Hudson Yards is using digitally-native brands to shield its retail property from typical mall woes.

WHAT HAPPENED: As malls lose traction among consumers, Hudson Yards is betting on an innovative retail hub featuring one floor that will sell purely digitally-native brands.

Why it matters

  • Between 2019 and 2023, digital retailers will open a minimum of 850 stores, 41.3% of which will start in New York City, according to JLL, a property consulting firm. Retail property groups are increasingly turning to these brands to revive empty malls, but many rely on shorter-term leases or pop-ups that derisk the movement offline for both parties. Hudson Yards is approaching digital brands differently in the hope that they can strike a more symbiotic partnership—and an innovative retail solution—at its 18-million-square foot commercial and residential space set to open this March.

  • Applying lessons from the struggling retail industry to Hudson Yards, Related, the real estate company behind the development, is devoting an entire retail floor (77 square feet) to digitally-native brands, as well as offering them longer leases and bigger spaces. So far, Rhone, a men’s activewear brand, M. Gemi, a shoe brand, and The Drug Store, beverage brand Dirty Lemon’s cashier-free retail concept, have signed on. The property is taking a chance on these brands, many of which are recent entrants to physical retail, at the same time that these brands are taking a chance on Hudson Yards and forking over the cost of setting up owned retail. But it may pay off for both parties.