix have been permanently replaced by Lauren and Jacobs.