St. George update: Empire Outlets set to open this fall; development of NY Wheel still being finalized
With a vast majority of its retail storefronts leased and ready for occupancy, Empire Outlets remains on pace for a fall opening.
“Tenants have started taking possession and are building up their interior spaces,” noted Joseph Ferrara, principal of BFC Partners, which began developing Empire Outlets in 2015. “We flipped on permanent power last week into all of the individual retail sites and are slated to open by the end of the year.”
The highly anticipated retail destination, which features more than 100 shops and an artisanal food hall, has been designated as New York City’s only outlet mall. With 350,000 square feet of retail space, 40,000 square feet of food and beverage space and 20,000 square feet of event space, Empire is a huge catalyst in the redevelopment of St. George. And while some new deals are still being inked, Ferrara says the bulk of the $1.2 billion project can be considered complete.
“We are thrilled and excited about the completion of Empire Outlets,” Ferrara said. “This is a signature project for the borough and for the city of New York. We have received a lot of support from city agencies and are being promoted by companies all over the world. We’re seeing international interest and are ecstatic about attracting shoppers from all over the world.”
And while shopping is a top priority for Empire, Ferrara says the space will be much more than just a retail epicenter.
“Empire is not only a retail center but a lifestyle center as well,” he said. “Yes, a large portion of our market is tourism but we have over 580,000 residents in this borough and we are programming our public spaces for those Staten Islanders.”
Concerts, food trucks and pop-up trunk shows are just a few of the events already filling Empire’s calendar.
“I think this will do great things for our borough,” Ferrara concluded. “We’re aiming at getting people off the ferry and upland into St. George and beyond. And we’re focused on bringing the rest of Staten Island into this rapidly developing hub.”
And while St. George’s other main development, the New York Wheel, has been stalled by legal disputes for more than a year, a recent agreement may signal the project’s road to recovery.
“The New York Wheel recently reached an agreement with the debtors and the Mammoet entities. It facilitates not only the ability to complete the Wheel, but also the Debtor’s consensual exit from chapter 11,” NY Wheel noted in a statement.
The agreement, which was reached in May, gave NY Wheel 120 days to hire a contractor and get the project back on track. And while no permanent solution has been reached, representatives from NY Wheel say the agreement is currently being finalized.
“The New York Wheel is committed to the development and completion of the project, and the revitalization of the Staten Island waterfront destination that it will promote,” their statement continued. “The settlement paves the way for the Wheel to continue to finalize its financing arrangements, and arrangements with a new contractor, American Bridge, the builder of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, and Arup, a world-class, global engineering firm, and complete construction. Both American Bridge and Arup have experience in building observation Wheels of this type having been involved in similar wheels in London and Las Vegas. The New York Wheel has also already commenced discussions with the suppliers that will be necessary for completion of the project.”