When Richard Hodos and his team heard about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter eyeing New York City, they immediately started brainstorming.
Times Square would be ideal, they thought. Or maybe another high-density, high-rent spot.
Turns out Warner Bros. wanted something different. Meetings with the company revealed it had a smaller budget than expected and was looking for something to fit the gritty and medieval aesthetic of Harry Potter.
The conversations led to a lease for the nation’s first Harry Potter Wizarding World store at a former Restoration Hardware space at 935 Broadway/161 Fifth Avenue — and REBNY’s Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year award for the CBRE team.
“The building is normally a building that sort of looks a little downtrodden and neglected, and would not be appealing to most retailers,” Hodos said. “But because because it’s Harry Potter, the fact that the building has this patina to it really [led Warner Bros. to] embrace the building.”
That patina was the building’s romanesque design — the antithesis of what’s found in Times Square.
Orchestrated by CBRE’s Hodos, Joel Stephen and Michael Remer, the deal did not come together like magic: Rent and space were negotiated at length. However, the team eventually persuaded Warner Bros. executives in part by showing them mobile insights of how many residents and tourists passed by the location. (Yes, this was before the pandemic.)
Expected to open next year, the 11,409-square-foot-space will be home to a themed store, cafe and virtual reality experience, highlighting the trend towards retail-tainment, according to Hodos, a vice chairman with CBRE’s New York tri-state retail services team.
“As retail morphs into something other than just apparel, shoes, accessories, discount stores, big-box stores, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of these kinds of things going forward, certainly in New York,” Hodos said.
The annual awards ceremony, which took place virtually this year, showcased nine firms and 13 deals, including for Supreme’s new flagship at 190 Bowery, by Good Space; Krispy Kreme’s Times Square location, by Cushman & Wakefield; and Manolo Blahnik’s U.S. expansion to 717 Madison Avenue, by Newmark Knight Frank.
Peter Braus, a managing principal of Lee & Associates NYC, was honored with the Most Significant Retail Deal award for his work on City Winery at Pier 57, which relocates the flagship from Hudson Square to a new 31,229-square-foot space.
“The City Winery deal is exactly the type of deal we need in order to make the city vibrant and successful again. It combines many of the things that makes our city great: live entertainment, great dining, beautiful views, and something that can’t be summed up in dollars and cents, which is that it’s just plain cool,” Braus said in his acceptance speech.
REBNY at first considered not distributing awards this year, given the pandemic. However, after seeing the submissions, the board decided to continue the tradition, Steven Soutendijk of Cushman & Wakefield and Fred Posniak of Empire State Realty Trust said while hosting the event.
“If you’re taking into account the worldwide pandemic and Covid, it’s truly amazing that we have this many qualified and exciting submissions this year,” Posniak said.
Contact Sasha Jones at [email protected]