New York landmarked buildings become must-haves for retailers

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New York landmarked buildings become must-haves for retailers
The historic Villard Mansion on Madison Avenue // © Buck Ennis
New York landmarked buildings become must-haves for retailers
The historic Villard Mansion on Madison Avenue // © Buck Ennis

Cookie-cutter is out; historic is in. The city’s landmarked sites, which increasingly stand out in an ever-vertical glass and steel landscape, are seeing an uptick in interest from retailers looking to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.

Apple, in Grand Central Terminal and in a landmarked building in SoHo, may be the biggest example of a retailer that seeks historic spaces to show its wares. But popular e-commerce brands like Trunk Club and Warby Parker are following, choosing to overlook the challenges and extra costs associated with leasing landmarked buildings in order to open a store that doesn’t look like the one next door. It’s a hefty gamble, though. Renting a landmarked space can tack on months to a build-out and cost millions more. Yet at a time when shoppers crave uniqueness, retailers appear willing to take the chance.

Developers, meanwhile, sense opportunity. In June, Madison Realty Capital paid $20.4 million for the marble- and limestone-filled retail condo at the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower in Brooklyn. The 41,400-square-foot space is landmarked on the inside and out. The price was high for a property that only recently housed a flea market. Yet landing the likes of Apple could yield dividends. []

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