Lower Manhattan, once a retail desert punctuated by a single oasis — discounter Century 21 — has bloomed in recent years with the opening of hundreds of new stores. And that transformation shows few signs of slowing, according to the Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review for 2016, a new report from the Downtown Alliance. The square mile below Chambers Street is now home to 658 stores, the Alliance notes — a total that excludes restaurants, which would add another 512 names to the count.
Among the brands that appear likely to plant their flag Downtown in 2017 is Uniqlo, which is reportedly in late-stage discussions to lease 100,000 square feet in the landmarked former headquarters of J.P. Morgan and Company at 23 Wall Street, according to the Alliance report. Also headed to Lower Manhattan is discount department store Marshalls, which has leased 68,400 square feet in the former New York Telephone Building at 140 West Street (between Vesey and Barclay Streets).
In 2017, Saks Fifth Avenue will both expand its Brookfield Place presence with a new men’s store, and open a new, 55,000-square foot outpost of its discount branch, Saks Off 5th, in One Liberty Plaza, opposite Zuccotti Park. A few blocks to the north, art-inspired fashion store Anthropologie is coming to 195 Broadway, opposite the Fulton Center. And Milan-based 10 Corso Como (which features vendors that exhibit and sell works of art, fashion, music, design, cuisine and culture) will open its first American location in the South Street Seaport’s Fulton Market Building. Nearby, McNally Jackson Books and Dutch youth fashion retailer Scotch & Soda will open on Schermerhorn Row.
But the category of retail that Lower Manhattan residents are likely to appreciate most is the profusion of grocery stores coming soon to a corner near you. In addition to the recently announced plans for another Whole Foods location (opening at Broadway and Exchange Place in late 2018), City Acres Market plans to launch a 13,000-square foot grocery at 70 Pine Street, while Dean & Deluca will debut an 18,500-square foot gourmet food market at 40 Wall Street. Both are slated to open in mid-2017, according to the Alliance report.
The surge in retail development offsets another local trend, in which Lower Manhattan’s office market — following several years of strong leasing activity — “finally caught its breath in 2016 as part of the City-wide cool down,” the Alliance report notes.
“We just witnessed a milestone year for retail in Lower Manhattan, bringing one of the last key elements together in our transformation to a live, work and play neighborhood,” says Alliance President Jessica Lappin. “From restaurant and retail openings, to hotel and housing growth, to the City’s largest office lease deal of the year, Lower Manhattan was making headlines on a weekly basis. That momentum will continue through the early part of 2017, as we already see a number of major deals on the horizon.”
The mission of the Downtown Alliance, which produced the Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review report, is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. The Alliance also provides local security and trash pickup, as well as operating the business improvement district, or BID, that covers the area south of Chambers Street. Among the services provided by the Alliance that Lower Manhattan residents especially prize is Downtown Connection shuttle, which ferries passengers (free of charge) between 37 local stops that link residential areas neighborhoods with business and shopping districts, as part of a partnership with the Battery Park City Authority.