Not long ago, major fashion brands were willing to pay ballooning rents just to have a store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Now the world-famous shopping strip has transformed into a battleground between landlords and tenants seeking a way out of pricey leases.
It’s a side effect of the pandemic that’s plagued New York for more than a year. The foreign tourists who were Fifth Avenue’s lifeblood before the lockdown are gone. So, for the most part, are the office workers who might have stopped at a store while hustling by. Boarded-up spaces and “For Rent” signs are multiplying.
The few merchants looking to sign new leases are demanding deep discounts. Some that have been there all along — such as the National Basketball Association, Valentino and Marc Fisher — are embroiled in legal battles with their landlords over unpaid rent.
Along a roughly 20-block stretch of Fifth Avenue, the handful