NEW YORK — The suspense — or at least some of it — is over.
This story first appeared in the November 17, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Westfield World Trade Center has finally released a partial tenant roster, which includes Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, John Varvatos and Turnbull & Asser. Kors will have a “flagship presentation,” said Greg Miles, chief operating officer of Westfield Corp., without confirming the size of the store. There is believed to be three store-size ranges: From 800 square feet to 1,000 square feet; 3,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet, and 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. The average size of a store is about 2,200 square feet and there are about 150 store spaces.
Kors will have a big presence in lower Manhattan; the designer in 2013 signed a lease for a 1,700-square-foot store at Brookfield Place, the competing retail project across the street from Westfield World Trade Center that has attracted luxury players and contemporary brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermès, Burberry, Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna, Scoop and Calypso and will have 250,000 square feet of retail space when it opens in March.
“We’re broadly 12 months away [from opening],” Miles said of Westfield World Trade Center, which is scheduled to open in fall 2015. “We always said that we were really after a curated mix for retailers.”
With 350,000 square feet of retail space available now — an additional 90,000 square feet will be delivered when Tower Two is built at a yet-to-be-determined time — Westfield is addressing a diverse population. “We thought it was incredibly important to have a mix that would satisfy three key groups: the growing residential community, the office-worker population and the tourist market,” Miles said, adding that the latter group will swell with the opening of the World Trade Center observation deck next year and the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel.
Hugo Boss will have a store that’s “larger than most,” Miles said.
“Being in Westfield World Trade Center puts us right in the middle of the new Lower Manhattan, which is fast becoming one of the most vibrant and energetic places in New York City,” said Cristiano Quieti, president and chief executive officer of John Varvatos. “Our store will be a unique and one-of-a-kind presentation of the brand, tailored to the large and diversified audience of international and local visitors we are expecting.”
“We recognize that there’s a large male population, and we have some male favorites. But it’s not going to be overly skewed toward men,” Miles said, pointing out that several brands will offer men’s and women’s assortments.
Other retailers will include Montblanc, Breitling, Zadig & Voltaire, Reiss, Desigual, Tumi, Bose, Vince Camuto, Camper, Asics, MAC, Kiehl’s and Aesop.
Asking rents, depending on location, are in the $450-a-square-foot range, with added costs such as a percentage of sales, according to sources. Retail sources said “the project doesn’t have a ton of space. They’re trying to get a lot of retailers in there. They have to limit how big these guys all go.”
“The leasing isn’t complete,” said Miles. “A lot of other retailers are in the advanced stages of negotiations.” The names Westfield released to WWD represent about 15 percent of the center’s total roster. “If you combine that with food, it would add another 10 percent to 15 percent,” he said. “The names are a taste of what we’re doing. There’s obviously many more deals done, but putting out a list of 50 or 100 names didn’t make sense. There’s just a handful of spaces left” that aren’t spoken for.
Asked about retailers that have reportedly shown interest in Westfield World Trade, such as Tiffany & Co., Apple and J.Lindeberg, Miles said some of the brands are relevant and some have moved on. “Tiffany and Apple are still very relevant,” he said. Sources said brands such as Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford and Cartier may be waiting for the completion of Tower Three in 2016 or 2017, where multilevel, street-fronted stores will be located.
Westfield World Trade is expected to do $700 million to $1 billion in annual retail sales and $2,000 to $3,000 in sales per square foot. “It will be one of the top retail facilities in the world,” Miles claimed.
Westfield placed a premium on fashion early on. “Fashion gives the space a sense of energy,” he said.
In July, Westfield entered into a wide-ranging partnership with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, one of many cultural alliances it plans to establish. The center will be a key supporter of the 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund gala in November. A concept shop will open in the Oculus, highlighting collections from past and present CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists. Beneath the Oculus, which will be covered by retractable glass, 30,000 square feet of column-free space has been set aside for events such as fashion shows, art exhibitions and community gatherings.
The Oculus, designed by star architect Santiago Calatrava, is the centerpiece of the Westfield development, rising 150 feet at the highest part of its ceiling. It has generated controversy for its appearance and for its complexity of design, which some say has delayed the opening of the center. Formed by a series of riblike structures that rise from below street level to above ground, the Oculus has about 80,000 square feet of retail space, on two levels arrayed in a circle.
Retail space will be located in other parts of the complex. The West Concourse contains 42,000 square feet of retail space, on two levels set behind rib-shaped steel beams. The opening of the cavernous West Concourse in October 2013 created a pedestrian link between Westfield World Trade Center, Brookfield Place and the New York Waterway Ferry Terminal. A complementary concourse will allow pedestrians to walk from the West Side to the East, with a corridor from Brookfield Place to Westfield World Trade Center to Fulton Center to the east side of Wall Street.
The West Concourse was peaceful on a recent day, its gleaming white marble-covered walls and floors giving a luxe air to the transit corridor. The retail here will be geared to commuters and office workers with quick food and drink options as well as services. Another facet of the project is dining. While the West Concourse will be cash-and-carry, there will be more serious food options such as an Eataly branch tailored to the neighborhood. “Food has an opportunity to be much better than it is downtown,” Miles said.
Westfield is planning to open “some type of salon services and a concierge inspired by the best hotel services,” Miles said. The latter could be powered by Westfield Labs, the developer’s Silicon Valley-based research and development arm. “[Technology] is a key priority,” Miles said. “There will be an element of that. Clearly, we’re very conscious of the convergence of online and physical stores. We’ll certainly be using Westfield Labs to further advance ideas. A lot of online retailers are now establishing a physical presence. It’s certainly an emerging trend.”
Westfield in 1999 partnered with developer Larry Silverstein in a joint retail and office bid for the World Trade Center. “We bought the [retail] in 2001 and settled it all a couple months before 9/11,” Miles said. The journey to finished space, which is not over, has been long and complicated and expensive. Westfield has had to work under city and state governments’ watchful eyes, respect sacred ground and deal with various advocacy groups. Miles said Westfield World Trade was designed in consideration of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which is in the retail project’s backyard. When all are completed, towers one through four will surround the museum and reflecting pools. “There’s no commercial activity directed toward the pools,” Miles said. “There are no shops facing the reflecting pools.”
Competition in lower Manhattan is heating up as the number of residents has grown to more than 60,000. The makeup of the 454,000 office-worker population is also changing as financial firms decamp to other locations and media, creative and technology companies move downtown.
“Westfield World Trade Center is going to have a broad range of retailers, from luxury and better brands to mainstream retailers to a lot of unique and hip stores,” said Andrew Goldberg, a retail broker at CBRE. “There will be so many people walking through the project on a daily basis that you need to cater to more than just one tier of customer.”