The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is hoping to cash in on vacant retail spaces in the subway by attracting hip retailers to temporarily fill the empty spots.
A new program from the MTA will install‘pop up stores’ with short-term leases in spaces in the subway system that are temporarily vacant while the MTA is arranging long-term leases.
“Pop-up stores will provide a fresh and beneficial element to our stations while also improving the image and desirability of retail space in the subway,” said MTA chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.
“This is another example of the MTA working to make better use of its real estate portfolio and improving the subway environment for customers at the same time.”
The first pilot retail space opened last month in the Lorimer/Metropolitan station in Williamsburg. Called The Newsstand, it sells indie graphic novels and books.
The MTA’s in-house real estate department works with retailers on the short-term leases after putting out an RFP.
Last week, the first official store that is part of the program, clothing retailer UNIQLO, opened its 174 s/f space at the Union Square station. “We want to provide New Yorkers with the opportunity to shop for cold weather clothing in the subway before they have to head out into the winter weather,” said Larry Meyer, COO of UNIQLO USA.
Aaron Donovan, a spokesperson with the MTA, said the total square footage of retail space in the subway system is not available, but the agency will evaluate the retail spots on a “space by space basis as vacancies arise.”
Retailers are sprinkled throughout the subway system, most notably in larger stations like Port Authority, the Roosevelt Ave/Jackson Heights station in Queens, and 42nd Street at 8th Avenue.
However, not all stations will be part of the program, including 59th Street/Columbus Circle and Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan, said Donovan.
MTA real estate director Jeffrey B. Rosen said young people are gravitating to the subway as never before. “Retailers want to reach them where they are, which is our subway system. We are glad to be able to offer space in our stations.”