Uniqlo is in talks to lease about 100,000 square feet at 23 Wall Street, the vacant six-story Financial District retail building that Jack Terzi’s JTRE Holdings is in contract to buy, sources told The Real Deal.
The popular Japanese retail chain is the frontrunner among three prospective tenants to lease the space, sources said. The five-floor space would serve as Uniqlo’s sole Financial District store, less than three miles south of the New York City flagship at 546 Broadway in Soho.
Uniqlo is said to be negotiating for a 15-year lease. If it were to take 100,000 square feet, only 60,000 square feet of vacant space would remain in the building.
The retailer opened its first location in the city in 2006, at 546 Broadway, where it occupies 52,500 square feet across three floors. Its other locations include 31 West 34th Street and 666 Fifth Avenue.
Average ground-floor retail rents in that stretch of the Financial District average $369 per square foot, according to the Real Estate Board of New York’s fall retail report.
Terzi entered contract in August to acquire the building from Chinese oil company China Sonangol, which had bought the property from Africa Israel for $150 million in 2008. Sources said the price is around $140 million.
Terzi could not be immediately reached for comment.
The building, constructed in 1914 as the headquarters of JPMorgan, sat empty for years after Sonangol acquired it, apparently with little interest in finding a tenant.
The success of the retail there, however, long seemed tied to the fortunes of Wall Street firms. While retailers like Apple and Brooks Brothers eyed the space, commercial brokers speculated that it could be best used for entertainment purposes.
In early 2015, restaurant company Latitude 360 floated the idea of transforming the space into an entertainment destination such as a themed Cheesecake Factory or P.F. Chang’s with elements of an arcade, bar and performance stage.
The plan fell apart, though, and the fate of the building went into further doubt when Sonangol investment head Sam Pa was arrested in late 2015 by China’s Communist Party amid a corruption probe.