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Tiffany, Hermes are opening lower Manhattan outposts
19 June 2007

NEW YORK (AP) - The world-famous jeweler Tiffany & Co., which got its start in lower Manhattan 170 years ago, is going back home. It is opening a Wall Street store in October, joining other luxury stores opening financial district outposts.

The high-end retailers, including BMW and Hermes, which is opening a store near the New York Stock Exchange this week, say they want to participate in the post-Sept. 11 revitalization of lower Manhattan -- and they want a presence where there are people with money.

"The timing seems right because of the fact that there is such a renaissance evolving downtown," said Beth Canavan, Tiffany's executive vice president.

The conversion of Wall Street from an afterwork wasteland to a 24-hour neighborhood was already under way when the World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001. Once downtown Manhattan began to recover from the terror attacks, conversions of commercial space to luxury apartments picked up again.

"Today with the many residential conversions of these fabulous old buildings," Canavan said, "there are so many people moving into downtown it's becoming a seven-day-a-week place to live, work and enjoy."

According to a survey released this month by the Alliance for Downtown New York, the growth in residential development since Sept. 11, 2001, has added 17,800 residents to the area below Chambers Street, and the median annual household income in the neighborhood is a hefty $241,967 (euro180,532).

"This is the perfect fertile ground for high-end retailers," said Valerie Lewis, the alliance's vice president for marketing.

Hermes, the Paris-based luxury-goods emporium, is opening a store on Broad Street across from the stock exchange this Thursday. As with Tiffany, the new store will be just the company's second in New York.

"We had always contemplated a second location somewhere in New York City," said Robert Chavez, president of Hermes USA. "As we started to read about the things that were happening in lower Manhattan we just decided that we wanted to be at the forefront of the revitalization of the financial district."

BMW opened a Wall Street showroom in 2005, and the high-end men's stores Hickey Freeman and Thomas Pink have recently opened downtown. Upscale organic supermarket Whole Foods is opening on Warren Street, a few blocks north of the trade center site, early next year.

Jeff Falk, president of BMW Manhattan, said opening the downtown showroom "was a strategy that allowed us to make ourselves more convenient to the financial community."

He said sales at the Wall Street location grew 26 percent from the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2007, which exceeded expectations.

Tiffany held a news conference at its flagship Fifth Avenue store on Tuesday to announce $3 million (euro2.24 million) in grants to three groups that work to preserve and restore the environment in downtown Manhattan.

"In supporting organizations committed to protecting the area's natural beauty and celebrated monuments, we help to create a green space in an urban environment that will serve all who live and work in lower Manhattan and the millions of tourists who annually visit this historic area," said Michael Kowalski, a member of the board of directors of the Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

He noted that Tiffany, which moved to its Fifth Avenue store in midtown in 1940, was founded on lower Broadway in 1837. (The first day's sales totaled $4.98.)

The Tiffany and Hermes downtown stores will carry most of the same merchandise as the retailers' midtown stores, but in keeping with Wall Street demographics there will be an emphasis on their men's divisions.

At Hermes, Chavez said, "the first thing you see when you walk in is a large tie wall."
 
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