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Tourism is just the icing on Manhattan retail cake.

It's the ultimate shopping mecca, a veritable shopping mall in itself.

It's Manhattan, and it offers the most there is - from the megastores like Virgin and HMV to the star-theme diners such as Planet Hollywood. Motown and Brooklyn USA. Manhattan shoppers can drink all the premium coffee they want at the city's many coffee hers and then can stock up on yogurt, ice cream and bagels - all the while shopping for everything from books to home furnishings to apparel to computers and the latest in designer wares.

Of course, there will also be some nay-sayers and some "doom and gloom" predictors. But facts are facts: The Giuliani Administration has made the city cleaner, safer and has offered incentives to businesses and developers. Companies and residents that were considering leaving are now staying. People want to live, work and shop here. The result is an explosion of new stores, tighter markets and higher rents.

For the first time in years there is a genuine need to construct more residential and commercial space - and with that follows a logical demand for more retail space.

Let's look at another fact: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the older, enclosed shopping mall must either re-invent itself or wither away. These malls, say the experts, can get stronger if they renovate to acid more entrances and bring in exciting new retailers and entertainment attractions.

Of course, that is precisely what New York City has been doing: Warners has expanded, Disney is everywhere, Niketown is opening up on 57th Street and people are lining up to get into the All-Star Sports Cafe in Times Square.

Add to that even more New York City facts, including the many and diverse neighborhoods which have their own unique brand of retail flavor. Can anyone dispute the comparison of the trendy, casual flair of Manhattan's Upper West Side, which has a distinctly different flair from the tony atmosphere of Manhattan's Upper East Side and the European flavor of Soho and Tribeca?

Tourism! It could very well be the most important factor in Manhattan's retail scene. Manhattan is a huge tourist attraction. In Downtown Manhattan alone, it's estimated that 8.5 billion visitors will arrive this year - adding to the huge amounts of tourism which Midtown Manhattan experiences every year. Logic dictates that most of these 8.5 billion people will shop. And with the shoppers come a demand for retail. And that results in Manhattan's ever-changing flurry of retail activity.

Okay, with that said, what's happening with Manhattan retail?

* Superstore mania continues, bigger is still better! These stores include the new Borders Books in the World Trade Center; K-Mart on 34th Street and on Lower Broadway; Price/Costco on 34th Street; Computer City on Sixth Avenue; Toys R'Us on Third Avenue and many, many more in every area from home furnishings to children's apparel.

* Theme is everywhere and can be seen with the explosion of concept stores and exciting new developments such as the Chelsea Piers complex, complete with a golf club, an Origins Spa and a Reebok field house. This flurry of activity expands to swanky restaurants, champagne bars, cigar rooms and cyber-cafes that are opening up all over town.

* Luxury is still the focus on Madison and Fifth avenues, which proves that when it comes to upscale retailing, there can never be too much of good thing. Designers fill the landscape with their own stores (Tommy Hilfiger, Krizia, Calvin Klein, Sonia Rykiel, Bogner), and names and logos drive the business (Nautica, La Coste, Iceberg), many within blocks of major department stores.

* Mixed use, integrated retailing is also a trend in Manhattan. For instance, 57th Street used to be considered as a pure market - only for luxury goods. Now, it includes not only Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Escada, but also Swatch, Warners, Levis and Speedo. The renaissance taking place on West 42nd Street now brings such entertainment as the Victory Theater, the New Amsterdam, Madame Tussauds, AMC, and Marvel Comics, along with the other retailers which include many specialty restaurants, stores and entertainment giants.

* A mix of uses provide theme and entertainment that can also be seen on 34th Street, with the soon-to-open Disney, Warners, and Barnes & Noble joining HMV, The Limited Express, Structure, The Gap and Daffy's.

Simply stated, Manhattan retailing really does have it all!

(Garrick-Aug's Faith Hope Consolo can now be seen on the Internet, including the popular retail column, "The Faith Report, n and listings with color photographs of storefronts and recent news articles on the retail market. Her home page is: her e-mail address is
COPYRIGHT 1996 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Consolo, Faith Hope
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 8, 1996
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