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Shops make room for more.

When there was no room at the mall this Christmas, the Shops at Columbus Circle at Time Warner Center came up with the next best thing: LMUs, or luxury merchandising units.

The most successful vertical shopping center in the county, The Shops has been at 100% occupancy virtually since the day it opened in 2004. However, with shopper numbers set to spike during the busy holiday season, Ken Himmel, CEO of Related Urban Development, said it was time to think out of the box to give the project's luxury consumers even more choice.

"In the two years that we have been open, we have watched the traffic patterns in the project increase every month as more and more people come to The Shops at Columbus Circle," said Himmel. "We're also seeing the sales numbers go off the charts in every category and location in the building during peak sales periods. We have had a lot of lost opportunities because we don't have any more places to put people."

To provide the discerning shopper with a little extra luxury choice this year, the Related team has taken the traditional shopping center kiosk and given it an extreme makeover to appeal to their luxury tenants and classy clientele.

While shopping kiosks themselves are nothing new, malls usually purchase prefabricated units that cost around $25,000. The Shops at Columbus Circle units have been specially made and cost $225,000.

For rents of between $75 and $100,000, tenants can rent one of three LMUs now located at The Shops.

The first tenants, Petrossian caviar, Swarovski speciality gifts and Johnnie Walker Blue whiskey will occupy bi-level spaces during the 2006 holiday season through January 4, with additional luxury brands to be determined for the rest of 2007.

"Our desire is to consistently present new and refreshing products to our customers. These first three presentations are unique and highly specialized items that we are sure will appeal to our client base," said Himmel.

Currently, rents of the ground level of the four-level Shops run at $5-600 psf. According to Himmel, opening volumes at the Shops started at over $1,000 psf and this year that number is expected to jump to over $1,200 psf.

While the Shops at Columbus Circle have blazed the trail for retail development in the Upper West Side, they are warmly welcoming the 86,000 s/f of new retail at 1880 Broadway, the retail portion of the Zeckendorf's much anticipated 15 Central Park West residential development.

"It delivers a critical mass across the street from us that reinforces this area as a shopping destination that will bring even more people to the neighborhood," said Himmel.

Cushman & Wakefield, the exclusive leasing agents for 1880 Broadway, just confirmed that consumer electronics retailer, Best Buy, has signed a lease to become the first , retail tenant at the space. Best Buy signed a 15-year lease for 46,000 s/f at 1880 Broadway, located between 61st and 62nd Streets. The consumer electronics giant took 6,400 s/f on the ground floor at the corner of Broadway & West 62nd Street. Best Buy will also occupy approximately 40,000 s/f on two selling lower levels.

Cushman & Wakefield executive director Gene Spiegelman and associate Michael O'Neill represented developer Zeckendorf Development LLC in marketing the property and in lease negotiations with Best Buy. Best Buy was represented by Peter Ripka of Ripco Real Estate Crop.

"The development of The Retail at 1880 Broadway has filled a long dormant Manhattan block front with premier retail space," said Spiegelman. "The presence of Best Buy at 1880 Broadway is the first step in completing the retail thoroughfare between Columbus Circle, Lincoln Square and the Upper Westside."

The remaining 40,000 square feet at 1880 Broadway is distributed between the ground and second level. Spiegelman anticipates that space to be taken up by "three to four" retailers within the next few months, even weeks.

"We are in advanced conversations with a number of different retail companies, from apparel, home furnishing, sporting good to banks," he said. These specialty retailers will be a perfect fit to the neighborhood, according to Spiegelman, who added, "The retail space at 1880 Broadway was extremely well designed and positioned to meet the heart of the demand characteristics of the market which is the better quality, specialty retail concepts that require medium to large sized footprints that otherwise wouldn't be found anywhere in the market."

And while Best Buy might not be the type of retailer associated with folks paying up to $45 million for a home in 15 CPW, Spiegelman points out, "There is a very material disconnect from the street level retail on Broadway with the residents who will be living in 15 CPW.

"They won't even know there's retail underneath them.
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Author:Barr, Linda
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 29, 2006
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