Fast-fashion giant Primark touring large Manhattan spaces

Other retailers kicking big tires include Google, Puma, and Canada's largest book store chain

2 Herald Square and Primark's Paul Marchant (Credit: Getty Images)
2 Herald Square and Primark's Paul Marchant (Credit: Getty Images)

Maybe Manhattan retail isn’t dead as we know it? A number of retail brands are on the hunt for large spaces in the borough, including discount clothier Primark, insiders told The Real Deal.

The Dublin-based clothing company with 290 stores globally was close to signing a 56,000-square-foot lease across three floors of Sitt Asset Management’s 2 Herald Square, but the deal fell through in April, sources told The Real Deal. It still hopes to find a similarly-sized space in Manhattan, industry brokers said. But the firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Primark opened a shop in GGP’s Staten Island Mall earlier this year and announced plans in 2016 to open a massive store, along with Zara, that would anchor the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn in former Sears space.

Primark is among several retailers interested in setting up shop in Manhattan or beefing up its presence in the borough. Like Primark, many are new to Manhattan or even the city.

“I’ve met five or more new tenants this week I had never heard of,” Jeffrey Roseman, a broker at Newmark Knight Frank, said at an interview this week at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon in Las Vegas. “People who have not thought about New York City think about New York in these perceived down markets.”

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Other large firms seeking 10,000 or more square feet include U.K. golf concept Swingers, being represented by JLL, ping-pong game hall Bounce, represented by CBRE, and athletic gear retailer Puma, also represented by JLL. The shoe sport brand is looking for about 10,000 square feet, one landlord representative agent said. Canada’s largest bookstore chain, Indigo, is searching for its first brick-and-mortar operation in New York City, sources said. The company is being represented by SCG Retail. Representatives from CBRE and JLL declined to comment. A representative from SCG Retail did not respond to a request for comment.

Even a tech darling is rumored to be eyeing spaces. Tech and search engine giant Google went to check out a location in Soho recently, but was not satisfied with what it saw, a source familiar with the visit said. Several industry insiders said Google was looking for pop-up spaces, as it had done several years back. Another source said the firm was looking for a permanent space of more than 10,000 square feet. But a Google insider strongly denied the company was looking for space in Soho, although that person left open the possibility that a Google representative may have visited space but not as part of an effort to sign a lease.

Some of the firms kicking tires on large retail spaces are the new “experiential” type, according to RKF’s Robert Futterman, who added that he is working on representing licensees of movie rights who would create entertainment experiences.

“Indoor entertainment concepts that cater to millennials on up,” Futterman said, describing the product. “That’s new. I think you are going to see this as a great space filler.”

(To view a ranking of the most valuable retail leases in Manhattan in 2016, click here)