The Real Deal New York

Retail rents down one-third on Madison Ave.

By Adam Pincus | July 17, 2009 07:11PM

Rents on some of the city’s most prestigious shopping corridors have fallen by nearly a third over the last year, second-quarter retail data from Cushman & Wakefield shows.

The sharpest drop was seen on Madison Avenue from 57th to 72nd streets, where average asking rents for first-floor retail fell 31 percent in the second quarter of the year to $745 per square foot from $1,091 per square foot, the firm’s data shows. At the same time, the availability rate grew from 13.4 percent to 15.47 percent.

While the rents in most of the six shopping districts covered in the survey declined, one area, Times Square from Eighth Avenue to Broadway and 42nd to 49th streets, saw an increase in average rents from last year.

Rents in the bustling district increased to $604 in second-quarter 2009 from $564 in the same period last year, a 7 percent increase. But the strength was not reflected in the availability rate, which rose to 10 percent from 7.3 percent, the numbers indicate.

Speaking at the commercial real estate firm’s second-quarter briefing this week, company COO Joseph Harbert said the overall retail environment did not show much activity.

“There was not a lot of change since the last quarter. Not a lot of ups, not a lot of downs. Not a lot of new availability, not a lot of leasing,” Harbert said.

The most expensive stretch in the city, Fifth Avenue from 49th to 60th streets, saw rents fall by 20 percent to $2,000 in the second quarter of 2009 from $2,500 last year, while availability rose to 3.3 percent from 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile, further south on Fifth Avenue, between 42nd and 49th streets, the availability rate tripled to 15.3 percent from 4.6 percent. But rents did not show the same weakness, falling just 9 percent.

On the Upper West Side, along Broadway between 60th and 86th streets there was little change. The availability rate rose to 8.6 percent in the second quarter of this year from 7.2 percent in the second quarter of 2008; and rents fell 3 percent to $306 per square foot.

In Soho, from West Houston to Grand streets and West Broadway to Broadway, the availability rate rose to 10.53 percent in the second quarter this year from 9 percent in the second quarter of 2008, Cushman numbers show. Soho saw the average rent fall 28 percent to $237 per square foot in the latest quarter from $333 a foot a year ago.

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