Manhattan’s retail scene is such a mixed bag as to defy generalization. The Real Estate Board of NY reports fewer available storefronts than last year and rising rents, but overall, conditions are all over the map.

For example, Soho and Upper Madison Avenue are strong while Broadway on the Upper West Side resembles a wasteland of vacant spaces.

One corridor that’s in excellent shape is often overlooked  — Fifth Avenue between East 14th and East 23rd Streets, which doesn’t enjoy the global profile of its Midtown counterpart.

The stretch is thriving with new leases and expansions. Newmark vice-chairman Ariel Schuster, a retail specialist for 20 years, represented either the tenant, landlord or both sides in 80% of recent deals.


Arc'teryx
Arc’teryx, which sells outdoor clothing and equipment, moved and expanded to 149 Fifth Ave. from 139 Fifth. NurPhoto via Getty Images

He said, “The majority of the world doesn’t realize how much leasing takes place on Lower Fifth Avenue.

“Some [occupancy] numbers there are better than in Soho. “The architecture on Lower Fifth is such that there’s more room for big stores.

“What tenants mostly care about is sales, and sales on Lower Fifth have always been strong. This is not an emerging market,” Schuster chuckled.


Aritzia
Women’s fashion line Aritzia is moving from 89 Fifth Ave. to a larger, three-level store at 115 Fifth Ave. Getty Images

He said the availability rate is a minuscule 5%, but asking rents — which can reach $400 per square foot — “vary a lot.”

Recent high-profile retail deals on Lower Fifth include:

  • Women’s fashion line Aritzia is moving from 89 Fifth Ave. to a larger, three-level store at 115 Fifth Ave. With 15,000 square feet, it’s the largest of the new leases.
  • Midsole-cushioned shoes specialist Hoka signed a long-term lease at 172 Fifth Ave. after a test location at 142 did well.
  • Finnish-owned Arc’teryx, which sells outdoor clothing and equipment, moved and expanded to 149 Fifth Ave. from 139 Fifth.
  • Women’s casual sportswear chain Madewell tripled its space at 156 Fifth Ave.
  • Rothy’s, which sells trendy men’s and women’s shoes, is opening a new outpost at 134 Fifth Ave.
  • Buck Mason just opened its largest Manhattan store for its menswear collection at 170 Fifth Ave.
  • “Athleisure” brand Vuori is taking the former All Saints location at 120 Fifth Ave., the Commercial Observer reported.

“All these transactions took place over the past 12 to 15 months in this one submarket,” Schuster said.

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