Riverside Galleria, the large-scale retail project in Charleston, has landed a unique anchor tenant.
The Island’s first multi-plex dine-in movie theater with a rooftop bar will be coming to what will be a 458,000 square-foot complex on the waterfront just below the Outerbridge Crossing. Local movie theater operators Gregg and Jesse Scarola, operators of The Atrium, signed a lease last month for a 55,000 square foot, 12 to 16 screen dine-in theater. The Atrium has been family owned and operated since 1994.
“We managed to keep the theater operating as a family-run business when large corporations were gobbling up local operators,” said Gregg Scarola, managing partner of The Atrium. “Because we are a local business, we connect with the community — understanding what they want and how they want it delivered. The opportunity to open a new theater at Riverside Galleria is exciting for us because we will be able to provide residents with a dine-in theater concept that will be unique to Staten Island.”
James Prendamano, managing director for Casandra Properties, the exclusive leasing agents for Riverside Galleria, said the developers set anchor tenants by category — entertainment, furniture, and food and beverage among some categories.
“We thought entertainment was going to be a big component with it, so we led with the movie theater for that reason,” he said.
The overall size of the theater, at 55,000 square feet, made them lead with the theater, and will make it easier to fill open spaces around it. Prendamano said they are in discussions with other anchor tenants such as a high-end grocer and an apparel store to continue to mold the complex’s larger tenants.
While landing anchors is key to the project, Prendamano said they are also attracting interest from, and recruiting, smaller tenants, but typically put relocation clauses in deals signed earlier, in case the puzzle pieces don’t fit perfectly as new tenants are secured.
While size can be a logistical challenge, it isn’t the only determining factor when deciding which tenants to pursue.
“There are some 2,000 square foot tenants that carry cache and as much respect as a 40,000 square foot tenant,” Prendamano said.
Riverside Galleria was designed to serve an unmet need in Staten Island. According to Prendamano, borough residents spend $681 million annually out, $480 million of which is spent on apparel. The average reported median income in the 10309 Zip Code, which is where the project is located, is $116,000.
But the problem is Staten Islanders aren’t spending that money on the Island.
“We have a higher disposable income than many places have in total income,” Prendamano said. “There is a really large, unserved market that we’re trying to service.”
Prendamano described the retail market on the Island feeling like it is stuck somewhere between the 1970s and 1980s. Not much has changed, he said, and it all looks the same.
Riverside Galleria was designed to be a direct contrast to that — a lifestyle center where people can spend the entire day for more than just in-and-out shopping.
“(On Staten Island), you’ll find a children’s clothing store next to a bar, next to a men’s apparel store. There’s no synergy to the flow of the projects, and it’s problematic,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is create a center that’s not a hotspot, blacktop, box next to box with no synergy. The industry has really changed, and I feel that for whatever reason, in spite of our outstanding demographics, we haven’t caught up until recently with the other trends and projects around New York City.”
Riverside Galleria will also take advantage of the Island’s natural resources — specifically, that it is an island surrounded by water.
“It’s time to get into destination-style, smarter, more efficient centers,” he said.
When Casandra Properties searches for tenants, it is also making sure to stay conscious of the desire to remain local — filling spaces with locally-run tenants and not corporate clients. The Atrium serves as the prime example of the type of tenant they are seeking — one with cache among Staten Islanders.
“This is a win-win situation for Staten Island and for residents of the South Shore in particular,” Prendamano said. “Not only are they going to get a top flight theater/dining experience, they will have the advantage of knowing that the operator is a local business owner who is invested in the community and who will listen to their needs.”
Riverside Galleria’s sponsor and executive project manager Robert Konig has been great to hire local brokers, engineers, architects and public relations firms, and wants to do so with tenants as well, Prendamano said. Tenants interested in locating at Riverside Galleria should contact Prendamano at Casandra Properties.
“Riverside Galleria has been designed to serve the unmet needs of the people living in the South Shore of Staten Island,” Konig said. “Our goal is to create a destination retail center that respects Staten Island’s history and environment while providing residents the opportunity to shop, dine and be entertained.”