Ed Hogan is the national director of retail leasing for Brookfield Properties and has a lead role in signing food vendors and retail tenants at the World Financial Center, soon to be renamed Brookfield Place. In the past month, Brookfield has inked deals with eight vendors and confirmed that the restaurateur Peter Poulakakos will operate the facility’s new marketplace. Mr. Hogan spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about his vision for Brookfield Place, the thought process behind choosing food and retail tenants, and how Brookfield Place will fit into lower Manhattan’s evolving landscape.
The Commercial Observer: What is your vision for Brookfield Place?
Mr. Hogan: Our vision is to create the most exciting, dynamic neighborhood in Downtown Manhattan. Brookfield Place is situated on the edge of the Hudson River, facing the New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty, and is truly one of the most special places in the city, with unparalleled views. Given the transformation that Downtown’s undergoing, we just view it as a great opportunity to create a dynamic neighborhood that is indicative of the people living, working and visiting Downtown today.
When you’re evaluating potential retail tenants and food vendors, what are you looking for? What are some of the common themes?
We always look for best-in-class, but in addition to that, we’re not looking for something that you can find anywhere else. We’re really looking for something indicative of Downtown and what it is evolving into, which is really one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the city. There are billions of dollars of new projects under construction in lower Manhattan, and you have not seen such an investment in such a small area in the U.S. With that many public and private projects, it’s going to be a very different place.
With our physical geography, it’s our proximity to the water. We sit right on the water’s edge, which is hard to find in New York. We think we have a great opportunity to bring together a collection of shops and restaurants that really speak about the future of Downtown Manhattan.
The population has doubled over the past 10 years to over 60,000 people living south of Chambers Street, but there’s also another 55,000 living in Tribeca, and those residents—whether they’re living in Battery Park City or Tribeca—are very well-heeled, well-educated, worldly residents, and [they] are used to having exposure to the best shops and restaurants in the world, and so they’re a very discerning customer to begin with.
We have some of the top corporations in Brookfield Place and the surrounding buildings, and you are seeing a diversification of the office space Downtown, with Condé Nast and other media companies looking Downtown. You are going to have a wider array of customers from the office tenancy. Then you have an international tourist population that has never existed before Downtown. There are few spots in the world where you have this true overlapping.
What do you look for in food tenants?
With the food tenants, we are looking at best-in-class, but also tenants that appeal to New Yorkers. We are spoiled in New York—we have the best restaurants. I think the average New Yorker has a sophisticated palate, and to impress them takes a lot of thought and a lot of work to bring in a collection that will resonate with New Yorkers and be a draw. Food is one of the few retail components that has really stayed local and gives you a flavor of what that neighborhood is about. So we have spent a lot of time on the food, bringing in some great local and some more international restaurateurs, chefs and purveyors. I’m very excited about our lineup.