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Carter's View

Time Warner Center Time Warner Center
There are certain stores that became very "hot" destinations in real estate like the Whole Foods store in the basement of the Time Warner Center, or the Apple Store currently being renovated in the plaza of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue.

For some residents in the vicinity in such buildings as the Sheffield 57, or Parc Vendome at 340 West 57th Street , such stores add a lot of traffic, but for others who really like what they have to offer they are paradise.

In some cases, they significantly change the character of a neighborhood and its property values. A block north of the Time Warner Center, for example, is 15 Central Park West, widely considered one of the city's most prestigious addresses. Its big store on its Broadway frontage is Best Buy, the popular consumer electronics emporium.

Is Best Buy a bigger attraction for real estate shoppers than Whole Foods? The propinquity of a gourmet food store is not a laughing matter. When you are talking Whole Foods you usually throw away the shopping list and fill up your cart to overflowing and know that you can't wait for a delivery but must have your rare delectables right away, preferably an elevator ride away. At Best Buy, the shopper is most likely focusing on just a huge TV, or a tiny digital camera.

Whole Foods is not the only game in town, of course. In the old days, Greenwich Village restaurants would open accounts at the Jefferson Food Market on Sixth Avenue or run into their favorite authors in the crowded aisles at Balducci's one block south at Ninth Street. Now Upper East Siders in buildings like the Georgica on Second Avenue between 85th and 96th Streets flock to the brand new Fairway on East 86th Street to take their very large shopping carts in the elevator to the basement with its seemingly endless aisles of goodies and coffees and cheeses and meaty bacons and the like.

Food, of course, is not the only retail game and now that Century 21 has taken over the Barnes & Noble bookstore at the north end of the traffic intersection at Lincoln Center the big magazine racks at the Barnes & Noble store further up Broadway are looking a lot more interesting and readable to the residents of the Astor.

It's interesting that two of the most popular consumer electronic stores, J & R, facing City Hall Park, and B & H Photo on the east side of Ninth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets are true "destinations" to which people will make arduous, difficult treks to ogle, and handle, equipment they perhaps can't afford right away but want to start drooling/dreaming/planning over.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.