For decades, Staten Island’s local businesses were strategically placed along high-traffic strips of Hylan Boulevard, Richmond Road, Forest Avenue or New Dorp Lane.
But as the population expanded and neighborhoods grew so did the commercial real estate landscape.
Residents craved more variety and developers answered by taking the pressure off of overpopulated shopping destinations and spreading out to neighborhoods like Charleston, Tottenville, Travis and Stapleton.
And now, with dozens of major commercial projects currently in the works in all corners of the borough, Staten Island is in the midst of a commercial construction boom. Here’s a look at what’s rising on all of our shores.
The Boulevard: This two-story Main Street shopping concept promises to bring 50 national and local retailers to New Dorp by the fall and with 90 percent of its retail leases signed, developers say their construction timetable is currently on schedule.
“Construction has been progressing rapidly since our groundbreaking in 2017,” noted Nicholas Brown, vice president of development for the Northern Region of Kimco Realty Corporation, one of the country’s largest operators of open-air shopping centers and the developer of the Staten Island site. “The project remains on track for a grand opening in fall 2019.”
The $180 million project, which is currently rising on the site of the former Hylan Plaza, will introduce an Alamo Draft House Cinema to the borough and feature national chains such as LA Fitness, Marshalls, Ulta Beauty, PetSmart and AC Moore.
“Unlike the typical strip center that is commonplace on Staten Island, The Boulevard will provide a completely unique shopping experience,” Brown continued. “Our two-story Main Street concept will deliver a pedestrian-friendly environment, complete with outdoor dining and sidewalk activity, which will energize and activate the entire shopping center. We believe that we struck the perfect balance that will offer the excitement of a downtown hub while providing the conveniences that customers expect from a typical shopping center. The dynamic tenant lineup at The Boulevard will encourage visitors of all ages to stay and linger, whether it’s dining outside on restaurant row, working out at a 24-hour gym, enjoying a movie at the dine-in cinema, shopping for fresh groceries, or taking care of everyday service needs.”
A few of Hylan Plaza’s existing tenants will stay, including Modell’s, CVS and Chase Bank. And other successful Staten Island businesses, including Party City and ShopRite, are moving from their current locations to capitalize on the new shopping center’s draw and appeal.
“Kimco has recognized the great potential in Staten Island and we’re transforming the already ideally- located Hylan Plaza into a shopping center befitting this growing borough,” the developer said in a statement. “Without a doubt, Staten Island is in the midst of a renaissance. Already New York City’s wealthiest outer borough, planned projects and new amenities are expected to attract millions of tourists and add 14,000 jobs to the area over the next five years. Retailers are flocking to the under-served Staten Island market for its combination of strong population density, high income levels and projected growth. We plan on making The Boulevard the premier downtown hub on the Hylan Boulevard commercial corridor.”
Corporate Commons Three: The Nicotra Group is continuing construction on Corporate Commons Three, a nine acre addition to their Corporate Park, which will serve as home to a 330,000 square foot office building, classroom space, a vineyard and rooftop farm.
“This is one of the biggest projects we’ve ever undertaken,” revealed Richard Nicotra, who owns and manages The Corporate Park of Staten Island with wife Lois. “This property will feature another socially responsible restaurant, a vineyard and a 40,000 square foot organic rooftop farm. It is going to be a great addition to the property and we are truly excited about all of the wonderful details that we are going to include.”
The Nicotras, who have firmly established themselves as Staten Island’s largest private real estate developer, adding beautiful art, architecture and nature preserves to a mile-long stretch of land in Bloomfield for the past 20 years, are proud to add the eight-story Silver LEED certified Class A office building to their portfolio. CetraRuddy, an international award-winning architecture, planning and interior design firm which recently published an extensive white paper on the future of Staten Island, is working on this project for The Nicotra Group.
“The foundation and steel is complete and we are now awaiting the first shipment of glass from Italy, set to arrive in early April,” Nicotra said. “By the end of the summer the goal is to have the building fully enclosed and construction completed on a 415-space parking deck. If all goes according to schedule, tenants could start moving into the space by the end of 2019.”
To share the unique space with the community, the Nicotras are building an outdoor classroom so students can visit and learn about the environment, preservation and the historical significance of this land in an outdoor educational setting. And land preservation is an important issue for the Nicotras.
“We’re currently focused on cleaning and landscaping the medians along South Avenue,” said Lois Nicotra, who spoke about their collaboration with a landscape architect to create a temporary nursery on the grounds to house tens of thousands of indigenous plants and hundreds of native trees currently displaced by the construction. “We planted 80,000 tulip bulbs which are now starting to pop. I think this strip just gets more and more beautiful each year. It’s unlike any other street on Staten Island.”
At Corporate Commons Three the Nicotras will also follow the social enterprise model they’ve already created at Commons Café, opening “Pienza, Pizza & Pasta,” a restaurant that will also donate 100 percent of the profits to Staten Island charities.
They are currently developing infrastructure to light all of the trees along South Avenue and scouting different sculptures from around the country to continue to fill their property with art.
“We simply wanted to continue what we’ve been doing here for the past 25 years,” Nicotra concluded. “I think this is going to be one very special building.”
Marriot Inn & Suites: A Fairfield by Marriott opened its doors to Staten Island travelers on March 26, marking the hotel brand’s first endeavor in the borough.
“Fairfield by Marriott has become one of the fastest-growing hotel brands in the world, and as we expand into new markets we continue to be the brand business travelers rely on for friendly service and a balanced stay while on the road,” said Janis Milham, senior vice president and global brand leader, Marriott Classic Select Brands. “The Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites New York Staten Island offers business travelers a convenient location with easy access to destinations in New York City and New Jersey, while also providing the warm hospitality, comfort and simplicity that the Fairfield brand has come to be known for.”
The hotel, which stands on the former site of the Holiday Inn on Wild Avenue, features five floors and 100 rooms as well as 450 square feet of meeting space. There’s also an on-site restaurant, Bar 290, which features an American menu with signature cocktails. A 24-hour fitness center, free high-speed Wi-Fi and complimentary shuttle service to the Staten Island Ferry will be offered to guests.
Empire Outlets: The borough’s most publicized development, Empire Outlets, will celebrate its grand opening on April 18 with a phased rollout from now until summer. Located on the St. George waterfront, the property, which started development in 2015, includes more than 100 designer outlet retailers and a 1,250-space parking garage, as well as number of restaurants on its 12,000-square-foot food and beverage deck, titled MRKTPL.
Major retailers at the center include H&M, Nike Factory Store, Starbucks, Columbia Sportswear Company, Gap, True Religion, Nordstrom Rack, Guess Factory Store and Krispy Kreme. No details have been offered about which stores will open first but developers say there will be special events with each phase of opening.
“We are thrilled and excited about the completion of Empire Outlets,” noted Joseph Ferrara, principal with BFC Partners, which is developing Empire. “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. I think this will do great things for our borough.”
Bricktown Commons: When the Bricktown Center at Charleston first opened for business in early 2006, only a handful of stores, including Target, Christmas Tree Shoppes, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Home Depot, were involved in the initial rollout.
The 400,000 square foot shopping center, situated on 42 acres, expanded in 2015 with the opening of T.J. Maxx, Michael’s and Ulta Beauty. And now the development is scheduled to expand once more with the opening of a 90,000 square foot Regal Entertainment movie theater.
The luxury theater, which does not yet have a scheduled opening date, will be one of the brand’s RPX theaters, which presents movies with powerful, uncompressed surround sound and bright eye-popping images in 2D and RealD 3D. A custom-built premium environment and giant immersive screen illuminated by high-quality digital projectors are slated to be the theater’s main attractions.