Google Searches for Space in NYC’s Soho for Retail Store

Google Inc. has been prowling Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood in search of a location for its first stand-alone retail outlet, according to a local real estate broker.

The search-engine company, which has expanded its reach into smartphones, computerized eyewear and laptops, is considering leasing at 131 Greene St., said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The property is around the corner from Apple Inc.’s first New York store, on Prince Street. Google may be looking at other locations as well, according to Consolo, who said she showed company representatives retail space elsewhere.

“Google has been looking in Soho for a long time,” she said in a telephone interview. “They want to be near Apple, and they’ve been concentrating on Greene Street. There are different streets that are in vogue, that have become hot, and it’s just now that Greene Street has become the street in Soho.”

Google, which has seen rivals Apple and Microsoft Corp. push into shopping malls across the country, is stepping up efforts to reach more consumers with its hardware and services. Late last year the Mountain View, California-based company opened showrooms in six U.S. cities to promote its latest products during the busy holiday season.

Leslie Miller, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment on a possible New York store.

Ascot Properties NYC controls 131 Greene, according to the company’s website. A call to Lucky Bhalla, a principal at Ascot, wasn’t immediately returned. Crain’s New York Business reported yesterday that Google was close to signing a lease at the building.

‘Downtown Vibe’

About 8,200 square feet (760 square meters) of store space is available to rent at 131 Greene, according to real estate website Propertyshark. Greene Street has attracted such luxury retailers as Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton in a neighborhood that has seen steady growth in upscale shopping, Consolo said.

“Google has a downtown vibe anyway, but wherever they go it would be exciting,” she said. “I believe if they went to the middle of the river, people would go there, but why not be in the center of everything?”

Soho ground-floor retail rents increased 41 percent to an average of $762 a square foot in the 12 months through September, according to a report late last year by the Real Estate Board of New York. That was the highest of any shopping district south of Midtown.

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