Food With A View: Brookfield Properties’ Ed Hogan on Lower Manhattan’s Answer to Eataly
What about retail tenants?
When you’re a retailer and you’re good, that business model requires you to grow. You can have one really good restaurant, or a handful within walking distance in the same town, but when they get larger than that, it becomes more chain-like, and we’ve definitely steered away from that. On the fashion component, it’s the opposite. If you’re an up-and-coming designer, you’re going to be opening boutiques in all the right places across the globe.
We’ve looked at a collection that is luxury fashion. People don’t shop just high-end anymore, they really shop design. We’re looking at the collections that are offered by those designers—the quality of the garments, the details. We’re really looking at curating a nice collection so a customer can come in and shop multiple brands and walk out with what they need.
Do you find you need to make different decisions or balance between residents and those people that work in the area and live somewhere else? Or do you find that what you’re looking for is going to appeal to a broad range of shoppers?
If you look at the office residents that are west of Broadway in lower Manhattan, the West Side is becoming a hot office market. Those office tenants are the decision-makers, the CEOs, the top earners in those corporations, and that also mirrors who’s living in Battery Park City, who’s living Downtown and who is living in Tribeca. So it makes it a little easier for us that our residential population and our office population, in many cases, are one in the same.
You have a worldwide population touring the area. We are targeting to a certain segment of that population. We certainly cannot target the whole population.
What’s the time line for getting the retail operational and the marketplace running?
We are looking to open the dining terrace component—the fast-casual dining—in the first quarter of 2014. Our entire center will open in the third quarter of 2014. We’ll have a grand opening and all the stores will open in the fall of 2014.
Can you give us an overview of the layout and how the marketplace is going to look?
In the center of the marketplace will be this amazing butcher shop. There will be a fishmonger. There will be a cheese shop. There’s going to be a really unique wine shop. Then there will be a couple of restaurants within the marketplace. One of the restaurants will be a waiter-service restaurant that will be a very popular and dynamic restaurant. Then they are going to have a more casual restaurant that will mostly be in their outdoor seating area, which will be more of a seasonal restaurant.
They will also have different components in the marketplace. They will have fresh produce. They will have grab ’n’ go. They’ll have prepared food. You’ll be able to go there and grab all the ingredients and prepare a fabulous meal and also buy prepared foods and serve that up.
And a separate fast-casual dining area, correct? What will that look like?
That’s upstairs. The marketplace is about 25,000 square feet with about 8,000 square feet of outdoor dining, and upstairs is a 35,000-square-foot, fast-casual dining [area]. There are 14 purveyors there, we have announced eight of the lineup, and the rest are in lease at this point. It’s a beautifully proportioned space. There are 600 shared seats; you’re going to be feeling like you’re sitting in one of the best proportioned restaurants in the city.
You’ll have all these fast-casual eateries where you’ll be able to have a nice and affordable meal in a nice setting, overlooking the Hudson River and the harbor, and I think it will be a huge draw—not only for office workers. I think it’s going to be a second kitchen for the residents Downtown, and I think it’s going to be a huge draw for the tourists. You have an amazing view of the harbor, so we see that place busy morning, noon and night and all the way in between.
Lastly, how will the completed Brookfield Place fit into the Downtown neighborhood?
I think Brookfield Place is going to be the heart and soul of the new Downtown. It’s one place where neighborhood residents are going to come—the office workers are already here. The residents come through every day. A lot of them cut through to take their kids to school and cut through to take their kids back from school. I think the marketplace is going to pull those neighborhood residents in—just like a Whole Foods pulls their neighborhood residents in.