Jamestown Properties’ Michael Phillips on Feeding Chelsea
As chief operating officer of Jamestown Properties, Michael Phillips has helped create and oversee a portfolio of more than 80 properties across nine states, totaling over 25 million square feet. But the jewel in his and Jamestown’s crown may well be Chelsea Market, the wildly popular foodie mecca in the Meatpacking District. Jamestown is currently working on a contentious expansion of that Ninth Avenue destination that will result in an additional 330,000 square feet of office space (an earlier plan for a 90,000-square-foot hotel was scrapped).
The Commercial Observer grabbed a few minutes with Mr. Phillips inside Jamestown’s swank, canopied, free-crepe-dispensing booth at ICSC’s RECon global retail real estate summit in Las Vegas. There, the James Beard Foundation vice chair and Real Estate Board of New York governor shared some morsels about Jamestown’s unannounced plans for a second sit-down restaurant at Chelsea Market, its imminent foray into the Brooklyn culinary world, and marquee projects in Georgia and California.
The Commercial Observer: Let’s start by talking about the convention itself. I’ve been asking people how RECon 2013 compares with recent years past. Is the mood more upbeat?
Mr. Phillips: Sure. Clearly, I think people are expanding and retail is healthy. There’s demand. I think it’s very much a good time for the show.
Outside of the Jamestown booth, are there any you’ve made a big point of visiting?
I think [The McDevitt Company] is always a focus for us. But that’s a good question. It’s been so busy that it’s tough to get out of the booth sometimes.
What would you say is the Jamestown project that might be sparking the most conversations?
I think that Ponce City Market in Atlanta is really dynamic. We’re getting a lot of interest for this. It’s a two-million-square-foot adaptive reuse basically set to be Chelsea Market in Atlanta. I think that’s pretty exciting. We bought [seven assets in] downtown San Luis Obispo, California. That’s really unexpected and fantastic. It’s got the best demographics of a small coastal town, and Cal Poly’s based there.
In New York, we have Milk Studios retail. That’s a 13,000-foot box that’s getting unbelievable interest.
Which retailers, or types of retailers, have you been talking to about the Milk Studios space?
It’s soft goods. I would call it carriage trade—upper-middle. I don’t think it’s couture. It’s not microbrand couture.
Can you name anyone whom you’ve been talking to?
I can’t. I would be killed if I did.
So Milk’s there, and then 530 Fifth Avenue is pretty dynamic below it. That’s 44,000 feet. There’s a lot of exciting things happening on Fifth.
What’s the latest at 530 Fifth Avenue? That’s a fairly recent joint acquisition.
The lobby’s under renovation. It should deliver in the fall of this year. We’ve been doing sort of base building work to open up more space in the basement and offering a configuration plan. We have a corner 14,000-foot box and then an inline 25,000-foot box. There’s also the opportunity to go up to 44,000 foot in one swoop. That’s been tracking nicely, and we’re seeing a lot of activity come down Fifth Avenue.