There comes a time for every successful pioneer when they look around and realize they’re not on the frontier anymore.
So it was for the Heller Gallery, a tenant for ten years at 420 West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District.
The gallery, which specializes in glass sculpture, has announced it is blazing new ground once again, moving to the retail space in Atlantic Development Group’s newly constructed 303 10th Avenue on the northern edge of the Chelsea gallery district.
The running shoe and athletic wear retailer Asics will be taking its place on 14th Street, according to a source familiar with the deals.
Rents on the western stretch of 14th Street — also home to the upscale clothing retailer Jeffrey — have skyrocket in recent years, as the neighborhood has completed its transition from blood-soaked industrial use to a 24-hour shopping and nightlife destination.
“The energy is just very different than what it was when they first pioneered the neighborhood,” said Kelly Gedinsky of Winick, who represented the Heller Gallery.
Some of Heller’s early neighbors, including Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, have already left 14th Street for other locations in Manhattan. Asics will fit right in among the block’s more recent tenants, which include the athletic apparel store Lulu Lemon and Patagonia.
Faith Hope Consolo of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group compared the ongoing shift in the Meatpacking district to a change she’s seen in SoHo in the recent past — artists and galleries start in an area that becomes a shopping destination, and ultimately the area becomes too pricy for all but national and international brands. “It is all about the rent,” Consolo wrote in an email.
According to Gedinsky, asking rent at 420 West 14th at the end of Heller’s lease was $328 psf. Gedinsky declined to comment on the report that Asics is taking over the space. Trevor Gallina of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented Asics.
The Heller Gallery is pioneering again in its new location, on the northern edge of the completed portions of the High Line Park, not far from the newly-opened Hotel Americano. Asking rent was $85 psf in the gallery’s new space, Gedinsky said.
The broker scouted two neighborhoods for the gallery’s new home: Tribecca and what she described as “the emerging High Line district.”
“I walked up Tenth Avenue, basically from 23rd Street to 30th,” she said.
Foot traffic from the elevated park, which has an entrance on 30th Street, is already driving the area’s transformation.
“It’s becoming sort of a cool night-life juxtaposed with art and galleries area,” she said. “There are so many people that walk the High Line at all hours of the day. It’s a big tourist attraction, and tourists like to shop for art.”
And with a new subway station and the office buildings in the works for Hudson Yards just to the north, the gallery is likely to have found a happy home — at least until its next lease renewal.