- Last Updated: 12:54 AM, July 24, 2012
- Posted: 12:11 AM, July 24, 2012
The music’s almost over on West 48th Street.
Sam Ash has signed a lease for a huge new store on West 34th Street, spelling the end soon of several of its outlets on West 48th’s former “Music Row” — and eventually of the rest as well.
The legendary musical-instruments emporium is taking nearly 30,000 square feet of modern retail space at SL Green’s 333 W. 34th St., The Post has learned — an office building once owned by Citibank that SLG modernized and repositioned.
The asking rent was $90 a square foot, said Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Jeffrey Roseman, who represented the landlord with Gregg Gropper.
Family-owned Sam Ash has a half-dozen cozy, old-fashioned stores on both sides of West 48th between Sixth and Seventh avenues.
The first to leave will be the brass, winds and drums shops on the north side, said Paul Ash, a son of company founders Sam and Rose Ash.
“Eventually we’ll move all of them,” he said. The ones on the north side, in the base of a garage, must go soon because the property owners are “planning a condo.”
The garage is owned by Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Co. A rep for Extell declined to comment on its plans.
Ash said, “48th Street is a very important street in the history of music. Once there were 30 different businesses — music stores, practice studios, repairmen. One by one they’ve disappeared.”
Some of the world’s greatest musicians have bought instruments from the 48th Street shops, including guitar greats Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.
If all the Sam Ash outlets leave the fabled Midtown block — the city’s mecca for guitars and other instruments since the 1950s — they’d leave behind only a few small surviving musical shops.
Rockefeller Group, Sam Ash’s other major 48th Street landlord, has also been putting assemblages together on both sides of the block.
Rockefeller Group reps declined to comment last night. But news of the Sam Ash lease on 34th Street “came as a surprise to the Rockefeller people,” a source said.
“They’d been in active talks with Ash about renewing their leases,” the source added.
Sam Ash’s new home — including 20,000 square feet at sidewalk level and 10,000 square feet in the basement — was once used as a Merrill Lynch cafeteria, according to SL Green Executive Vice-President Steven Durels.
The office floors in the 340,000 square-foot building are fully leased. Durels said Sam Ash’s new store space has never been used for retail.
“We first showed them the space three years ago when we were redeveloping the building,” Durels said. “We thought it was the ideal space for a destination retailer.”
Durels said Sam Ash was “on and off again,” but the need to leave at least some of the 48th Street locations apparently helped make the decision for them.
Newmark’s Roseman said, “Sam Ash was flirting with [a possible move] for years. They needed to figure out what to do for a permanent Manhattan home with no ax over their heads.”
He noted that the location between Eighth and Ninth avenues is part of a rejuvenated West 34th Street retail corridor, and sits across the street from a giant Loews multiplex cinema.
Sam Ash was founded in Brooklyn in 1924. The retailer opened its first small store on West 48th Street, then the heart of the city’s music industry, in the late 1960s.
It expanded its presence on Music Row piece by piece over the years.
It now has stores on the block selling guitars, woodwinds, brass instruments, drums, keyboards, sheet music and every kind of accessory.
Although Sam Ash has 45 megastores around the US, none is like the West 48th Street group.
The emporium — especially the larger portion on the block’s south side with a main entrance at 156 W. 48th — is an inexhaustibly fascinating, two-level warren of small, specialized selling and service areas patrolled by a cheerful, knowledgeable staff.
Their warmth will surely make its way to West 34th Street. Whether the music will sound the same away from 48th Street is another matter altogether.