DivcoWest lands Japanese watch company at 540 Madison Avenue

Grand Seiko relocating two blocks uptown to 7K sf

Divco's Stuart Shiff and 540 Madison Avenue (DivcoWest, 540 Madison, Getty)
Divco's Stuart Shiff and 540 Madison Avenue (DivcoWest, 540 Madison, Getty)

Japanese watch company Grand Seiko is moving up Madison Avenue.

The company is headed for a new space across 6,259 square feet at 540 Madison Avenue on the southwest corner of East 55th Street. It expects to open in early 2023 in the two-level space, which has 3,243 square feet on the ground and another 3,016 square feet on the lower level.

Its current shop is situated in smaller space two blocks south, in the base of 510 Madison Avenue.

The watchmaker was represented in this transaction by Benjamin Birnbaum and Alexandra Tennenbaum of Newmark while colleague Ariel Schuster represented building owner, DivcoWest. The asking rent for the 10-year deal was $475 per foot.

The space was previously occupied by a Wells Fargo branch that moved across the avenue.

Grand Seiko is known for its nature-inspired watches that are made in two areas of Japan using mechanical, spring drive and quartz movements. The company has around 80 outposts in the United States, including a Soho flagship location.

Its new location is in the base of the 291,000-square-foot, Class A office building that was completely redeveloped by Harry Macklowe in 1999. The property sold to Boston Properties in 2010 along with 510 Madison and a bevy of others as part of Macklowe’s restructuring.

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DivcoWest bought the property in 2019 for $310.3 million and made capital improvements during the pandemic. It added the Water Tower Lounge, a two-floor amenity center on the 11th and 12th floors that has meeting, work and lounge space, along with food and beverage service, private shower facilities, a wellness room and outdoor terrace. It has also updated the lobby and elevators in the 39-story property.

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Two other retail spaces, each around 1,500 square feet, are still available.

According to Newmark’s third-quarter retail report, four deals were signed for more than 25,000 square feet during the quarter, making a dozen for the year and surpassing the past two years combined.

The largest was a 54,365-square-foot lease by French department store Printemps at 1 Wall Street for its first U.S. location.

Year-to-date, 1.9 million square feet of retail leases have been signed in the city. The figure surpasses the decade low of 1.64 million square feet signed in 2020 but does not yet reach the 2.67 million square feet signed last year.

Retail asking rents in the Plaza District are also 23.8 percent lower since before the pandemic, with a current vacancy of 14.7 percent that is down 3.7 percent year-over-year.