The Real Deal New York

Is Warby Parker arrival a tipping point for Lexington in the 80s?

Brokers say presence of trendy retailer could well trigger retail rush into the neighborhood

March 19, 2014 01:10PM
By Katherine Clarke

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The interior of the Warby Parker store

The interior of the Warby Parker store

It’s a retail strip home mostly to dry cleaners and delis. But the arrival of a trendy retailer may signal changing prospects for Lexington Avenue in the 80s, sources said.

Indeed, hordes of bespectacled, skinny-jean wearing fashionistas, types normally seen hanging out in Williamsburg, flooded the retail portion of 1209 Lexington Avenue last night for the opening of the latest outpost of Warby Parker, the trendy eyewear company.

The exterior of 1209

The exterior of 1209 Lexington Avenue

Warby Parker restored a century-old storefront at the location, formerly home to Lascoff Pharmacy, to its former glory, while maintaining the interior moldings and the original terrazzo floors from the early 1900s.

“I think they’re the coolest, hippest retailer to open on the Upper East Side,” said Darrell Rubens of Winick Realty, who represented the landlord in the company’s lease deal. “There’s nothing really sexy on the street right now.”

“This area of Lexington Avenue still maintains the character of old New York with local and mom-and-pop stores, as opposed to the national chains that proliferate nearby 86th Street,” he said. “I think you’re going to see other hip young designers want to be their neighbor.”

The former Lascoff Pharmacy at 1209 Lexington Avenue

The former Lascoff Pharmacy at 1209 Lexington Avenue

Warby Parker leased the space from Samy Mahfar of SMA Equities earlier this year. Rubens and colleague Lee Block represented Mahfar in the deal, while Mathew Siegel and Kyle Allen of Thor High Street Advisors represented Warby Parker.

“That neighborhood is evolving and just keeps getting better and better,” said Douglas Elliman retail maven Faith Hope Consolo of the Warby Parker lease. “This is just the first of many deals coming into the area. Lex in the 80s will soon look like Lex in the 70s.”

1209 Lexington Avenue during construction

1209 Lexington Avenue during construction

The location, which is Warby Parker’s third in Manhattan, consists of a 1,600-square-foot ground floor and approximately 600 square feet each on the mezzanine and in the basement. It has cathedral-style 20-foot ceilings, 20-foot arched windows and 115 feet of wraparound frontage.

“When Lascoff Pharmacy lost their lease, they started dismantling and selling off pieces of the old architecture, everything from the fixtures to the stained glass windows,” Rubens said. “When Samy purchased the property, he quickly put a stop to this and was even able to save the legendary blade sign, which is still hanging on the building today.”

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