NEW YORK — Retail is a $78 billion-a-year industry that is central to New York City’s rebound, and opportunities are available here thanks in part to real estate development growth in all five boroughs, said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
He was the morning general session keynote speaker at ICSC’s New York National Conference & Deal Making program Monday at the New York Hilton.
The growth in retail opportunities, though, doesn’t extend to apparel manufacturing jobs.
“We try very hard [to have to those jobs here], but the kind of jobs that can be here are the ones where you need to be near your customers,” Bloomberg said during a press conference after his presentation.
He explained that New York is ideal for firms where the manufacturing volume is small and at higher price points where the skill sets required are also available in the city.
“We want jobs that offer decent wages and benefits,” suggesting that perhaps some of the opportunities in manufacturing might not meet some of the preferred criteria for job creation here.
As for Wal-Mart entering the New York City market, the mayor said, “If they want to come, we should not say no to anyone.…There is a demand for Wal-Mart. We should have them here. If they thrive and survive, then there is great value added [to the community].”
During his presentation, Bloomberg noted that the New York City real estate market is the third largest in the nation, boosted in part by tourism. He invited ICSC attendees to “stay a few days” because the city welcomes the sales tax generated by purchases while they are in town.
“We’ve created the potential for millions of additional square feet of retail,” Bloomberg boasted.
The mayor noted the creation of affordable housing in areas that had been vacant or abandoned that in turn has formed communities where there’s a demand for residential, shopping and entertainment space. He cited the mixed-use Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which has “close to a quarter-of-a-million square feet” of retail space and the $3 billion regeneration of Willets Point, Queens, which includes a one million-square-foot mall and entertainment center. Also cited was the Prestige Properties retail project in the Bronx, where a new mall consisting of three floors at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center will total 780,000 square feet, as well as the abandoned Stapleton Homeport naval yard in Staten Island, which was recently sold and will be redeveloped into a space combining residential and shopping components.
He told attendees that overseas retailers want to be in New York City, citing the opening of Uniqlo’s largest flagship on Fifth Avenue.
“New York City has a value proposition that no place else [in the world] can match,” Bloomberg said.