Virgin Megastores In New York City May Be Closing Sooner Than We Thought

Aug 20th, 2007 // 11 Comments

unionsquare.jpgOne–or both!–of the Virgin Megastores in New York City could be on the chopping block, thanks to the chain of super-sized music outlets being sold to a pair of NYC real estate companies. Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust will finalize their purchase of the 11 stores–totaling some 400,000 square feet of retail space–in September, and the New York Post is speculating that the buy is in part a ploy to squeeze more cash out of the two New York City locations, both of which are paying low rent on long-term leases. The landlords who are getting those discounted rental payments? Take a guess:

Industry watchers say the sale would allow Related and Vornado – which are already Virgin’s landlords at their Union Square and Times Square stores, respectively – to close the two stores where Virgin has long-term leases well below market rates.

“There’s rental gold in the Times Square Virgin Store,” said one broker. Virgin is probably paying $100 a foot, compared to the $800 a foot Vornado could be getting today.”

While I’m not 100% sure that the $800-a-foot figure is a slam-dunk–ahem, if it was, would the Barcode space still be empty after all these years?–the idea of one of New York’s Virgin outlets closing isn’t a surprise at all, given the fact that a lot of their space seems to be taken up by, well, empty space. It’s really going to be a sad day in the city when the only place where you can pick up an $18.98 copy of Daughtry is the FYE off Rockefeller Center.


  1. Dickdogfood

    An acquaintance in the retail design industry thinks either location could easily be replaced by a big-box apparel retail store, maybe another H&M, and the 42nd Street could be a new tourist-centric restaraunt, like, I dunno, the world’s biggest Taco Bell or something.

  2. Maura Johnston

    @dickdogfood: It could be open 24 hours and serve “Fourth Meal” all day!

  3. spinachdip

    Does $100 a foot calculate to $10,000 a square foot?
    Sorry, that’s the Mathlete in me coming out.

    But really, there was a time I enjoyed going to Union Square, even going to Virgin so I could pay $30 on an import Cardigans album. But I realize now that it’s basically Times Square Jr., except with NYU girls and an absolute traffic jam of a farmer’s market.

    Remember back when the Warriors had that big fight with the rollerskating gang in the Union Square subway? Those were the days.

  4. Ben_is_Glory

    Virgin. Closing?
    Where will I not buy my music now???

  5. Diglett

    In the only instance in history where one has fled to Times Square for tranquility, that Virgin Megastore is where I escaped to grasp for oxygen/buy my Harry Potter book after foolishly starting with the Union Square B&N. So it and all its big empty space with almost no customers holds a special place in my heart. Sigh.

  6. MisterHippity

    I’ll never forget standing in the cold for for many hours outside that Union Square Virgin store, waiting to meet Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding in 1999.

    As people drove by and saw the enormous line stretching down the block, they’d shout “who’s inside?” and we’d shout back “XTC!” We got a kick out of watching them react in total confusion and say things like “Who the hell is XTC?” Finally, we started shouting names like “Britney Spears!” or “Garth Brooks!” Ah, memories …

    Who know XTC were so popular? I think even Andy and Colin were shocked.

  7. noamjamski

    I work in Union Square. Unless you want something deep catalog or obscure, the Circuit City next door destroys them on price.

    Granted, Circuit City does not sell Hawkwind DVDs, but I’m probably the only person on the market for them.

  8. Lampbane

    I always went to Circuit City instead of Virgin for CDs and DVDs. The only reason I ever go to Virgin is to check their discount bins, I need to kill time before I get on the train, or I’m bored and don’t want to go home yet. Never go in there to buy CDs, really.

    …though, then again, they do have those perennial $10 sales. No better place to buy music that came out 3 years ago.

  9. Paddington

    What about the Howard Johnson? That closed like three years ago — nothing there, though.

  10. Dickdogfood


    Well, comparing the HoJo site to the Virgin store might be a little bit of the apples and their fruit sidekick, the oranges. A little online sleuthing shows that the old HoJo store was very small — a mere 7,000 square feet, according to Cushman & Wakefield — whereas the Virgin Megastore must be at least 30,000-40,000 square feet and I would think even larger. I’m guessing that the people who can afford the rent on a newly-vacant Times Square location would probably be much more interested in a BIG place than a little one; plus, MAYBE the Times Square area has one of those curious economies-of-scale situations where you have a better chance making money on a bigger site than a littler one.

  11. Anonymous

    You are not supposed to shop at Circuit City.

    They fired all their employees and hired them back at lower salaries.

    Chris B

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