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NEW YORK CITY-A block from the hub of midtown, piano music adds a mixer ambiance to the 101 Club where guests gather for the Real Estate Board of New York’s 2008 Retail Deal of the Year Awards. The annual sponsored event and cocktail party allowed the upper echelon of the New York retail to clink glasses, raising their drinks to the two winners picked from 13 submissions.

Each deal, notes the invitation, is chasing an award which will honor which deal “most significantly benefited the Manhattan retail market” or the most creative retail deal. The event was sponsored by Cushman & Wakefield, Winick Realty Group, Jack Rsenick & Sons, Inc., W&M Properties, Robert K. Futterman & Associates, Vornado Realty Trust, CB Richard Ellis and Crain’s New York Business.

Joanne Podell, chairperson of REBNY’s retail committee hushed the gathered crowd and introduced Robin Abrams, EVP at The Lansco Corp. Abrams is a REBNY retail committee member and one of the judges for the awards. She listed the 13 submissions for the award and, of course, the winners. Officially, the Most Significantly Benefits Manhattan went to the leasing of Spanish retailer Zara at 500 5th Ave. brokered by Harry F. Blair and Clifford F. Molloy of FirstService Williams.

Abrams noted that the deal was chosen for putting together all the space occupied by Zara, which would change the dynamic of that area and move the boundary farther south bringing other retailers south of 49th Street. Reports note that the deal was done at the beginning of the year, putting the Spain-based retailer into three floors of space, two for retail and one for storage on the highly visible corner.

The Most Creative Retail Deal of the Year Award, meanwhile, went to the leasing of the former Gucci flagship at 685 Fifth Ave. to Diesel, worked out by Cushman & Wakefield. As it is said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and so went C&W’s creativity which came in the form of not openly marketing the space at all. The unique property brought about complications which required some innovative solutions, James Downey from C&W, told GlobeSt.com. <p<"The rent was going to be high," he explained, adding the property was on a prominent corner and was the North American headquarters of Gucci. For that space in that area, Downey noted, there were "50 logical users of space," which not only could move into the space but were alternately non-competitors of Gucci. Cushman decided to market only to a few select bidders and give a "21-day timetable" for when all bids were due, Downey explained, and most importantly they didn't set an asking price, since "everyone knows what it's going to be worth." Downey told GlobeSt.com that it took them roughly five months to move the 20,000 square feet of prime real estate.

The 13 submissions were as follows, in no particular order:

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