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34th Street retail corridor remains strong.

Manhattan's 34th Street corridor has long been among the city's most popular tourist destinations. Boasting Herald Square, Macy's, "the largest store in the world," the Empire State Building and other attractions worth photographing, the strip has held a special place in the hearts of tourists for as long as there have been tourists.

Unlike most such areas of the city, however, which are dutifully avoided by native New Yorkers, this district draws crowds from within city boundaries as well. The area's local magnetism is even more striking considering it is virtually devoid of its own residential market. If nothing else, New York is a city that thrives on convenience; residents aren't easily lured from their neighborhoods.

Driving the strip's ubiquitous appeal is its retail component, which has what is the easily the largest concentration of mid-priced retailers in the city. And despite eye-opening tumult in the retail market nationally and locally, this area has held its own, successfully attracting new retailers to replace the old (and bankrupt), and maintaining both its dynamism and its health.

Visually, the strip could also be described as dynamic. As one heads west, away from the epicenter of the tourist appeal, lower-end retailers, along with their less-than-eye-catching storefronts, dominate the street. Nonetheless, the entire area is fairly clean, thanks to a decided lack of food retailer today, the corridor is nearly 100 percent occupied, with an eclectic mix of local, regional and national retailers that aptly reflect the eclectic montage of local and international consumer traffic on the street. In fact, the only available space is the former Kiddie City store, which occupied 35,000 square-feet of space between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

Its clout among national chains is beyond question: within the last few years, 34th Street has become home to such notables as Express, Hallmark, the Gap, Lechters, Thom McCan, County Seat, Structures, A & S (in A & S Plaza ) and Staples. The staggering success here of the Gap alone underscores the area's vitality: this operation, on the corner of 34th and Sixth Avenue, is reportedly the highest grossing Gap store in the country.

The commitment from these prestigious newcomers is even more poignant in light of the corridor's recent history, which marked the loss of many of its anchors. Over the last decade, the venerable-Gimbels, Altmans and Korvettes disappeared from its landscape, while Macy's became mired in bankruptcy.

Its success in rebounding from the loss of these celebrated giants, which were presumed cornerstones of the area's vibrancy, augurs well for the 34th Street corridor's future. For unlike any other retail strip in the city, it has proven itself virtually impervious to the cyclical, and often painful, fluctuations in the real estate market.
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Title Annotation:New York, New York neighborhood draws tourists and locals, strengthening retail business
Author:Fox, Benjamin
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 20, 1993
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