New York City’s first outlet center is opening this week.
Empire Outlets is a 340,000-square-foot (31,600-square-meter) mall located on Staten Island, featuring many traditional retail brands, including American Eagle, Banana Republic, Nike, Old Navy and more.
“We really wanted to skew and change what outlet shopping was really all about,” said Joe Ferrara, a principal at BFC Partners, developer of the $450 million project with a unit of Goldman Sachs Group, according to Bloomberg. “You’re going to have people flock to the stores and look at the view and make it a social media moment — social media is today’s currency.”
Aside from the shopping opportunities (the center is about 80 percent leased), Empire is also home to waterfront restaurants and will host events such as jazz bands, petting zoos and fashion shows to attract visitors to the location.
But Ferrara is counting on the discounts offered by the retailers to help Empire Outlets set itself part from other shopping opportunities, including the Shops at Hudson Yards, a $2 billion luxury mall on Manhattan’s west side.
“We’re a very different customer from Hudson Yards — we’re a center for all people,” Ferrara said. “From denim to diamonds.”
He added that tourists will probably make up a large part of the outlet’s shopping demographic. In fact, BFC Partners is in discussions with cruise lines about setting up excursions to Empire Outlets.
Ferrara also hopes to attract some of the 22 million people who ride the Staten Island Ferry every year. While many riders are commuting between work and home, some of the passengers are riding to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The outlets now give them a reason to disembark, said Ferrara.
“We’re definitely not your typical outlet center located on the side of a highway in the middle of the state somewhere,” he said. “We’re very, very New York-centric, from our public spaces to our design.”