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NEW YORK CITY-Japanese apparel retailer Uniqlo has signed a lease for an 89,340-square-foot flagship store at 666 Fifth Ave., its parent company Fast Retailing Co. announced Monday. The space, which will be the brand’s largest worldwide, is believed to set a record for retail rents at $300 million over 15 years.

The deal had been rumored for months since the New York Post reported last June that the Tokyo-based Fast Retailing might be interested in the former Brooks Brothers space for its second Manhattan store. Its current outpost here, at 546 Broadway, is less than half the size of the forthcoming 666 Fifth space at 36,000 square feet. The new location will also be more than twice as large as a Shanghai flagship that was announced earlier this month.

Cushman & Wakefield executive director C. Bradley Mendelson represented the property’s ownership, 666 Fifth Retail Associates, in lease negotiations. Mendelson says in a statement, “”By buying out the Brooks Brothers lease and buying the Hickey Freeman lease from bankruptcy, the ownership of 666 Fifth Ave. was able to assemble the most valuable retail opportunity in New York. Executing this strategy showed a prescient confidence in Fifth Avenue that has proven more than right.” The ownership is a joint venture of Crown Acquisitions and the Carlyle Group that bought a controlling interest in 666 Fifth’s retail portion from the Kushner Cos. for $525 million in 2008.

Executing the 666 Fifth lease will give Uniqlo visibility in one of the world’s most recession-proof retail corridors, says Crown Acquisitions’ Stanley Chera. “The occupancy level on Fifth Avenue has been almost 100% throughout the most difficult environment,” Chera says in a release. “Retailers who make the commitment to Fifth Avenue uniformly experience their highest gross sales in those stores. Yes, the rents are high, but the returns are great in terms of revenue and exposure to more than 40 million tourists and other shoppers each year.”

Published reports say the 666 Fifth space will contain a sales area, offices and storage, and is not expected to open until next year. It includes more than 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 83,000 square feet on upper levels. Fast Retailing opened the 527 Broadway Uniqlo location in November 2006. The company was founded in 1984 and has nearly 900 locations worldwide.

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