Nearly four years after Nordstrom announced plans for its first full-line store in Manhattan, the Seattle retailer revealed the footprint and exterior design of its New York City flagship. The 363,000-square-foot store in the Columbus Circle neighborhood of midtown Manhattan is expected to open in 2019.
It encompasses four properties along Broadway between West 57th and West 58th streets, including existing historic buildings and new construction, according to a Nordstrom news release. The new construction will be at the base of Central Park Tower, developed by Extell Development Co. The interiors of three of the properties will be connected, while the fourth will be across Broadway and will house the Nordstrom Men’s store. The exterior of the new construction will feature “unique seven-level glass waveforms facades,” intended to catch the light and its changes as the sun’s angles shift, according to Nordstrom. That exterior will be created by James Carpenter Design Associates.
For Nordstrom, a full-line flagship store in Manhattan has been a long time coming. The company has full-line clothing stores in New Jersey as well as Long Island and upstate New York, and numerous Nordstrom Rack off-price stores throughout the state, including one in Manhattan. But reportedly, New York’s high rent prices and the company’s needs, including a particular configuration and loading-dock space, have kept the Seattle retailer from opening a full-scale store in America’s fashion capital. Nordstrom has not said how much it is spending on its Manhattan store. In its five-year capital plan running through 2019, it included a five-year estimate of $1.1 billion for both the Manhattan store and expansion into Canada. Reports have placed real-estate costs at about $102 million and total cost, including fees, at about $110 million.
Some people have been “writing Nordstrom off prematurely, saying it paid top price at the top of the market,” said Burt Flickinger, retail analyst with Strategic Research Group. But Flickinger thinks Nordstrom will succeed.
Though it faces competition from established department stores nearby, those stores have challenges of their own. Bergdorf Goodman is undercapitalized, while Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylor are just beginning to come back from being underfunded, Flickinger believes.
“It’s a perfect time for Nordstrom to capitalize on those issues,” he said. The demographics in New York City are also “as good or better” as in Seattle, Vancouver or San Francisco in terms of those Nordstrom hopes to attract: aspirational, middle- to high-income and fashion-forward shoppers, Flickinger said. Its Columbus Circle location is easily accessible from across the city and the suburbs, while it’s also close to the Upper West Side where there’s a growing number of families, he said.
The Manhattan flagship store will likely play a key part in the growth of the 115-year-old retailer, which has been expanding both nationally and internationally. It opened its first full-line store in Canada in Calgary in 2014, followed by openings in Ottawa and Vancouver, with plans to open three stores in Toronto this year and next.
The Manhattan store is “an opportunity for Nordstrom to really expand the beachhead in its eastern empire, and arguably the most important part of its North American growth plan,” Flickinger said. With the many tourists from Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere who visit New York City each year, “there’s an opportunity for Nordstrom to really use New York as a launchpad to consider potentially expanding into Europe,” he said.
Nordstrom currently operates 121 full-line stores in the U.S. and Canada and 194 Nordstrom Racks, as well as a bustling online operation. The company expects to have 300 Rack stores by 2020.