The Plaza’s Impossible-to-Find Mall Is in Trouble

By
Alexander Wang, spring 2009.

The upscale shops in the mall under the Plaza Hotel are demanding lower rent since business is so poor. We could have guessed as much. We stumbled upon the mall for the first time recently whilst wandering, confused, around the Upper East Side and went into the Plaza to look at the pretty ceilings and warm up. No one was in the stores, which include Nokia's luxury cell phone brand Vertu, Parisian bookseller Assouline, and handbag maker Ghurka. And why would they be? There are no markings outside to draw the public in, and who aside from maybe Kimora Lee Simmons is interested in visiting a luxury cell phone boutique these days?

Plaza owner Elad Properties is refusing to let the stores renegotiate their multiyear leases. A source close to the situation said if Elad doesn't give a little within the next 90 days, tenants will start moving out, spurring a domino effect, since no one wants to be next to an empty space. Elad is also having trouble marketing the shops and turning it into a place people actually want to spend time in, since they don't want to build things like restaurants to attract shoppers. We wouldn't mind if it quietly closed down, since it's one of the sorriest, most awkward malls we've ever visited. It feels like a suburban mall at 8 a.m. before the stores open when the speed walkers are there. Minus the speed walkers.

PAIN IN THE PLAZA [NYP]