Disney to dump Fifth Avenue spot

Walt Disney Co. announced Friday that it will not renew its lease for its World of Disney store at 711 Fifth Ave. when it expires in 2010 because of hefty rent increases.

The entertainment conglomerate notified its 220 store employees, called “cast members,” Thursday and Friday that it will be leaving its current 36,000-square-foot space, Disney’s only Manhattan location.

“The Disney Stores are going to be reviewing other potential locations in the Manhattan retail market,” said spokesperson John Nicoletti.

Speculation abounds for the company’s Big Apple relocation. Some in the real estate industry expect Disney to move to an even more tourist-laden area like SoHo or Times Square. The company formerly operated a retail store on 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, a space which has since become a Champs store.

Robin Abrams, a Lansco Corp. broker and former chairwoman of the retail committee for the Real Estate Board of New York, expects Disney to favor Times Square over SoHo.

“For the most part, [Disney’s] customers are comprised of families and kids—in SoHo, you get a lot of teens and adults who are probably not as provoked to go in and buy a Mickey Mouse shirt,” said Ms. Abrams.

Even a company of Disney’s magnitude is not immune to the current economic downturn. For the nine months ended June 28, Disney reported a 3.8% drop in net income, compared with the same period a year before. Revenue for the nine-month-period ending June 28 increased 6.8%. 


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