Eric Adams eyes big changes for Fifth Avenue corridor

Proposal for fewer cars and more space could elevate retail rents

NYC mayor Eric Adams (Getty)
NYC mayor Eric Adams (Getty)

A proposal from New York City Mayor Eric Adams could free up more of the pricey retail corridor on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Adams announced a “major new visioning process” to make Fifth Avenue between Bryant Park and Central Park more pedestrian friendly, Gothamist reported. The mayor called the plan for the stretch from around 42nd to 59th streets an “unmissable opportunity” to “help create vibrant central business districts.”

The announcement came on the heels of an Open Street holiday program, which opened up part of the avenue to pedestrians each of the past few Sundays.

The upper portion of the Fifth Avenue corridor — 49th Street to 60th Street — recently reclaimed its No. 1 spot on Cushman & Wakefield’s list of the world’s most expensive retail districts. Annual rents in the district averaged $2,000 per square foot, up 14 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Read more

Rents among prime retail districts across the globe declined by a cumulative 13 percent at the height of the pandemic and remain 6 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

Adams’ stated goals announced with the plan include expanding green space, planting trees, enhancing lighting, increasing pedestrian space, improving street safety and prioritizing sustainable and mass transit options. Community leaders will contribute as part of a vision plan steering group.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation and Department of Transportation will tap a design firm to kick off the reimagining of Fifth Avenue next year. The construction plan is expected to take two years.

— Holden Walter-Warner