* Store to tentatively open in 2018
* Store will be one of the biggest in the upscale chain's fleet
* Will boost Nordstrom's image as a global brand - luxe expert
By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - Nordstrom Inc said it expects to open a department store in New York City in 2018, ending a years-long search for a location in Manhattan's competitive luxury market.
The Nordstrom store will be 285,000 square feet and occupy seven stories at the base of a skyscraper to be built on 57th Street, near 7th Avenue, as part of a deal signed with Extell Development Co, the upscale chain said on Thursday.
Nordstrom, which operates 117 department stores and 114 Rack outlet stores, has focused almost all of its store fleet expansion on its Rack stores in recent years.
A full-service New York department store will give the chain, revered for its customer service and designer shoe selection, exposure to the millions of tourists who flock to Manhattan to shop at luxury stores that has bolstered business at rivals such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's Inc Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus Group Inc's Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co.
"This has been a long time coming for us," said Erik Nordstrom, president of stores for the upscale chain.
Through this initiative, the retailer also stands to gain greater awareness of the Nordstrom name outside the United States, where all of its stores are located.
"It will market Nordstrom as a global brand," said Milton Pedraza, Chief Executive of Luxury Institute.
Nordstrom has been looking into opening stores in Canada and its Website offers international shipping.
The news comes as many of its rivals are spending millions on their New York City flagship stores to woo free spending tourists. Macy's has begun a $400 million makeover of its Herald Square store while Saks is revamping its eighth floor shoe section.
The Manhattan Nordstrom will be one of the biggest in the chain's fleet, where department stores on average are 177,000 square feet. It will also be located a half mile or so from the cluster of luxury shops on Fifth and Madison Avenues.
In 2010, Nordstrom opened a popular Rack outlet store in New York's Union Square.