No place is more resilient than The Bronx. After years of online shopping threatened the existence of bricks and mortar retailing, the pandemic was a knockout blow for several national chains with a local presence. However, a recent rebirth has seen large spaces vacated by bankrupt companies get acquired by thriving national retailers building their presence in America’s third most densely populated county. Beyond the malls and power centers, local shopping corridors throughout the borough are enjoying low vacancies and record rents.
The remaining K Marts and Modells have closed, as JC Penny hangs on after its landlords rescued the company from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Target, Marshalls, Burlington, At Home, and Dick’s Sporting Goods are expanding with similar product lines in some of the same spaces. New housing developments require grocery stores and other supporting retailers that are moving in to take advantage of the fastest growing county in New York State. Many of the available leases are on the ground floor of new developments in neighborhoods with improving demographics.
Local shopping districts that serve the less dense neighborhoods are also enjoying vibrant foot traffic and low vacancies. Restaurants, banks, and personal care providers like eyeglasses and nail salons, are filling some recent leases, although sometimes it seems like only laundromats and tattoo parlors are opening.
Anything produced on earth is available in New York City, and you can get most of it in The Bronx. So, whatever is lightening your wallet this holiday season, you can probably find it here.
The Bronx Terminal Market is a great example of the resilient local retail sector. Opened by Mayor LaGuardia in 1935 a few blocks south of Yankee Stadium, it was a place for the produce pushcart vendors to supply and store their carts. It evolved into a flea market and became a burden to the city, which was going to demolish it before the merchants formed a group and took control in 1972. Related Companies bought their interest in 2004 and opened the current 900ksf shopping mall in 2009.
Original tenants like Home Depot and BJ’s have thrived while others like Bed Bath & Beyond, and Toys R Us haven’t. The latter’s space was taken over by Food Bazaar, who’s operating and expanding. Plenty of parking, dining and attractions like The Hip Hop Museum make it a full service shopping mall. You can even take courses at CUNY Hostos.
The Bronx’s second oldest shopping center is New York City’s largest, opened on the opposite north east side after Co-Op City sucked the middle class out of the borough’s inner neighborhoods. The Bay Plaza Shopping Center has turned out to be a higher and better use than the defunct Freedomland USA amusement park that occupied the almost 100 acre site prior to 1987. It’s within walking distance to more than 15,000 middle class households in Co-Op City and its location along I95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway makes it an easy drive from the rest of the metropolitan area. Several national retailers cite it as their most profitable square footage.
The power center hosts some of those national names while pad sites host home goods and personal care retailers like At Home and Sephora. Staples and Shake Shack always seem to be busy on their pads. The fashion mall opened in 2014 and expanded the complex to 2 million total square feet. Anchored by Macy’s and JC Penny, Kay Jewelers beat out Tiffany, but Apple secured their space on the ground floor. The Bronx has a half point higher sales tax than Westchester but you can make that up with free parking, or pay to park protected from the weather.
Triple digit rents in the power center are the highest in The Bronx while mall space can be had in the low $50s, similar to rates in The Bronx Terminal market, according to Costar estimates.
Into the Neighborhoods
The Bronx’s other major power center at Bruckner Commons on White Plains Road also comes in above our Gold benchmark with spaces advertised from $50 to $100 per sf.
This is where Target announced their latest Bronx expansion, leasing a 139ksf former K Mart along Bruckner Boulevard with easy access to the Expressway. Their press release mentioned 700,000 households within 3 miles and 80,000 cars driving by each day, usually going around 12 mph.
Some other Bronx success stories like Burlington, Five Below, Marshalls and ShopRite share the neighborhood with Old Navy, Gap, T Mobile, Smashburger and others. About a half mile walk to the Parkchester 6 train but several bus routes converge on the shopping district.
If you’re like most Bronxites and don’t drive, then you probably like to shop at The Hub on your way home from work. If you do drive, leave your car at home and take the 2 or the 5 train to the 3rd Ave & 149th St subway station, the last before the lines emerge onto the elevated tracks.
You’ll emerge into the beating heart of the Boogie Down Bronx, energized by the hustle and bustle of 50,000 daytime employees within a one mile radius. You’ll be glad to not be in one of the ten to fifteen thousand cars that pass slowly through The Hub each day. Tight storefronts along 149th Street, Third Ave, and Melrose Ave are mostly occupied with clothing and cell phone stores, restaurants, banks, and various national brands sprinkled among the mom and pop merchants plying their wares.
Some advertised rents in the high double digits may not be realistic as most in the district are in line with our Silver benchmark. Bargains can be found below $40 but don’t expect much of a build out. Higher end spaces are available in some new mixed use construction in the neighborhood.
For the Finest Feast
Chefs shop The Bronx at Hunts Point and the rest of us are lucky enough to have Little Italy on Arthur Avenue to fulfill all our gourmet needs. Nowhere else in the metropolitan area has such a dense diversity of top quality foods. Fresh bread, produce, seafood, butchers, cheese, pasta, coffee, pastries, cigars, wines and liquors, and anything else you need for your Thanksgiving feast can be found in these few blocks. Or come to enjoy some of The Bronx’s finest restaurants.
A steady stream of Fordham students support the neighborhood that also thrives on politicians, celebrities, and tourists coming for a taste of good Bronx living. Spaces don’t vacate very often in such a lively market. That doesn’t mean you need to pay triple digits like someone did recently on neighboring Hughes Avenue. Another space on the main Arthur Avenue stretch leased in October after being advertised for $60/sf Net.
When you can’t find parking in Little Italy, you can find other fine food purveyors at the shopping districts around Crosby Ave, Morris Park and Riverdale. Lower rents between our Bronze and Silver benchmarks leave room for lower prices for you. A great advantage of living in such a dense environment is the ability to buy whatever you want or need close by. There are special gems throughout the borough so please patronize the hard workers who add so much to our communities. Please use the comments section below to share your favorite things to buy in The Bronx.
Operators and investors have been transacting Bronx retail properties at record volumes and valuations in recent years, supported by continued expansion of the housing stock. A slowing pace of planned retail expansion should support current rents as retailers find fewer opportunities to take advantage of persistent population growth in The Bronx.
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