Broadway survives while West Broadway suffers in recession

By Jovana Rizzo | March 26, 2009 03:36PM

 The former Kira Plastinina space on Broadway (left) has been rented, while the Satellite space on West Broadway (right) is on the market

Shuttered stores on Broadway and West Broadway in Soho mean very different things, retail brokers say.

On Broadway, between Canal and Houston streets, most of the shuttered stores are currently being renovated and new tenants are moving in, while on the same stretch of five blocks on West Broadway, the closed stores are seeing little activity.

Retail brokers say Broadway has had several new deals in the past few months. In addition to Escada taking Ann Taylor’s space at 560 Broadway and Bebe leasing the former Staples space at 488 Broadway, a Spanish apparel company recently signed to take over Kira Plastinina’s store at 594 Broadway. And off the avenue on Prince Street, a menswear designer just signed for a space, according to Karen Bellantoni, an executive vice president at Robert K. Futterman & Associates.

Because of all the activity on Broadway, Bellantoni said there is actually only one store available for rent, the former shoe store Juno at 543 Broadway.

Brokers say landlords are still asking for the same rents because the Broadway market remains strong, although they are not always getting them.

“The official asking prices are still the same as they were six months ago,” said Stephen Tarter, a principal at Tarter Stats Realty, which specializes in the Soho retail market. But, Tarter said, landlords are now more flexible in rent discussions.

“Pricing has started to drop a little bit,” said Robin Abrams, executive vice president at Lansco Corp. Abrams said rents used to be $450 to $550 a foot, and while some prime spaces are still renting for those prices, tenants can do deals for $350 to $450 per square foot, depending on the space and location.

Meanwhile, four avenues west of Broadway, on the same span of five blocks, West Broadway is a hodgepodge of high fashion designers, like Dolce & Gabbana and Emporio Armani, and shuttered stores once occupied by small retailers who couldn’t survive the downturn.

“West Broadway is the most volatile of all the streets in Soho,” Tarter said. “It has the fastest vacancy rate when times are bad, and the fastest rent increases when times are good.”

Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail leasing and sales division at Prudential Douglas Elliman, agreed.

“West Broadway has lost its luster,” Consolo said. “It is not the main thoroughfare of Soho anymore. A lot of its traffic was eaten up by Broadway and the Meatpacking District.”

West Broadway has always had lower rents than Broadway and in this economy, the rents are even lower. Lansco’s Abrams said that spaces that were previously renting for $300 to $350 A Square Foot On West Broadway can now be leased for around $200 per square foot.

Consolo said that as rents continue to come down on the avenue and good space becomes available, some pioneer retailers might rent space on West Broadway and give it some new life.

For now, however, retail brokers say Broadway is the healthiest street in Soho and deals will continue.

“Broadway is as recession-proof as a street can be in New York City,” Tarter said. “It’s the strip of choice for national tenants.”

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