The Bow Tie Building in Times Square in New York City has a long and storied past. That history has become clear once again as the massive building undergoes its latest renovation, changing out one major retail brand for two others as residents in the process. The shifting retail tenants both reflect and encourage changes in the surrounding areas that have redefined its appeal for various retailers.lo-res_109864125-s

The lower levels of the excavated building display an orchestra pit, from when the building housed a live theater, as well as terrazzo tiles from when it contained a movie theater—among the first in the country to screen talkies with sound. In those early days, Times Square was an entertainment mecca, where people from the city and around the world might come to catch a show and enjoy the city.

In the later part of the twentieth century though, Times Square underwent a decline, and most of the tenants were driven out of the Bow Tie Building. But when the city focused on transforming Times Square into a family-friendly tourist spot in the early twenty-first century, it was able to attract Toys ‘R’ Us into the 160,000-square-foot space. The toy retailer installed a massive, animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex; a 65-foot Ferris wheel; and huge models of toys, candies, and other childlike wonders suspended from the ceiling. The arrival of this retailer helped bring families to the site, with benefits for local tour operators, nearby retailers, and restaurants that could enjoy the overflow of these appealing consumer targets.

But Toys ‘R’ Us recently left, making room for new Gap and Old Navy store openings. Both brands are owned by the same company, and the large retail space offers the vast appeal of being able to house flagship stores for both of them in one building, without feeling cramped in any way. These tenants are slated to open their stores in early 2017, but for now, the big old building is solely a construction site, with little benefit for neighboring retail businesses.

Discussion Question: 

  1. How does the changing history of an area affect which retailers desire to locate there?
  2. What kinds of neighboring retailers might benefit from the arrival of Gap and Old Navy stores in the Bow Tie Building in Times Square?

Source: Hannah Furfaro, The New York Times, July 13, 2016