Mogull reps Aspinal of London, BankUnited & STK

The retail recovery continued unabated in 2011. Rents strengthened in most areas and 50 million tourists swarmed in to shop alongside New Yorkers. "Last year was a whirlwind and the best re tail rebound in three years," says Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Prudential Douglas Elliman. "The shopping for space continues and has gotten more competitive. The rents are almost back to their highs." Consolo is so concerned that her tenants win coveted spaces that she admits to having a half dozen offers out, from Madison Ave. to the Meatpacking District, that are 20 percent over the asking rents. Kim Mogull, president and CEO of Mogull Realty Inc., exclusively represents a large portfolio of retail tenants, from restaurants such as STK to banks like BankUnited and high-e nd luxury goods like Aspinal of London. Mogull has done deals and has offers out throughout the city, but says she is not submitting offers above the ask. "In addition to an increase in demand, a cont ributing factor to the narrowing gap between offers and ask may be the fact that landlords have become mo re realistic, and are pricing their spaces at numbers closer to where they want to c onclude the transaction," she says. "I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in London, where there is no shortage of tenants seeking to capitalize on New Yorkers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for high-end goods," says Mogull. “There remains no better place in America to expand or launch a brand than the densest island in the United States — Manhattan." Many global retailers are seeing the positive year-over-year sales reports from NYC and packing their bags. Haim Chera, a principal with Crown Acquisition, says, "They invest their CapX, which is limited, where they will get the increase in returns. The rising rents [in the city] are justified by sales because of the 50 million tourists, diverse economy and 365 days of buyers." The leasing impact has also propelled investments in retail condominiums, including some by institutional investors, such as RREEF’s purchase of a 16,742-square-foot condo at 473-475 Broadway, leased to Scoop NYC, and a $34 million deal for 11,862 square feet at 415 W 13th St., leased to All Saints. Last year, Crown and partners in the entire retail condo portion of 666 Filth Ave., Kushner Companies and the Carlyle Group bought out the NBA store and sold a 38,750-square-foot piece to Spanish retailer Inditex Group, parent of Zara, for what public records show as $331.66 million, equating to a record $8,559 per square foot. Also last year, ]eff Sutton and SL Green Realty Corp. bought the four-story landmarked 1552 Broadway then cut a deal with ]eff Gural for a 70-year lease on the lower portions of Gural’s neighboring 1560 Broadway to create a 42,000—square-foot spread with more than 100 feet of frontage on Broadway and175 feet on 46th St. Sutton, SLG and Harel Insurance also paid about $65 million for a 9,800—square-foot retail condominium at 747 Madison, leased to high-end fashion retailer Valentino. A yen to shop can also be seen in the boroughs where Crown Acquisitions principal Ike Chera is also tasked with shopping for retail properties. “The challenge now is that property owners are not willing to sell because they don’t have a place to put their money," Chera says. In Yonkers, where Forest City is developing Ridge Hill, 16 large anchors are open and thriving. Kathryn Welch, senior vice president of Forest City’s retail group, says that the group already has 600,000 square feet leased and another 300,000 square feet of smaller tenants to go. "We’re not getting Manhattan rents, but we are happy;" she says. In Manhattan, Forest City also completed a 25,000-square-foot deal at 42nd St. with Famous Dave’s BBQ, represented by Andrew A. Pittel.