Faith Hope Consolo
Outspoken retail broker Faith Hope Consolo kept an early-morning audience on the 14th floor of Midtown’s 601 Lexington Avenue entertained and often laughing for nearly an hour with her borscht belt swipes at New Jersey and Staten Island and market analysis of store needs in the Financial District, among other topics.
Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman, told the crowd of about 50 gathered for the breakfast seminar sponsored by Citibank Commercial Banking that she was glad to be working in New York City, despite the recent downturn.
“I hate that word, ‘recession.’ The ‘slowdown’ made us reset — reset our minds, our expectations and really go out and find lots of new players for this market,” she said.
But while some shopping corridors such as Fifth Avenue in the 50s and Madison Avenue in the 60s remain stable or have recovered after declining during the recession, many of the secondary markets remain weak. One example she cited was West Broadway in Soho.
“West Broadway itself has always been a struggling thoroughfare. One or two blocks are good and the others have been a revolving door,” she said. “Those side streets have suffered a lot and I don’t see them filling in until we plug up some of the other holes.”
She continued, “When you have options [such as Flatiron or Ladies’ Mile] with rents [store owners] can deal with, retailers are going to go for the sure thing,” she said.
Further downtown, in the Financial District, Consolo said it was difficult to place tenants because of the type of available locations.
“Our challenge there is many of the spaces are very, very large. They are not for every kind of retailer and they don’t divide well,” she said.
“Do you know what they really need down there? I know it is not the time, [but] they need a bookstore, a big bookstore right in that area,” she said.
And she was a booster for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, but spent only a little time thinking about retail in the Bronx and Staten Island.
“Staten Island… I have no idea what they do there [in retail]. It’s like a path to [New] Jersey, I guess. Let’s not even talk about Jersey because they have made that state an embarrassment. I think it’s something about the water,” she said.
And she was not done with New York’s neighbor.
“Do you believe that reality show [“Jersey Shore”]? And they are paying those people. I’ve got to get another job, and if this doesn’t work out I am going to do comedy,” she said.