S.F. Barneys to open in September 

Soon, San Francisco will be fit for a visit from Carrie Bradshaw.

Barneys New York, a department store beloved by the Sex and the City character and famous for designer fashions with an edge, will open a "flagship" store on Union Square on Sept. 19 at 77 O’Farrell St., the former FAO Schwarz building.

Previously known under a 47 Stockton St. address, the building was built for the Newman and Levinson Department Store in 1909, according to the American Institute of Architects San Francisco Chapter, which received a sneak peak at the building this month.

"Obviously, it’s a landmark building, so the front of the building was basically left intact," Barneys spokeswoman Dawn Brown said. "Inside, we ripped out everything to take out escalators and put in staircases. ... All of the windows have been restored and the front of the store has also been restored. We really think it’s kind of beautiful."

The company is opening a store in San Francisco because it is cosmopolitan and Barneys already has many customers from The City, Brown said. At 60,000 square feet on six floors, the San Francisco location will be among the smaller Barneys stores, less than half the size of the Los Angeles location but larger than Boston.

Brown said she expects the Co-op section of the store, featuring edgier fashions and lower prices, to be an attraction to local shoppers.

The opening will come one day after an invitation-only opening party hosted by San Francisco author Danielle Steel and BarneysCEO Howard Socol, benefiting Steel’s Nick Traina Foundation, which funds organizations that aid the mentally ill.

On the larger stage, Barneys New York is in the process of being sold. Dubai investment firm Istithmar agreed this month to buy the chain from Jones Apparel Group (JNY) for $942.3 million after a bidding war with Japanese firm Fast Retailing.

"I think it’s one more name in retailing to add to the mix," said Stephen Brett, a director of the Union Square Business Improvement District and principal of leasing firm Brett & Co. "Witness the bidding war: Barneys has great international cachet. It really strengthens the Stockton [Street] connector between Yerba Buena and Union Square."

Several other new stores will open in Union Square in coming months, including Mango, De Beers, Prada and Helmut Lang, according to Donna Ficarrotta, managing director of Union Square Association.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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