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Asian bankers expanding Koreatown boundaries

The local arm of one of Asia’s largest banks is relocating from the corner of Broadway and 31st Street – where its retail branch marked the edge of Koreatown – two blocks over to the other side of the small neighborhood.

Woori America Bank, a subsidiary of South Korean bank Woori Financial Group, has signed a lease for 25,000 s/f at Shulsky Properties’ 330 Fifth Avenue at 33rd Street, and will move from Jamestown Properties’ 1250 Broadway between 31st and 32nd Streets.

Photo by frankieleon/ Flickr
Photo by frankieleon/ Flickr

“With this move, the boundary of Koreatown expands to Fifth Avenue and beyond, with three Korean retail banks, Shinhan  Bank, BNB Hana Bank and Wilshire Bank located within blocks on Fifth Avenue,” said Soon H. Rhee of First New York Realty  Brokers LLC, who represented Woori America Bank with the brokerage’s president, Norman Bobrow.

Woori’s retail branch will be on the ground level of the 224,000 s/f building.

It will join a number of other Korean banks on Fifth Avenue, which marks the edge for the ethnic neighborhood characterized  by its concentration of karaoke bars and a vast variety of food options.

The neighborhood began pushing eastward a few years ago as low vacancy rates meant that retail tenants had to start looking outside the tight confines of 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue.

Woori had been at 1250 Broadway since 1982, when it bought its lease from American Savings Bank. Rhee also negotiated Woori America Bank’s lease buy out from American Savings Bank back in 1982.

“To achieve this flagship location we researched numerous locations over the past two years,” added Rhee. There were no other brokers involved in the deal that closed last month.

Woori America Bank New York branch is scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2015, according to Rhee, a broker who specializes in Korean banks.

She has also worked with Shinhan Bank, BNB Hana Bank and Wilshire Bank, who selected their sites through Rhee.

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