On June 12, 2018, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) hosted the 20th Annual Retail Deal of the Year Awards Cocktail Party at Club 101 in Midtown Manhattan. At the event, REBNY presented Cushman & Wakefield’s Kenji Ota and Neil Seth with the Most Significant Retail Deal of the Year Award for their work representing iconic toy brand, FAO Schwarz in their 24,000 square-foot lease at Tishman Speyer’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
The winning deal, titled “Toy Story 2.0 – How FAO Schwarz was relaunched to the Big Apple at Rockefeller Center” was recognized as the most meaningful transaction of 2017 for its overall characteristics and its importance to the New York City retail market.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Steven Soutendijk serves as REBNY’s retail committee co-chair and presented the prestigious award to his fellow colleagues. He shared, “this transaction represents the rebirth of an iconic brand, one that may have been knocked down a few pegs thanks to Walmart and Amazon, but who the judges were convinced would use a brick-and-mortar flagship to make this chain relevant again.”
FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy store retailer in the United States, and was an iconic brick-and-mortar retailer in Manhattan for locals and tourists alike until its 5th Avenue flagship closed in 2015 due to rent inflation. The brand will open its new flagship location this fall next to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree—the perfect location for this timeless brand.
Soutendijk also noted during the ceremony, “most deals considered for this award are deemed significant because they help revitalize or rejuvenate the neighborhood. This deal is significant because of the tenant not the location.”
In Kenji and Neil’s submission, they wrote, “At a time when everyone was subscribing to the demise of retail, the news of one of New York’s most beloved brands coming back to New York City at Rockefeller Center made even the most skeptical “real estate retail experts” believe that New York City retail was turning the corner for the better. If there was ever such a thing as an ideal marriage of a store and location, this might have been it!”
This is the second win for Kenji Ota as he also won the 2016 Most Significant Retail Deal of the Year Award in last year’s competition.