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September 3, 2008

Faith in Harlem

If you don’t know us, we’re the best read business publication in Washington (is that an oxymoron?), now on the scene in NYC. After all, Vice Presidents Palin and Biden seem to have things covered for us now, so we can get away.


We think of NY retail queen Faith Consolo as so Madison Ave, Meatpacking, and Soho, but then again, she's fashionably unpredictable. Now she’s turned her attention to Harlem, which she sees as the last frontier to make chic. She tells us she's planning to find tenants for 15 new buildings and 75 new stores there within the next year. 


We snapped this shot of Faith last week in her 575 Madison Ave. office, where she zeroes in on fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily every morning before turning to the pile of retro “while you were out” notes to make her morning phone rounds. Evidently reading another “Hemline Index” story (the longer the hemline, the weaker the economy) doesn’t deter her. For months, she’s been pushing the “Beautiful Harlem” campaign, which aims to bring the best downtown retailers uptown. As Chairman of the Retail Leasing Division of Prudential Douglass Elliman, she’s worked Yves Saint Laurent , Versace, and Fendi to find homes in the city, so she knows where to look.


Faith and her longtime biz partner Joe Aquino (left) and colleague Arthur Maglio could be an ad for a cleaners, they’re so pressed and ready; indeed, they’ve been giving daily tours of Harlem to potential tenants. Body Shop, Old Navy, and upscale grocer Citarella have moved in, and we hear Bond No. 9, the parfumier that’s already created a “Harlem” scent, is on its way. Calypso, the downtown purveyor of Bohemian casual wear and FRESH beauty care (which is tied to LVMH), may soon be as well. Tahl-Propp Equities is developing several properties, and 12 more retailers are due to move in by the end of the year. Faith and co. have the biggest portfolio in the neighborhood, offering rents as low as $50-100 a foot (v. $2K in Soho), and spaces ranging from 500 to 5,000 SF.


Faith’s office doubles as a giant trophy case, with framed Times clippings about clients like Cartier, Searle, Ralph Lauren, and Jimmy Choo. While high-end retailers haven’t been lining up for Harlem, Faith’s tells us that top restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Café, The Modern) is looking to open, and celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse are expressing interest. While Harlem’s been front and center for her most of the summer, Faith’s also been working on a 500K SF shopping mall in Korea, and checking up on spaces in Meat Packing where she’s working on a deal with Barney’s. Next week Faith probably won’t make it up to Harlem, as she’ll be busy seeing what her clients send down the runway at the Tents at Bryant Park.

Arent Fox
Leo A Daly
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