Deal reached on S.I. megadevelopment


Some late wheeling and dealing Tuesday resulted in a surprising agreement that assures final approval for Staten Island’s largest development project since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: a huge Ferris wheel and massive outlet mall near the borough’s ferry terminal in St. George. While full details have not been disclosed, Crain’s has learned that the broad strokes of the deal signal a clear win for both organized labor and Councilwoman Debi Rose.

Developer BFC Partners has, according to sources, agreed to offer the entire construction of its Empire Outlets project, which will entail 1 million square feet of mixed-use space anchored by an outlet shopping center, to unionized labor. That agreement would constitute a dramatic about-face for BFC while also clearing the final hurdle of a two-pronged land-use application to dramatically reshape Staten Island’s St. George waterfront.

Because of a City Council decision, Brooklyn-based BFC found the Empire Outlets’ fate in the council tied to that of the New York Wheel, whose well-healed developer agreed early on to build with 100% union labor. What will be the world’s tallest observation Ferris wheel, adjacent to the shopping center, will be largely constructed off-site before being erected on the waterfront. Combined, the two projects will represent roughly $580 million in private investment and attract what its supporters claim will be 4 million new visitors a year to the area. Empire Outlets is to consist of 80 stores, generally higher-end retailers.


Here Now, the SHoP-Designed Outlet Mall Coming to S.I.

via Jessica Daily at

Staten Island is bracing preparing for its very own megaproject, the centerpiece of which is a 625-foot-tall observation wheel, but the bulk of the development will be a 1,000,000-square-foot outlet mall and entertainment complex designed by firm-of-the-moment, SHoP Architects. Both the mall and the wheel (they have different developers) enter the six-month review process today, and BFC Partners released a slew of new renderings showing the design of the complex, know as the Empire Outlets. Green roofs abound on the multi-tiered project, which will host 125 storesin 340,000-square-feet of retail, plus restaurants and a 200-room hotel.

Cuozzo of the Post reports that several high-end retailers showed interest in the development, to rise close to the St. George Ferry terminal, during the ICSC conference in Las Vegas. Supposedly reps from Coach, Restoration Hardware, Michael Kors, Nordstrom Rack, and Brooks Bros. all showed interest in BFC’s presentation of the Empire Outlets. The developer wouldn’t discuss specifics, but they made clear that not all brands are welcome in the retail space: “We actually have had to turn some people away because we want a certain brand level. There are outlets and there are outlets.”

The project is estimated to cost between $250 and $275 million, and if all goes as planned, it will be complete in 2016. The Wheel developer Richard Marin hopes to break ground next year and open on July 4, 2016. Are you ready, Staten Island?