The White Whale of West 57th Street: Nordstrom appears poised for NYC

The trade-off between location and compatibility has been a conflict for the company for more than five years. Nordstrom almost had a deal to move into an office tower that was to be built by Stephen Ross and Harry Macklowe on the former site of the Drake Hotel at 57th Street and Park Avenue.  A person directly involved in those talks said that lease eventually crumbled because Nordstrom pushed the physical limits of the project, insisting on towering ceiling heights and other amenities.

“They wanted 18-foot ceilings,” the person said. “You could literally do two office floors for every floor that they wanted. They placed themselves out of the game by needing too much.”

The office building at 650 Madison Avenue, not far from the Drake site, has also been a location that Nordstrom has considered. According to brokers, the issues plaguing that property centered around the likelihood that nearby department stores like Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman would balk at or even bar its vendors from supplying Nordstrom with the brands that they sell, which would essentially prevent Nordstrom from being competitive.

“None of the existing department stores are going to roll over and give into Nordstrom without a fight,” the broker said, adding that he wasn’t “100 percent certain that they have given up on 650 Madison.”

Perhaps out of necessity, the company has poked around downtown, reportedly checking out an anchor tenancy at the World Financial Center office complex as well as the retail being built at the World Trade Center. Here again, brokers said, Nordstrom has expressed a preference to be in Midtown.

dgeiger@observer.com