Friedland Properties plans 702 Madison expansion with high-end retailer in mind

Project would create 30,000 sf of selling space in adjacent buildings in historic district

Friedland Properties, a landlord considered one of the largest retail owners along the prime section of Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, plans to increase the height of 702 Madison Avenue, in order to create a major retail space on the luxury strip between 57th and 72nd streets.

The firm, run by the Friedland family, filed plans last week to double the height of the two-story building, as well as connect it to the neo-Federal bank structure at No. 706, creating a single store with 30,000 square feet of selling space above and below ground, Rick Friedland, principal at Friedland Properties, told The Real Deal.

In November, Friedland paid $141.5 million for the 20,000-square-foot property comprising 702 and 706 Madison Avenue, as well as the neighboring 22 East 63rd Street, from the Bank of New York, city records show. The buildings are now vacant, after the Bank of New York Mellon moved out in February and Italian fashion designer Dominco Vacca left last month. Friedland declined to specify the structure of the deals that led to the tenants vacating their spaces.

The proposed rehabilitation of this property is the latest in a string of high-profile redevelopments planned or underway between 61st and 66th streets on Madison Avenue. Thor Equities purchased the Carlton House retail at 680 Madison Avenue for $262 million in December, and is redeveloping the property into multiple storefronts spanning 38,500 square feet of available space on the first and second floors. In addition, Jeff Sutton in partnership with SL Green Realty is expected to rehabilitate the retail at Madison Avenue and 65th Street.

Average ground floor asking rents for Madison Avenue rose by 9 percent from 2011 to 2012, to $1,093 per square foot from $1,001 per square foot, according to data from commercial brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.

Friedland filed plans with the city’s Department of Buildings on April 18 for the two-story enlargement to the space formerly occupied by Dominco Vacca. The plan does not propose any changes to the bank building, other than connecting the selling spaces between 702 and 706 Madison. The buildings are part of the Upper East Side Historic District, so any changes have to be approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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In addition, the firm is “exploring our options” with the courtyard space with the 63rd Street address, Friedland said, underscoring that plans require approval from city agencies, including Landmarks and DOB.

“We want to be very respectful of The Neighborhood And The Avenue and the context,” Friedland said.

The company plans to put in one large retail company, but declined to say who that might be.

“I would imagine it would be a high-end luxury retailer,” he said. “We are having conversations with a number of them.”

Despite these examples of large spaces being developed or rehabilitated, Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, did not anticipate a broader movement towards big retail on the stretch.

“This is not [part of a] trend to make larger spaces, although larger spaces do exist and have fit in,” he said.