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Luxury brand stores invest in Wall Street

Luxury brand dealers no longer expecting Wall Street to come uptown to them, they’re profiting from moving their Madison Avenue names down to Wall Street By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
/ Source: CNBC

It’s something businesses have always tried to follow. Go where the money is. But, Wall Street seemed to be an exception. Despite the billions in lower Manhattan, luxury retailers shied away. Until now. Wall Street just isn’t worker bees; it’s power brokers with money to burn and expensive tastes.

Luxury brand dealers are no longer expecting Wall Street to come uptown to them, they’re profiting from moving their Madison Avenue names down to Wall Street. Tiffany and French luxury house Hermes are some of the latest companies announcing new locations, both steps from the New York Stock Exchange. The financial capital’s pin stripes and narrow streets are drawing high-end names with one very important thing – money.

While some of the wealthiest people in the country work there, two out of three on Wall Street make $136,500 a year on average. They have nowhere close to spend that mad money. Luxury automaker BMW was among the first to move in and cash in, and to learn luxury spending goes beyond year-end bonuses.

“We thought it would be measured in a good year or a good month. Now it is measured by ‘I had a good day or a good ½ day or had a good morning,’” said Jeff Falk, President of BMW Manhattan.

Business is better than Falk could have imagined.

“We have already reached in ten months what we had hoped to achieve in two years, it has exceeded our expectations," said Falk.

Now some of those same spenders are choosing to call Wall Street home. Almost everything on the south side of this world famous street, from the stock exchange to the river is residential or being converted to it. And these aren’t just ordinary apartments.

Downtown by Philippe Starck condos start at $1.2 million, opening at 15 Broad Street, the former headquarters of JP Morgan. The most exclusive is 55 Wall Street. Once the stock exchange, now becoming elite Cipriani Club residences. Your neighbors here: Naomi Campbell, Bruce Willis and Harvey Weinstein. For luxury real estate brokers, it’s an easy sell.

“Very few places have the history of Wall Street: very beautiful buildings, limestone buildings and history. It’s a true revival of a New York area and much less expensive than any other area in New York," said Dolly Lenz of Prudential Douglas Elliman.

And it’s not just the residential spaces that are a bargain. Lower retail rents make the decision to move downtown a no-brainer. While Fifth Avenue rents hit $1,300 per square foot, Lower Manhattan square footage is as low as $60 and rarely tops $225.

For brands that stand for wealth, it makes sense to come where the money is made.