Real Estate Weekly caught up with Brookfield Properties’ Edward Hogan, national director of retail leasing, at ICSC’s RECon on Monday afternoon. Hogan’s focus for the conference this year is the leasing of the retail space in Brookfield Place, the complex formerly know as the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan.
Brookfield Place’s 250,000 s/f of retail space is scheduled to re-open in the fall of 2014, after $250 million in renovations.
So far the company has announced eight tenants for the planned high-end food court, and two fashion retailers: Burberry and Michael Kors. Additional lease announcements will be coming this summer, Hogan said, including a 35,000-40,000 s/f fitness center, another round of food court tenants and a selection of fashion retailers chosen to capture the loyalty of lower Manhattan’s growing population of wealthy residents and office workers.
“We want every tenant to be reflective of the new Downtown,” Hogan said. “Brookfield is one of the largest owners of property in Downtown Manhattan, and we really think this is an opportunity for us to create kind of the heart and soul of this new Downtown, this new neighborhood that is emerging that is the Tribeca residents, the Battery Park City family, it is the office worker – whether they’re Conde Nast or Goldman or Bank of America – it’s all those different types of individuals coming together.”
Asking rents in the center range from $200 to $400 psf, Hogan said, depending on the size and location of the space.
The food court tenants are made up of smaller businesses scouted from around the country, favoring tenants such as the Manhattan-based taco vendor Dos Toros, which will have a location in the renovated space, over national chains like Chipotle.
“We’re looking at something that’s more New York. … I love Chipotle – I go there once a week and I’m always happy – but Chipotle does not talk about New York; it talks about a brand that’s national. Dos Toros talks about New York, it has point of view on New York. It’s not as good credit; for me as a landlord it’s a bigger risk. But it helps me make a place.
“With every tenant we’re looking at that. With the fashion retailers, there might be a brand that is all across the nation that is a safer bet. But I might pick the hipper, more New York brand. And you might be happy shopping at either one, but if I have the choice I’m going to forgo necessarily the better credit for the better fashion, because I think that mix is going to make my neighborhood all that more special.”
The much commented-on influx of residents and new office tenants, spearheaded by Conde Nast’s decision to relocate to the World Trade center, presents a still largely untapped resource for retailers, Hogan said.
And from Brookfield’s perspective, a strong retail mix will do good things for the office space that makes up the majority of the center.
“If we create this amazing neighborhood it’s only going to lift the rents upstairs, and we have 8 million s/f upstairs. It allows us to make our front door more dynamic,” Hogan said.
“Ultimately we want the person who works at Brookfield Place to come down to the first two floors and feel like they’ve left work, and they’re in this neighborhood, and the neighborhood’s on the water and has views of the park across the street and it’s an exciting neighborhood. They’ll say: ‘I’ll meet you in Brookfield Place after work even though you live in Midtown, because it’s such a great place to hang out.’”