Empire Outlets puts the ‘forgotten borough’ on the map

Empire Outlets opened on Staten Island’s north shore this week.

After seven years of planning, New York City’s first outlet
mall opened on Staten Island’s north shore

After seven years in the works, New York City’s first outlet
mall has opened its doors on Staten Island’s north shore.

Empire Outlets, the sprawling mall steps from the Staten Island
Ferry terminal, debuted this week as a shopping destination “for
diamonds to denim” that will lure locals and tourists alike,
according to the developer behind the project, BFC partners.

“We are located literally 65 feet from New York harbor. You
can watch the container ships and cruise ships cruise by; it’s
really just being in a place that people want to be,” Joseph
Ferrara, a principal at BFC, told Curbed. “People are drawn to
the waterfront. I just feel that that really differentiates
us.”

The 340,000-square-foot space is a network of pedestrian plazas
and glassy shops with a slew of big name retailers, including Nike
Factory, Old Navy, and American Eagle. Twenty-two shops debuted in
the space this week with another 18 set to open throughout the
spring and summer. Visitors can also sink their teeth into eats
from Shake Shack, Mamoun’s Falafel, and Wetzel’s Pretzels,
among others.


BFC partners

Attractions will eventually come to Empire Outlets, though
they’ve yet to be scheduled, with fashion shows, bands, and even
petting zoos potentially on the horizon. “We’re a lifestyle
center,” said Ferrara. “We’re all about community
here.”

All told, Empire Outlets will feature 100 shops, a 1,250-parking
garage, and will eventually boast a 200-room hotel, and bring a
boon of 1,200 new jobs to the borough by this summer. It was an
uphill battle transforming Empire Outlets, which BFC Partners
originally pitched to the city in 2011, from vision to reality.
Over the years, the project has been beset with difficulties,
including a handful of construction delays that continually pushed
its opening date back. Additionally, would-be neighbor the
New York Wheel project
was killed after years of planning—a
massive ferris wheel that would have been major tourist lure.

“This project has been like an oyster that opened up to reveal
a beautiful pearl born out of grit and agitation, and lord knows,
there was agitation and challenges,” said City Council member
Debi Rose, who represents Staten Island’s north shore and worked
with BFC through the project’s approval process, at Wednesday’s
ribbon cutting ceremony.

Rose, who called Empire Outlets “a major chapter of the north
shore renaissance,” touted the project as an economic driver for
St. George and the surrounding communities—which are
in the midst of rezoning
poised to bring thousands of new
apartments to the area.


BFC partners

“This is a day to celebrate jobs, economic development, and
our future,” Rose said. “It’s a day to celebrate a
significant step toward realizing the potential of our north shore
water front.”

On Wednesday night, a stream of eager shoppers flooded Empire
Outlets. Staten Islanders and visitors from across the boroughs
packed into shops, crowded around visiting food stands, and twirled
on plastic tulip sculptures that unfold into chairs.

It was worth the years-long wait for one Staten Island woman who
lives in St. George and works in Todt Hill as a school crossing
guard. “This feels like something out of Midtown. It’s exciting
that this is here for us,” said Meredith Corsetti, who was
browsing blouses in the Gap after buying a pair of sneakers for her
husband at the Nike Factory. “It feels like it has a little
something for everybody.”

High school student Yasmeen Ratliff lounged on a lime-green
tulip chair admiring the view of New York Harbor as she and a
friend decided which shops to check out.

“It’s so nice here. It has real scenery,” said Ratliff,
who lives in nearby Stapleton and typically treks across the
borough to shopping malls after school. “I told all my friends
they’re never going to see me in the Staten Island Mall
again.”

Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
Empire Outlets puts the ‘forgotten borough’ on the map