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What Will Replace Best Buy On Newbury Street?

By Thomas Grillo, Real Estate Editor, Boston Business Journal
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BOSTON (CBS) – Closing the Best Buy store in the Hub’s Back Bay opens up the possibility of a 45,000-square-foot space for a new tenant on the bustling corner where Newbury Street meets Massachusetts Avenue.

“It’s a rare large space on one of the hottest blocks of Newbury,” said Michael Jammen, principal at Urban Meritage told the Boston Business Journal.

“You can’t find that size space anywhere else on Newbury and likely never will again.”

Earlier this month, Best Buy, the electronics giant, closed its doors in the Back Bay along with a second store in Wareham, part of the retailer’s plan to shutter 50 stores nationwide as the company seeks to trim $800 million in costs.

The retail space had several tenants over the past decade.

Tower Records occupied the space until 2002, a Virgin Megastore took over the spot but closed in 2006, making way for Best Buy.

But Jammen said the building, designed by Frank Gehry and built in 1987, is not the Bermuda Triangle of retail.

“If you consider what’s been in the space, a record and an electronics store, they are two dying industries,” said Jammen.

“You could be the best record or electronics store in the world, but they’re just not viable uses anymore. It’s a phenomenal space and it has nothing to do with the retailers who failed, it has more to do with the industry.”

He expects that fashion stores including Topshop, a British clothing retailer; and Uniqlo, a new Japanese casual clothes company, will consider the space and have been looking for an opportunity to get into Boston.

Uniqlo’s three U.S. stores are all located in New York City, including a flagship store on Fifth Avenue that opened last year, with another store expected to open in San Francisco this fall.

Topshop, which offers the latest fashion in women’s clothing, has three U.S. stores in New York City, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Other possibilities include Walmart, CVS or Walgreens, brokers say.

But Jammen said the best use of the space is for clothing sellers to fit with the tenants on that section of Newbury.

“I hope it’s fashion because that block is known for fashion and you’d want it to stay that way,” he said.

Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal can be seen weekdays at 6 a.m. on WBZ-TV.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter at @lvanderpool.

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