Real-Estate

Vornado Lines Up Grocer for Astor Place Kmart Space

Vornado CEO Steve Roth and 770 Broadway (Getty, Vornado)

The Astor Place Kmart, which abruptly closed last week, is set to be replaced by a grocery store, The Real Deal has learned.

Manhattan’s last-standing Kmart, at 770 Broadway, closed Sunday after landlord Vornado Realty Trust reached an agreement with Kmart parent Transformco to terminate its long-term triple-net lease in order to bring in a “first-class regional grocer,” according to sources familiar with the matter.

The transaction was a joint negotiation among Transformco, Vornado and the new tenant, sources said. The regional grocer that will be taking over the NoHo location has not been disclosed.

The Kmart opened in November 1996 after the retailer signed an initial lease of more than 145,000 square feet to occupy three floors of the building, according to public records. In 2018, Vornado paid Kmart $46 million to shrink its footprint into two floors — the ground floor and the basement — to make the higher floor available to Facebook, which now is one of the major office tenants in the building. According to sources, this reduced KMart’s existing store size to 86,000 square feet, with about 26,000 square feet at street level and 60,000 square feet in the basement.

Nationwide foot traffic to grocery stores in the second quarter was up more than 12 percent compared to a year ago, as shoppers resumed their pre-pandemic grocery shopping pattern, according to mobile-device location data from analytics firm Placer.ai.

Grocery retailers are vying for shoppers’ attention by opening up new stores.

Those in growth mode include Amazon-owned Whole Foods, which announced in May that it plans to open more than 40 new stores, according to media reports. The e-commerce giant is also growing its Amazon Fresh brand, with at least 28 additional brick-and-mortar stores in the pipeline, Bloomberg reported in May.

Major regional grocers include Wegmans — which opened its first New York City location in Brooklyn in 2019 and has been offering grocery delivery to Manhattan residents with the help of Instacart — as well as city mainstays such as Gristedes, Fairway, Food Emporium, Key Food, D’Agostino and Western Beef.

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