Monday, April 20, 2015

Mega Project Celebrates Groundbreaking on Staten Island

Developers celebrated the groundbreaking of Empire Outlets, a catalytic project that will create over 1,800 jobs and bring millions in private investment on the North Shore of Staten Island.  A 340,000 square foot retail complex, Empire Outlets will offer increased amenities and shopping opportunities for residents and visitors at 100 designer outlet stores. The project will feature a 630-foot observation wheel - billed as the largest in the Western Hemisphere - with a view of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline. The development, which will be built with union labor, will dramatically reshape the St. George waterfront. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2016.

What will be the world's second tallest observation 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 $535 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 100 stores, generally higher-end retailers.

Public officials called it a "momentous day for Staten Island," saying it will create 1,800 jobs and draw millions of visitors each year.  (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 2, 2013)

The project will result in the creation of the 630-foot-high observation wheel and will include restaurant space, a 190-room hotel, two 4D theaters, a catering facility, an exhibition hall and a parking structure for more than 1,200 vehicles. The 16-acre site currently features at-grade parking lots. Empire Outlets will also feature pedestrian walkways to the water and a sustainable green roof.

Along with 100 designer outlet retailers, the development will have a gourmet dining destination with a variety of restaurants and cafes.

Among the national brands joining Empire Outlets are Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store, White House Black Market, Guess Factory Store, U.S. Polo Assn., Columbia Sportswear, Innovation Luggage, Wilson's Leather, G.H. Bass & Co., Lids, Obey Your Body, Starbucks and Walgreens.

The Empire Outlets and New York Wheel developments flank the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the minor league Staten Island Yankees, and rise from the site of two large surface parking lots at the ferry landing.

SHoP Architects designed the $285 million mixed-use outlet mall-entertainment-hotel complex at Empire Outlets to relate to the surrounding Staten Island community while still providing a monumental presence on the waterfront and ferry landing.

The Ferris wheel on the north side of the ballpark will top the current title holder, the Singapore Flyer, by 84 feet and dwarfing other iconic wheels like the London Eye which stands just over 440 feet tall. The $250 million wheel will contain 36 football-shaped pods carrying 40 passengers each for the 38 minute ride. (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sept 27, 2012)

Initially, differences over labor agreements for construction of Empire Outlets appeared to pose the greatest risk to the project.

BFC Partners had maintained that the economics did not allow for fully-unionized construction, even if unions were to submit to a project-labor agreement offering cost savings from the typical unionized project with its complex work rules and robust wages.

The developer's stance changed after government funding was added to the deal to help offset the cost of union labor. (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, July 1, 2012)

The developer also intends to hire 25 percent minority and women-owned business enterprises. The 100 stores that will call Empire Outlets home will also hire locally.

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