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Heralding Change

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Crumbled remains of several half-century-old buildings between 30th and 31st Streets in the Herald Square shopping district of Manhattan are being swept away to make way for a new development described by its developers and marketers as a “beam of light.”

Located at 855 Avenue of the Americas (known as Sixth Avenue to New Yorkers), on the site of what until this past October were several multi-story office and retail buildings built in the late 1940s and ‘50s, a 655,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use project will “be a beam of light in the middle of Herald Square,” said Lori Shabtai, director of luxury and brand retail for New York City-based Winick Realty Group, the firm charged with marketing and leasing the retail space.

Designed by architects Costas Kondylis and Partners, and developed by 855 Realty Owner LLC, New York City, the 37-floor structure will house retail, a restaurant, and office and residential units. The new tower will be constructed with an all-glass frameless facade, providing millions of annual Herald Square pedestrians with sleek eye-candy in a sea of brick buildings.

What drew the developers to the property, according to Yitzchak Tessler, managing partner for 855 Realty Owner LLC, was “the prime location, and the unprecedented opportunity for state-of-the-art mixed-use green building.” The development, which will seek LEED-certification, will incorporate environmentally friendly materials and systems.

855 Avenue of the Americas

Location: 855 Sixth Ave. in Manhattan, between 30th and 31st Streets—one block south of Manhattan Mall in the Herald Square shopping district.Size: 655,000 sq. ft. on 37 floors, of which 240,000 sq. ft. will be retailDeveloper: 855 Realty Owner LLCArchitects: Costas Kondylis and Partners, LLPLeasing agent: Winick Realty Group, Jeff Winick. CEO, and Lori ShabtaiStatus: Demolition of the existing buildings is under way, with the new building completion date scheduled for first quarter 2010.

The project will be unveiled this month at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) 2007 New York National Conference and Deal Making event, at the Hilton New York & Towers. But the leasing efforts have already begun. According to Jeff Winick, CEO of Winick Realty, seven to eight floors of retail comprising about 240,000 sq. ft. will be designed to accommodate two major users, or multiple tenants of 20,000-sq.-ft. to 40,000-sq.-ft. footprints. “We are speaking to many department stores and big-box retailers, both within the United States and in Europe and Asia,” said Winick. “There is unprecedented demand for a flagship in Herald Square.” Other potential tenants include specialty stores, upscale supermarkets, movie theaters and health clubs.

Completion is slated for first quarter 2010.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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