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Did Brookfield Win the Fidi Battle With Strategic Saks Stores?

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Rendering via <a href="">Brookfield Place</a>
Rendering via Brookfield Place

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After Wednesday's not-totally-unexpected news that Saks Fifth Avenue would be opening at Brookfield Place, heads immediately turned toward that other Financial District shopping complex, Westfield World Trade Center, which has yet to formally announce any tenants (though the rumor mill of who's taken space has been quite strong). It's been assumed that the two mega-developers have been duking it out to grab the top brands, and now WWD posits that it's not Saks Fifth Avenue, but Saks Off Fifth—headed to a different Brookfield property—that may be making potential tenants think twice about Westfield WTC.

While Saks Fifth Avenue will head to 225 Liberty Street in the spring of 2016, Saks Off Fifth will be opening at One Liberty Plaza in the fall of 2017 (after Brooks Brothers' current lease on that space expires). Along with Century 21 at Cortlandt Street, that'll put two off-price retailers right next to the World Trade Center.

"The battle for luxury tenants is over," an unnamed retail CEO told the paper. "Brookfield got all the luxury, and Westfield gets stuck with Century 21 and Saks Off 5th right at their front door."

Supposedly, mere rumors of the off-price department store deterred some big names from Westfield WTC. The shopping center "had deals lined up with Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford and Prada" for street-level flagship stores but "they supposedly walked away from those deals" when word first spread of Saks in the spring, said a real estate source. Louis Vuitton and Gucci were also allegedly interested in these two-story spaces.

"Luxury can't go next to outlets," the source added. "There's never been a precedent."

Now there's reports that Westfield WTC is no longer reaching for high-end and instead is in talks with H&M, Uniqlo and Forever 21. And while WWD makes that sound like a loss, it could have been part of their plan from the get-go.

Renderings of World Trade Center retail, via The Real Deal

The first names to come out of Westfield WTC earlier this month were admittedly upscale—along with the brands mentioned above, Tiffany & Co., Acne Studios, and The Kooples were also thrown around. But then The Real Deal published a list of 41 more stores who had allegedly already signed on, including Victoria's Secret, Asics, Lacoste, Bebe, and Aritzia. Beauty offerings like Sephora, L'Occitane, and Bobbi Brown were also in the mix, along with food like Godiva and Organic Avenue. There was even a Duane Reade included in there.

It might have been that, knowing Brookfield was going decidedly luxury with the likes of Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo, Diane von Furstenberg, Scoop NYC, Burberry, and several others, Westfield WTC planned on taking a different course of action much earlier on.

"Collectively, [Westfield and Brookfield] have got to have a broad array of stores, and not every one is going to be a luxury brand. Not everyone can afford a Brioni suit," Richard Hodos, executive vice president of commercial real estate firm CBRE Group, said at the time. "The fact that Westfield is going to have some moderately priced tenants is not a bad thing."

A rendering of the Oculus at Westfield WTC, via The Real Deal

"Westfield has expressed, in terms of their vision, more of a mix," Alliance of Downtown New York president Jessica Lappin told WWD this week. "For example, you can buy a luxury watch for you wife on your anniversary and go to a children's store and buy back-to-school clothes."

"The process of finalizing the retail mix at Westfield World Trade Center is well along, as the majority of the space is committed," a Westfield WTC spokesman said to the paper. "It includes the best global fashion and lifestyle brands ... It is a curated mix for the vast audience we will serve.

"We look forward to previewing our retail roster in the coming weeks and months," he added. WWD says they plan to open the doors to some shops in 2015.
· Brookfield Gains Edge With Saks Opening
· CONFIRMED: Saks Fifth Avenue, Off Fifth Headed to Fidi [Racked NY]
· Tracking the Financial District's Booming Retail Scene [Racked NY]

Saks Fifth Avenue

611 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10022 (212) 753-4000 Visit Website

Saks Fifth Avenue

225 Liberty Street New York, NY