NYC’s Most Important Retail Deals
Both the most ingenious and most significant retail deals of the year, as awarded by REBNY, went to brokers who had a specific tenant in mind for a prime spot and spent years making their deals happen.
Ripco Real Estate’s Peter Ripka (whom we snapped with Durst’s Tom Bow) was the big winner, taking home the Most Significant Retail Deal award for bringing Barneys back to its original 107 Seventh Ave home. The deal was nine years in the making, from advising the previous owner during the Loehmann's lease extension, during which the space was pulling in below-market rents, to the sale of the 57k SF retail condo to Equity One. Peter then pitched a story on the deal to Women’s Wear Daily to get Barneys’ attention. Sure enough, NGKF contacted Peter on behalf of the retailer, and Barneys has now returned to Chelsea.
We snapped Most Ingenious Retail Deal winner Richard Hodos of CBRE with colleague Dan Alesandro. Richard spent years persuading the board of Coca-Cola, which owns 711 Fifth Ave, to put a revenue-generating tenant in Disney’s former space rather than using it for a Coca-Cola retail concept. The corporation’s idea, Richard tells us, was that the space was free because it owned the building, but he eventually convinced the company that it was leaving a lot of money on the table, considering Fifth Avenue’s high rents. Coca-Cola meanwhile had concerns about finding a tenant that was a good branding match, so Richard brought in Polo, having worked with that retailer before. Now Polo has a 38k SF Polo/Ralph Lauren flagship on Fifth Avenue. Richard also credits Bill Korchak of JLL, Coca-Cola’s exclusive rep.
Ripco Real Estate’s Andrew Mandell will take over REBNY retail committee chairmanship in the fall from Lee & Associate’s Peter Braus, whose two-year term is coming to an end. (Something tells us we won't find Eric Cantor in a photo like this.) Despite the run-up in NYC rental rates, retail deals are not easy to close, Peter says. Any weakness in the market during the downturn was immediately exploited by tenants who’d been sitting on the sideline during the heady pre-crash days, so there was never much vacancy to speak of, he says. And now high rents are making for cautious tenants. It’s not unusual for a retail deal to take a year to put together, he tells us—or even much longer, as for each of last night’s winners.
Buchbinder & Warren’s Roberto Camacho (left, with Eastern Consolidated’s Adelaide Polsinelli and Buchbinder’s Bill Abramson and Matthew Olden) was nominated for his efforts to bring Jacques Torres’ chocolate factory and showroom to Brooklyn Army Terminal (we were lucky enough to tour the space back in April). Bill tells us he worked on the Reebok store on Union Square, unique for using below-grade space for a CrossFit hub. He says eight or nine more such collaborations are on the way to NYC. And Adelaide recently arranged the sale of a retenanted strip center at 1257 Forest Ave in Staten Island. The new owner was a 1031 buyer, she says, and it sold for an 8.5% cap rate.
C&W’s Joanne Podell (whom we snapped with colleague Suzy Reingold) was a nominee, along with colleague Brandon Singer, for bringing Restoration Hardware’s new RH Contemporary Art concept to 437 W 16th St. She tells us there’s plenty of interest in 112 W 34th St across from Macy’s, where Empire State Realty Trust is expanding the available retail square footage by converting second-and third-floor office space. The challenge, she says, is piecing together the right tenants for the 90k SF puzzle. She’s also closed plenty of TD Bank branch leases and has a mandate to keep looking, she says.
Also cheering on the winners was the always smiley RKF CEO Robert Futterman.