34th Street

34th Street district hungry for upscale restaurants

March 8, 2006
Real Estate Weekly

The 34th Street district boasts some of the highest commercial rents in the city and has, in just the last five years, attracted some of the biggest names in retailing, including Victoria's Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, Forever 21 and Zale's. But according to the 34th Street Partnership, the business improvement district responsible for the area's revitalization, the lack of upscale restaurants continues to be a sticking point.

But officials of the Partnership, which stretches from Park Avenue to 10th Avenue, say it's only a matter of time before more "white tablecloth" restaurateurs discover the area's potential. "There are already positive signs," says Dan Biederman, the Partnership's president. Biederman points to the scheduled opening later this year of Artemis, a cavernous upscale Greek restaurant which will front Broadway in the Holiday Inn Martinique. Add to that recent opening of Stout, a 17,000 square foot pub-style establishment at 133 W. 33rd St.

In addition, the district has seen an influx of large corporate tenants, including ad giants Publicis and Foote Cone & Belding, as well as major media such as the Daily News and Thirteen/WNET and Associated Press.

"It's the executives and employees of these types of companies that find the dearth of upscale restaurants a bit unnerving," adds Biederman. "And our research shows that the area's residents, shoppers, tourists and event-goers share similar frustrations."

To achieve its goal of attracting more tony eateries, the Partnership has created a special restaurant committee which meets regularly to plan strategies and to evaluate its progress. The goal is lure at least a dozen new restaurants within the next few years. At the ICSC's 2005 New York Conference & Deal Marking event, Dan Pisark, the partnership's vice president for retail services, and his staff answered questions from brokers and property owners. They also distributed a colorful brochure extolling the 34th Street district's attributes: the rapid increase in residential construction, the corporate presence, the impending development of the Moynihan Station, and the electromagnetic force of such institutions as the Empire State Building, Macy's and Madison Square Garden. According to Pisark, some street corner pedestrian counts are as a high as 10,000 an hour.

"We think it's only a matter of time before more restaurants recognize the opportunities that exist in the 34th Street district" says Pisark. "We have no doubt we'll attract the savviest restaurateurs."