By Linda O’Flanagan
It’s been a long and challenging road, but the Durst Organization is confident that Front Street stores will be back in business soon — and better than before.
The company told Real Estate Weekly this week that leases have been signed with 11 out of the 12 original retail tenants washed out of the brick-and-cobblestone neighborhood by Hurricane Sandy.
The superstorm hit the South Street Seaport Historic District hard, with water rising seven feet or higher on ground floors.
The Durst Organization launched a major renovation of its historic Front Street property and hired Peter Braus of Lee and Associates NYC to handle lease negotiations for the street’s storefronts.
The retail spaces have been stripped down to the studs in order to get all the water out. The HVAC systems have also been moved from the ground floor up to the roof and all four electrical feeders are now above the flood line – changes made to protect against future storms.
Jordan Barowitz, the company’s director of external affairs, said that as part of the lease renewals, the developer provided work allowances to help the businesses — which include restaurants, a popular coffee shop, a dry cleaner and a dermatologist — rebuild.
“Some of the people who are returning have a significant following,” said Braus, citing Jack’s Coffee Shop and its many loyal regulars as one example. New tenants will be able to take advantage of daily visitors drawn to the block by the established tenants.
Barowitz said the retail should open this fall, noting that the residential units above have been open since July and “the building is filling up nicely.ˮ
The re-opening comes as Lower Manhattan retail takes its biggest step forward in years with several major developments being unveiled in coming months.
An upgrade and expansion of 200,000 s/f of retail at Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center) is scheduled for completion in 2014.
Another 65,000 s/f of commercial space is being developed at Fulton Center for completion in 2014. In 2015, Westfield World Trade will open 350,000 s/f of new retail, dining and entertainment space.
The Howard Hughes Corporation is initiating a major redevelopment initiative to transform the Seaport. The first phase will commence this October with the closure of Pier 17 to clear way for the development of 365,000 s/f of retail, dining, entertainment, and open space.
Later developments will include a remodel and reuse of the existing Link and Tin Buildings to incorporate a specialty food market.
According to the Downtown Alliance, 23 new retailers arrived in the neighborhood during the second quarter of 2013, 30 per cent more than this time last year.
The openings include 19 bars and restaurants and four new stores and storefront services. Several more are expected to open soon. Bill’s Bar and Burger, a sit-down hamburger restaurant, opened in July in the New York Marriott Downtown at 85 West Street. The eatery is BR Guest Hospitality founder and CEO Stephen Hanson’s entry into the Lower Manhattan restaurant scene.
Storm-hit Abercrombie & Fitch, Superdry, and Local Charm all reopened in early July at 199 Water Street.
Retailers and restaurants coming soon include Planet Fitness, which will open its seventh Manhattan location and first Lower Manhattan location at 25 Broadway; Open Kitchen, a gourmet coffee shop and market, will open at 15 William Street; Urban Outfitters, plans to open its first Lower Manhattan location this fall, at 180 Broadway.
Brookfield has announced several retailers have signed leases for the Brookfield Place retail redevelopment including Hermes, Michael Kors, Burberry, Calypso St. Barth, Equinox gym, and a major culinary market operated by restaurateur Peter Poulakakos