By: Daniella Doria
Mall operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which said it plans to unload most or all of its US shopping centers by the end of 2023, might find the World Trade Center retail complex anchored by the Oculus a hard sell, reports The New York Post.
Industry insiders are saying that the 365,000 square-foot WTC shopping complex might fetch much less than the $1.4 billion that Westfield paid the land-owning Port Authority for the master lease. Westfield was acquired by Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco in 2017, writes Steve Cuozzo.
An ownership change would have implications for all of Downtown, which lags Midtown in overcoming the pandemic’s effects.
“We are at an important crossroads,” Downtown Alliance president Jessica Lappin said. “There’s great potential there. There are challenges with the way the space was designed, but an opportunity for change can be a catalyst.”
The mall’s weds it’s directory states it has over 80 tenants. The Oculus, its centerpiece, is mostly leased on its two levels to stores like Stuart Weitzman, Kate Spade, Cole Haan and Apple. Eataly, H&M and a few other large stores draw crowds to Four World Trade Center.
But certain enormous parts of the complex remain depressingly dark — especially the 75,000 square-foot retail base of Three World Trade Center. Two large restaurant deals there collapsed four years ago. (The office towers above the retail space at both Three and Four World Trade, which are nearly full, are separately owned by Silverstein Properties.)
The mall doesn’t have a single sit-down restaurant, only a “Gansevoort Liberty Market” food court and a few “fast-casual” spots — in glaring contrast to Brookfield Place next door, which boasts a half-dozen of them.
Most storefronts in the long, marble-clad West Concourse and in the southernmost leg of the South Concourse, remain shockingly empty, according to The New York Post report.
But Brandon Singer, founder and CEO of brokerage MONA, said the complex’s “design flaw is their biggest challenge. It’s confusing. I do this for a living and I still can’t figure out” the maze of corridors and escalators that lead only to more escalators. “Certain things have been relatively successful,” he said. But he added that Westfield’s refusal most to hire outside retail brokers “in the most broker-friendly city in the world” — dimmed chances for a full lease-up. (CBRE briefly repped Westfield a few years ago. It still reps the office space in Silverstein’s towers.)
“Certain things have been relatively successful,” Singer said. But he added that Westfield’s refusal most to hire outside retail brokers “in the most broker-friendly city in the world” — dimmed chances for a full lease-up.