Jennifer Furniture is the latest high-profile retailer to pitch its tent on booming Sixth Avenue — the retail corridor that we described as Manhattan’s strongest, despite having a low profile, in a column two weeks ago.
Previously known as Jennifer Convertibles, Jennifer Furniture — which now sells “affordable” products for every room in the home — has signed a lease for nearly 10,000 square feet in the O’Neill Building, the 1897-vintage landmark at 655 Sixth Ave. between West 20th and 21st streets.
What makes it more interesting is that most of the selling area — 8,500 square feet — will be in underground space never before used for a store. Jennifer’s sidewalk-level “footprint” will be in a 900-square-foot, midblock space previously occupied by eyewear shop Optyx.
The Laboz family’s United American Land owns the building’s roughly 15,000-square-foot retail condominium (upper floors are luxury apartments, one of which was once owned by “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay).
Although it isn’t uncommon for large Manhattan stores to have most of their selling space below grade, Jennifer — which was founded in New York in the 1970s but today is a subsidiary of Chinese furniture-manufacturer Mengnu Group — apparently needed reassurance.
Boutique tenant-rep firm J.W. Burke & Company, headed by Jonathan Burke, brokered the O’Neill Building deal.
UAL co-principal Jack Laboz said, “Jonathan showed Jennifer’s team [menswear store] DXL Destination a few blocks away to show them how viable a basement selling space is.”
Burke noted that Jennifer is “now spreading their wings and boasting a full complement of stylist furniture encompassing the living room, the bedroom, and beyond.”
He said the new store will be Jennifer’s flagship when it opens on July 4 weekend, replacing a smaller store at 902 Broadway that will close. Jennifer has 20-odd stores in the tristate area but only one other in Manhattan, on West 125th Street.
Laboz added of the O’Neill space, “We never used the basement to its maximum capacity. There were no utilities down there. The former Optyx space was perfect for us to connect it to the basement,” which will be accessed by a grand staircase and an ADA-compliant elevator.
Laboz said the asking rent on the lower-level space was $60 a square foot, or $510,000 a year — “a favorable rent for both the landlord and the tenant,” Burke said.
The O’Neill Building stands amidst Sixth Avenue’s thriving “Ladies’ Mile” that’s home to such stores as Bed Bath & Beyond, Burlington and Marshalls.