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BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | A representative from Brookfield Office Properties talked retail, construction and North Cove Marina at Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee meeting Tuesday.
David Cheikin, senior vice president of leasing for Brookfield Office Properties, said that Brookfield Place has 46 tenants with a few more locations to fill.
“There’s probably another six or eight spaces that are unspoken for,” said Cheikin, who said there was real interest in those spots.
“The goal is not just to launch a retail space,” he said. “The goal is to launch something that has long-term staying power because we want this to continue to thrive for 15, 20 years.
“So you need to make sure that the tenants that are there have adjacencies that compliment the other tenants because otherwise their businesses will fail and that’s counterproductive for what we’ve been trying to accomplish.”
The committee was interested in one of the tenants, Posman Books, and asked if it was a big bookstore.
“They’re coming out of Grand Central,” Cheikin said of the store which is also in Chelsea Market and Rockefeller Center. “It’s not a Barnes & Noble scale. The intention is that it’s supposed to act like a community bookstore. They don’t really compete with Amazon that you’re going out there and get the next best seller.”
Committee member Tom Goodkind said “it looks like the new stores are being replaced with very high-end [ones]. We’ve lived through the many different changes of what’s now called Brookfield. There hasn’t been that much sustaining power. We wish you the best of luck with the new tenants.”
Brookfield Place’s list of retail stores to come includes Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo, Zegna, Scoop, Theory, Judith & Charles, Michael Kors, Calypso, Bonobos, Aspinal of London, Diane von Furstenberg, Equinox, Paul Smith, J. Crew, Vince, Cos Bar, Davidoff Cigars, Satya Jewelry, Babesta, Vilebrequin, Tory Burch and Saks Fifth Avenue, which at 75,000 sq. ft. is the anchor store and will open in 2016. A Brookfield spokesperson said in an email that a number of these retailers are expected to be open by March 26, when the public areas of the complex will also be open, but did not say which stores would open first.
Goodkind suggested that Brookfield host shopping nights for the community or give special family discounts — especially as stores such as Banana Republic and the Gap are being replaced by high-end shops such as Tory Burch.
“That’s something I would like you to take under consideration,” said Goodkind. “Over the course of history in that area, we have had family nights, special events. We really hope that you continue with that so that we can all take pleasure in these new stores.”Cheikin did not respond as Goodkind moved to another topic of allowing residents passageway through the complex.
Goodkind said that he tried to walk through on Friday night but that his group was turned away at the midpoint.
Cheikin apologized, calling it a one-off incident that was probably due to construction going on at that corridor at that moment.
“We have truly tried to be as — spent a lot of money and a lot of time and effort to make sure that we tried to keep 24-hour access where required to allow that passageway to go through,” he said.
Kathleen Gupta, another committee member, asked whether Charlie and Carmine Colletti’s Cobbler Express Shoe Repair lease situation had been resolved. Charlie Colletti opened his shop at 200 Liberty St. at the formerly named World Financial Center over 26 years ago. The brothers have signed a lease for one more year.
Gupta asked whether there were any other original businesses left.
“Charlie’s probably the last,” said Cheikin. “He knows that we would love to keep him. We have told him that if there is a spot for him, he is obviously the person that we’re going to use for shoe repair. We were very open and honest with him, we said, ‘Please stay where you are in the interim. We’re not kicking you out or anything.’
“I would love to tell you that we definitely have a spot for him, but I don’t want to be here and tell you something that I can’t live up to,” he added.
The Battery Park City Authority’s request for proposal, or R.F.P., for a marina operator at North Cove sparked rallies in support of Michael Fortenbaugh, who ran it for ten years. The B.P.C.A. awarded the bid to Brookfield Office Properties and Island Global Yachting at their January meeting.
The committee’s chairperson, Anthony Notaro, asked if Brookfield could come back after the contract for North Cove Marina is finalized and present its objectives and vision.
“We’d be happy to,” said Cheikin. “The short is — is that the R.F.P that was put out, we’ve read all the press and we know exactly how people feel about it. The R.F.P. that was put out by Battery Park City Authority required every bidder to operate the marina in a very similar fashion. Everyone had to run a marina. Everyone had to run a community-based sailing school and our intention was never to truly change the use of it.”
He said that Brookfield will probably not run a yacht club out of the marina in the short term because it serves a smaller population.
“We look at the marina as an area that can be greatly improved in terms of community access,” he said. “We think that there’s probably ways that we can attract the population down there on a more day-to-day basis that appeals to everyone from the passersby to the rest of us.”
On Jan. 29, five elected officials requested a meeting with B.P.C.A. Chairperson Dennis Mehiel “regarding the public amenities offered at the North Cove Marina.” State Senator Daniel Squadron, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmember Margaret Chin and Assemblymember Sheldon Silver signed the letter that stated “this community-based programming is absolutely essential.”
A Squadron spokesperson said in an email that they hope to meet with authority in the next month. Robin Forst, the authority’s vice president of external relations, said in an email that the B.P.C.A. has reached out to the elected officials to tell them they look forward to meeting, but a date has yet to be set.