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The Faith Consolo Team

Faith Hope Consolo
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New York, NY 10022
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In the News

In Boom Times, Barneys Seeks To Expand Enterprise

Barneys New York is close to scooping up space in the meatpacking district, amid the high-end retailer's transformation into an increasingly widespread fashion chain. A shop in the fashionable West Side neighborhood would be Barneys' second largest in New York City, sources say.

In addition to Barneys' Madison Avenue flagship, the 84-year-old retailer has three Barneys CO-OP stores, which offers a smaller, more casual selection of merchandise.

"They have been in the neighborhood looking for space," the sales agent for a recently vacated building on West 14th Street at Ninth Avenue, Karen Bellantoni, said.

Ms. Bellantoni, a senior vice president at Robert K. Futterman & Associates, said Barneys representatives have visited the fourstory structure and are interested in leasing all of its 60,000-plus square feet. The asking price for the 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space is $300 a square foot, Ms. Bellantoni said.

Barneys also has looked into other, smaller sites in the neighborhood, another retail broker said.

The retailer's Madison Avenue flagship is about 230,000 square feet, though many other flagships are significantly smaller. Barneys CO-OP stores range from 7,000 to 12,000 square feet, a company spokesman said.

While acknowledging that the retailer is in "expansion mode," a Barneys spokesman, who asked not to be identified, denied that a store is opening soon in the meatpacking district. He added that the company does not comment on the location of new stores until its parent company is ready to make a formal announcement.

But the chairman of the retail leasing and sales division of Prudential Douglas Elliman, Faith Consolo, said Barneys would be opening in the meatpacking district, and "insiders in the store are already buying for the company."

Ms. Consolo, who represented the owner of the Upper West Side building where a Barneys CO-OP opened in 2004, said Barneys would do for the meatpacking district what Bloomingdales did for SoHo — that is, act as the neighborhood's chief traffic-driver. "It's like a stamp of approval," she said.

The district is already home to a high-end retailer, Jeffrey NY, and a bevy of designer boutiques, including Stella McCartney and Carlos Miele.

In the 28 months since it was purchased by Jones Apparel Group, Barneys has been in expansion mode, launching flagship and CO-OP stores coast to coast. Barneys has increased the number of its CO-OP stores to 14, up from four. It also has opened new Barneys New York stores in Boston and Dallas, and will open San Francisco- and Las Vegas-based stores by next year — bringing its flagships to seven.

Jones Apparel Group is also the parent company of Jones New York, Nine West, and Anne Klein.

An earlier attempt to increase the number of Barneys stores in the 1990s has been linked to the financial woes that caused the retailer to declare bankruptcy in 1996. Several stores were shuttered in the years that followed. "This new wave of expansion of the company is quite different from that of different chapters in our history," a Barneys spokesman said.

More recently, Barneys has been able to gain a foothold among younger customers, who shop at Barneys CO-OP stores and buy selected items at its flagship stores. "Barneys is more insulated now than it was a decade ago," a retail management consultant, Mary Brett Whitfield, said. "The upscale market has been able to attract a more upper-middle market than it was in the past."

Ms. Whitfield said that as its chain of stores grows, Barneys must be careful to maintain "aspirational" brand identity, perhaps by selling some specialty products at a limited number of its retail locations. "There needs to be some exclusivity about it," she said.

A business consultant who said he has worked with the Jones Apparel Group on and off for about a decade, Emanuel Weintraub, urged tempered growth for Barneys. "The company has to be extremely sensitive to the economic environment," he said. "Luxury is driven by the ability to pay a price."

 

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