HAVING the wrong retailer in a building can send mixed messages to those upstairs and the problem can be compounded when one party owns the storefronts and another operates the office or residential tenancies.

The ongoing trend of separating the retail space into its own condominium unit and selling it off to others can generate bad feelings when the stores don’t synch with the upstairs attitudes.

“The ground floor defines the building,” said Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president of Newmark Knight Frank. “Designers and architects slave over the design of the building for years and years, and if you put in a Rite Aide on the ground floor, it becomes ‘The Rite Aide Building.’”

Roseman added, “We put Tiffany on Wall Street and it’s different. Who wouldn’t want to live over Tiffany?” But having an OTB parlor right outside a lobby door, for instance, will keep many prospective tenants from ever crossing the doorstep.

Similarly, because of potential vermin infestations, there are those who refuse to work or live in a building that has a restaurant. Others simply slough off that notion and prefer the welcoming white tablecloths as an added convenience.

Most building owners give great thought to the kinds of retailers they are willing to install in what they consider the building’s front door.

“Retail plays a significant part in any development in any building,” agreed William S. Macklowe, President of Macklowe Properties.

Setting the stage for the look of a building is very important. For many years, 1370 Avenue of the Americas was referred to by its theme restaurant, the Harley Davidson Café. When a new group headed by Stellar Management bought the building, they also bought out the café’s lease.

Macklowe Properties believes there was value to the rebranding of the office tower at 1370.

The new owners were able to get rid of the bikers and motorcycles that littered the area and in doing so made the building appear more professional and institutional – which added rental dollars to the office floors by attracting better tenants.

“Everything is uniform – there is a uniform front and a uniform façade and it is demonstrative of an attitude to blend the need for retailers and have cache for office tenants,” Macklowe said.

At their own General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue, Macklowe has already redesigned and retenanted the Madison Avenue side’s stores.

Among those “very international” tenants are a Chase bank, a reworked Bally store, and a Porsche design store.

“A store in Times Square is not going to kick my tires in GM,” Macklowe added.

John J. Gilbert, COO of Rudin Management, explained that for their company, “It’s all about looking at it for the long term. Rudin looks at retail as an amenity and compliment to the rest of the building.” Gilbert said, “We would never relinquish control over a retail space if connected to an office or residential building.” When there’s a vacancy or a new building is developed, owners sift through multiple offers to find the right mix.

An office building might insist on a newsstand in the lobby, a bank on the corner, an upscale restaurant and perhaps a fashion store to appeal to the tenancies.

But there were arched eyebrows when the big new retailer at 15 Central Park, the ritzy condo rising next to the park, turned out to be Best Buy. That condo unit was previously sold to investors by the sponsors who are selling the residential apartments.

“You make sure the condo documents state the restrictions on what kinds of retailers cannot lease, so the guy coming in to buy it sees what he can or cannot do,” said David LaPierre, executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis.

Examples include discount stores and even no cooking or food use.

“I don’t think Best Buy is that negative a reflection [on the building],” added LaPierre of the store coming into 15 Central Park on its Broadway side.

“Maybe in the ultra luxury building the retail should be only exclusive. But when you are high in the sky it doesn’t matter what is in the building. They segregate the entrances. Everyone walks by on Broadway.”

Retail units are often sold to other parties to reduce the risk by the developer or new building owner, or by co-ops, to ensure the rental income does not negatively affect their tax status.

“What does the retail condo guy care about what goes on upstairs?” added LaPierre.

“He’s trying to protect his asset [with the best rents].” James Nelson, managing partner of Massey Knakal Real Estate, sold a retail coop at 143 W. 26th Street and the co-op board became involved in who was going to be in the space.

“They didn’t want a restaurant and that had an objective impact on the value of the space,” said Nelson.

As a rule of thumb, Nelson said the sales price of such a unit would be based on 10 times the net rental income.

Many buyers are often retail users who want to control their own destiny rather than move every 10 years when their lease expires and they can’t afford the rent.

There were arched eyebrows when the big new retailer at 15 Central Park, the ritzy condo rising next to the park, turned out to be Best Buy.