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Industry finds home at 230 Fifth Avenue

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, December 11, 2000

NEW YORK -The home textiles industry may be migrating south-south of 261 Fifth Avenue, actually, to 230 Fifth.

With 261 Fifth's recent change of management as well as rent increases, some home textiles tenants there have been looking for new space and have recently found it in 230 Fifth, allowing them to stay in the same vicinity, which includes another textiles building, 295 Fifth.

"A lot of people are looking for a new home and we're the logical place," said Elise Fishman, executive director of 230 Fifth Avenue. "We're trying to grab that segment."

The building has historically housed luxury linen manufacturers on the 19th floor, which now includes Anichini, Palais Royal, Ann Gish, Custom Comfort, Steven Drew Intl. and Bellino Fine Linens, but now the textiles segment is broadening in both merchandise and by floor.

Cadillac Curtain, for example, is a former 261 Fifth tenant that recently moved into the 7th floor at 230 Fifth. B @ Home and Stabur Fabrics will also relocate to that floor, which has more available space, Fishman said.

Ideally, she said, the building tries to group the home textiles companies together. Hillcrest and Panache for the Bath have recently joined the 19th floor. Come January, Beacon Home Products will move onto the 17th floor, and Edgar Fabrics onto the 14th floor.

Another former 261 Fifth tenant, Scala Intl., an importer of bedding, bath, window, table linens and decorative pillows, has relocated to ground level space at 230 Fifth, and so far the move has been positive, said Chip Scala, president. "We'll get a lot of foot traffic. The building has been very accommodating; they're willing to work with you."

The 230 Fifth lobby space became available just as Scala's lease was expiring at 261 Fifth, he said, which was asking for a rent that was "so high, it was not feasible." His new showroom in 230 is bigger than the old one, and "it's more affordable in the long run." And because the building is gift-oriented, Scala sees his company expanding into new product categories like aromatherapy and accent pieces like vases and bowls.

Scala added that the change taking place at the 261 Fifth Avenue building parallels the change the whole industry is currently undergoing.

Norman Harris, president of bath and furniture supplier Panache for the Bath, moved into the building in September 1999 and recently relocated to a larger space on the 19th floor, and is looking to add onto that. "This building will become the next 261-no doubt," he said. And the building has nice perks, he added, like a buyers' lounge during market, so buyers can eat breakfast, lunch and snacks for free. This past market, the building also set out bistro tables and chairs on the 19th floor with food and drinks available-again, on the house. "They make you feel appreciated," he said.

With companies selling such merchandise as stationery, candles and collectibles, the building is "a diverse group of tenants," said Fishman, which target retailers ranging from 99-cent stores up to high-end accounts. She added that the building currently has a vacancy rate of less than 2 percent.

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