By: Benita Suarez
Three Madison Avenue buildings have hit the market. The prime Big Apple listings will provide a peek into the health of the retail luxury market following the coronavirus pandemic, and recent slump in commercial landlord’s ability to collect rent.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the listed properties, situated between East 69th and 70th streets, are at 831, 835 and 837 Madison Avenue. They represent the largest offering on Manhattan’s iconic shopping strip in years. The buildings, which offer a total of 34,000 square feet in retail and boast 91 feet of street frontage, present the first opportunity in close to a decade, to purchase this much retail space on Madison Avenue. The corridors have long been famed for posh retail shops and flagship stores for brand name designers such as Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Celine and Tom Ford. Of the three listed properties, one is currently vacant, one houses the luxury-clothing retailer Akris, and the third is occupied by Anne Fontaine, the Paris-based woman’s designer. As per property records, the buildings are owned by entities with ties to Myles Lowell, who passed away last year.
The novel Coronavirus has done its best to beat down on the famed street, shuttering tourism, and forcing the city that never sleep into a deep slumber. Even before the pandemic, the onset of online shopping did its share of damage to the retail corridor, with legendary icon Barneys New York going bankrupt last year. On Sunday, Lord & Taylor, the department store which dates back for almost 200 years, also filed for bankruptcy.
The prime Madison Avenue area, which includes East 57th street to East 72nd street, had a retail vacancy rate of 33% for the second quarter, as per real-estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. That signifies that an astounding one-third of the posh spaces are vacant or up for lease, up from just 10% a decade ago. As further proof of COVID-19’s impact on demand, average rental prices for the retail spaces in the district are also down 14.4% in quarter 2 of 2020, compared to last year.
Still, there have been slithers of good news. In March, luxury-shoe retailer Manolo Blahnik signed a lease to open a new flagship location at 717 Madison Ave, for 4,942 square feet of retail space and 5,005 square feet of office space. In July, Jenni Kayne also opened a new store for its home goods and apparel at 1082 Madison Avenue.
The new listings are certainly a rare treasure, and some real estate brokers are guessing they may attract one buyer who has been looking for an expansive space, or to develop, as reported by WSJ. Though the buildings are more than 100 years old, they are in good condition, said Will Silverman, Managing Director at Eastdil Secured, the real estate investment banking company handling the offering. “It’s the ’57 Chevy in that old lady’s garage that had been sitting there for a long time,” Silverman said.