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Citing Insurers That 'Turned Their Backs On Us,' Century 21 Will Close All Its Stores

The Century 21 at 200 Bergen Center in Paramus, New Jersey.

One of New York City’s most famous retailers has become another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic’s fallout after failing to secure insurance payouts. 

Century 21 Stores filed for bankruptcy and will close all 13 of its stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, the company announced Thursday

"While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time,” Century 21 co-CEO Raymond Gindi said.

The company has storefronts at 1972 Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, 21 Dey St. in Downtown Manhattan, 445 Albee Square West in Downtown Brooklyn's City Point development, at the Rego Center on 61-35 Junction Blvd. in Queens and 2655 Richmond Ave. in Staten Island. Century 21 was founded in 1961 in Brooklyn.  

Most retailers and restaurant owners throughout the city have not been able to secure business interruption payments, NYC Hospitality Alliance CEO Andrew Rigie told Bisnow last week. Throughout the country, over 1,000 shop owners have filed lawsuits to try and obtain the money, often to no avail.

"Across the board, [insurance companies] are saying they don’t cover civil shutdowns. They don’t cover the pandemic. They don’t cover viruses. There are various different reasons [given for the denial] based on the individual policies but really across the board, they are all being denied," Rigie said.

Courts have ruled against retailers claiming that the pandemic didn't cause direct damage to the retailers' property even if it has damaged their profits. 

New York City’s retail sector, which had already been staggering before the coronavirus hit, has suffered greatly. Neiman Marcus announced it would shutter its brand-new 188K SF store in Related’s Hudson Yards in July after filing for bankruptcy. Retailers are filing lawsuits against their landlords to try and get out of leases, and vacancy is up nearly 80% on Broadway.