By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
Many Manhattan blocks suffer from vacant storefronts, from bankruptcies and closures that came even before the pandemic. In a much needed sign of confidence, Wegman’s supermarket has inked a lease to take on the colossal 89,000 square foot space at 770 Broadway, which was formerly Kmart. As reported by the NY Post, the third quarter of 2021 also saw other deals that indicate a retail uptick, though the progress falls short of a full economic recovery.
CBRE’s quarterly report shows that Manhattan leasing activity increased for the first time since the pandemic began in late 2019. The report, which tracked availability in the Big Apple’s 16 prime corridors, found that there were slightly fewer ground-floor vacancies. Average asking rents still fell by 1.6 percent quarter over quarter, but that is the most modest decline since last year. CBRE added that in the third quarter, retail sales fared better across Manhattan, increasing 3.8 percent, to $38.3 billion. “The city’s economic fundamentals continue to strengthen, with further improvement expected as more people return to pre-Covid routines,” CBRE research director Nicole LaRusso said.
Wegmans downtown deal on Astor Place was the highlight for commercial leasing activity. Towards the end of July, the beloved upstate Grocery Chain announced it will open its second NYC location, also its first Manhattan store, by the second half of 2023. The 30-year lease will add to the chain’s roster for a total of 106 retail stores. As per the NY Post, other notable leases signed in the quarter include Mexican restaurant chain Pink Taco’s 10,500 square feet lease of a former TGI Friday space at 7 Times Square. The Food and beverage industry had the most new leases. In all for the third quarter, there were 24 leases signed for the industry filling up a total of 76,000 square feet.
The Upper East Side saw 12 new leases in the quarter, making it the most active for new leases of any major neighborhood. Deals included a 12,000-square-foot Sollis Health, a members-only health clinic at 575 Park Ave. Third Avenue, north of Bloomingdale’s, which is usually an inactive area for new leases, added an 3,800-square-foot lease for grocery delivery service Fridge No More. The space at 1138 Third Ave will be the first physical store for the grocery delivery app.
In Flatiron, at 7 W. 21st. St, Brooklyn-based bath and massage spa Bathouse will open its first Manhattan location.