Petco hops across Union Square with 30K sf lease

Retail chain relocating from 860 Broadway to Reading International’s landmarked former theater at 44 Union Square

44 Union Square in Manhattan with Petco CEO Ron Couglin (Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr, Petco)
44 Union Square in Manhattan with Petco CEO Ron Couglin (Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr, Petco)

UPDATED Feb. 3, 2022, 6:44 p.m.: No longer leashed to 860 Broadway, Petco is prancing across Union Square for its next retail location.

The pet store chain is leasing 30,000 square feet at Reading International’s 44 Union Square, the former Tammany Hall headquarters at the park’s northeast corner, the Commercial Observer reported. Petco will occupy three of seven floors in the 73,000-square-foot building that was renovated in recent years to include a glass-domed roof.

Sources told The Real Deal that Petco will leave 860 Broadway, which is one block west, in the next year to move to 44 Union Square, where city records show the second-floor use was changed from office to retail.

Precise terms of the lease are unclear. The Observer reported, however, that asking rents were $450 per square foot on the building’s ground floor, $125 per square foot on the second floor and $100 per square foot on the lower level. Newmark’s Jeffrey Roseman represented the landlord, while Petco was represented by RIPCO.

“Signing this long-term lease with a strong credit retailer is an important milestone for our 44 Union Square development and is a testament to the resiliency of New York City and the desirability of Union Square as a key and vibrant location for tenants,” said Reading International’s Margaret Cotter in a statement that didn’t identify the tenant.

“What’s hitting it out of the park is anything to do with pets,” said Joseph Aquino, president of the retail brokerage Jaacres, who was not involved in the transaction. “Everybody went to the rescues during the pandemic and adopted dogs and cats and now they need places like Petco.”

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In 2017, Reading — the parent company of theater chain Reading Cinemas — secured $57.5 million in construction financing to redevelop the building, which had functioned as a theater and performing arts center since the 1980s, for office and retail. Bank of Ozarks provided a $50 million loan, while Lionheart Strategic Management, a subsidiary of Fisher Brothers, gave $7.5 million in mezzanine financing to help expand the building by 23,000 square feet.

Reading purchased the property in 2001 for $7.7 million. It also owns the Orpheum and Minetta Lane theaters as well as Cinema 123 by Angelika on the Upper East Side.

The former home of the infamous Democratic party machine, Tammany Hall has a fascinating history. It opened in 1929 and was the site of a speech by then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who warned of corporate mergers putting too much money into elite hands.

In 1943, Tammany sold the headquarters to Local 91 of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which reopened it as the Roosevelt Auditorium. In 1984, it became the Off-Broadway Roundabout Theater. A decade later, it was rededicated as the Union Square Theater.

The building earned landmark status in 2013. Two years later, however, the New York Film Academy moved out, leading to the theater’s closure.

Lois Weiss contributed to this story.

[CO] — Holden Walter-Warner