Saturday, September 29, 2012

Woodbury Commons Mall for Brooklyn Waterfront?

Interest among developers in bringing a Woodbury Commons-like outlet mall to the city appears to be ballooning, with three real estate companies now vying to build New York's first discount shopping—each with its own borough in mind. Following similar proposals from Staten Island and the Bronx, one Brooklyn landlord thinks that their property next to Ikea in Red Hook would be even better.

Following recent reports that the Lightstone Group has its eye on the Bronx and that BFC Partners is pitching his own project on Staten Island, reports are that Thor Equities is mulling the possibility of adding an outlet mall along the Brooklyn waterfront.

"New York definitely needs one," said Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities, adding that a handful of developers and more than a dozen retailers have approached him in recent months about transforming the site of the former Revere Sugary Refinery in Red Hook into a spot for discount duds. "And Brooklyn would probably be the most successful location."

Mr. Sitt has proposed several ambitious projects in the past for the 660,000-square-foot parcel he owns between the Ikea superstore and Fairway supermarket in Red Hook. His earlier proposals include a BJ's Wholesale Club and a student-housing complex. Thor Equities has not committed to an outlet mall at the site. "So far, we've just been listening to the sudden blitz of interest."

Thor's potential rivals in the Bronx and Staten Island appear to be much further along in their plans. The Lightstone Group, which paid $30 million for a nearly 1-million-square-foot property in the Bronx's Castle Hill neighborhood in May, has already met with borough officials. The Manhattan real estate company would not need any government approvals to build a mall because it is an as-of-right site that is already zoned for all commercial uses except large outdoor amusements.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Bloomberg administration is in "advanced talks" with BFC Partners about building a 500,000-square-foot outlet mall near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. But no deal on the proposal has been reached.