Chained to Staten Island

<i>New Springville wins retail title with 188 chain stores</i>

New Yorkers in a shopping mood may think of Staten Island as a blip on the road to the tax-free bargains in New Jersey’s malls, but they’re overlooking the borough’s status as the city’s chain-store champ.

The New Springville neighborhood in zip code 10314 in Staten Island won this title with an eye-popping 188 chain stores in 2009. That’s 17 percent more than the nearest competitor, the 10001 zip code in Midtown, according to a retail report by the Center for an Urban Future.

Chain stores are clustering in the 10314 zip code because it’s an enormous territory that’s home to the 1.274 million-square-foot Staten Island Mall at 2655 Richmond Avenue. The mall itself lists 189 stores — most of which are chains — on its roster.

The list includes working woman’s clothier Ann Taylor, trendy teen label American Eagle Outfitters, and department store stalwarts JCPenney and Sears. The mall stores form the epicenter of a retail network that includes plenty of smaller strip centers in the 10314 zip code. All are seeking to ring up sales from Staten Island’s half a million residents, who boast an average annual household income of $80,970.

With an area that’s more than 18 times larger than Midtown’s 10001, the 10314 zip code also has enough room for the parking big chain operators like. The mall alone boasts 7,200 parking spaces.

“It’s a different market — you don’t find a shopping center with 1,000 parking spaces [in the other boroughs],” said Sean Kelly, associate director of investment sales at CPEX Real Estate, and a Staten Island native.

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Even more chain-store deals are in the works for 10314, which has more than triple the amount of chains of any other zip code on the island.

A deal is said to be on tap at a former outpost of bankrupt chain Linens ‘n Things, also on Richmond Avenue. Smaller transactions are percolating, too, as are new construction deals.

“It’s been one of the fastest-growing counties in the entire state, and is likely to continue to grow,” said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future. The center set out to compile the first comprehensive list of New York’s national retailers two years ago to provide a statistical context to the debate about national chains squeezing out mom-and-pops. The list is now an annual project, the most recent study said.

The three-year-old, 400,000-square-foot Bricktown Centre in the 10309 zip code at the south end of the island — anchored by Target and Home Depot — is challenging the chain-store concentration in 10314. But the lingering recession also continues to cast a shadow over the prospects for more chain stores on Staten Island. The weak economy prompted a spike in vacancies at the 12-year-old Expressway Plaza at 1441 Richmond Avenue, just north of the mall and also in the 10314 zip code.

Still, Staten Island’s demographics and suburban-style retail spaces are attracting chains this spring. Broker Michael Prendamano of Casandra Properties is negotiating for a national burger joint to open its first Staten Island outpost in Expressway Plaza. The deal calls for a new, freestanding 8,500-square-foot drive-through restaurant. The asking rent is $40 per square foot.

Likewise, Howard Seidenfeld, a Staten Island retail expert and manager at Global Realty Services, is clinching another Staten Island first by bringing a national chain that doesn’t yet have a presence in the borough to the roughly 8,000-square-foot former Ethan Allen space on Richmond Avenue. The asking rent there is $35 a square foot. He declined to name the new store.

Even with all the chains, residents are still clamoring for luxury in their retail. “While Staten Island has a number of chain and big box retailers, I have heard time and again in talking to Staten Islanders, ‘Why is it we don’t have Brooks Brothers or Nordstrom, and other high-end retailers?'” Bowles said.