An architectural rendering of the proposed Empire Outlets, a retail complex along the North Shore of Staten Island's waterfront.
An architectural rendering of the proposed Empire Outlets, a retail complex along the North Shore of Staten Island’s waterfront. (Courtesy of Shop Architects)

Empire Outlets, New York City’s first and only retail outlet complex, has signed a lease with Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. to open a Nordstrom Rack, along the north shore of Staten Island’s waterfront.

BFC Partners is the developer of Empire Outlets, a nearly 350,000-square-foot retail complex, being constructed in the St. George neighborhood along Richmond Terrace. The complex will be positioned next to the Staten Island ferry terminal that handles about 65,000 passengers daily. As the first retail tenant, Nordstrom Rack has leased 34,000 square feet for a two-level store, expected to open in the fall of 2016.

“We’ve been focused on finding the best locations across New York City,” Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, said in a statement. This will be the high-end retailer’s seventh Nordstrom Rack in the New York area.

Lori Kilberg, a partner at Hartman Simons & Wood in Atlanta, represented BFC.

Nordstrom’s Jenny Dubow, a senior counsel in Seattle, was in-house counsel on the lease.

“We’re excited that Nordstrom Rack, one of the premier retail brands in the country, will anchor Empire Outlets,” Joseph Ferrara, a principal at BFC Partners, along with principals Donald Capoccia and Brandon Baron, said in a joint statement.

The parties declined to discuss the financial arrangements pertaining to the lease. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that BFC has a 99-year lease with the city for the site with the intention to make annual monetary contributions to areawide maintenance.

Overall the Empire Outlets project is expected to $480 million in private investment, create more than 1,200 construction jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs and bring nearly $100 million in net tax revenue to the city over the next 30 years, according to a New York City Economic Corp. 2012 report. An Associated Press report from December elevated the investment amount to $500 million because of project adjustments related to Hurricane Sandy.

“We are raising the bar for Staten Island with the development of the Empire Outlets,” said John Pitera, a managing partner at Casandra Properties Inc., which is handling retail leases for the outlets.

Plans include about 100 designer outlet retailers as well as restaurants and cafes with views of the New York harbor and Manhattan.There also will be a 190-room hotel and about 40,000 square feet of restaurant space plus a three-level parking garage with about 1,250 spaces.

“The development of the new North Shore is a very exciting time,” said borough president James Oddo. “The outlet mall is one of the ‘Core Four’ projects— nearly a billion dollars in private investment along this corridor—that has us excited and optimistic.”

Over a two-mile stretch, the four projects include: Empire Outlets; the New York Wheel, which will be the world’s largest observation wheel; the National Lighthouse Museum, along with Triangle Equities’ Lighthouse Point that will include the development of a residential building, hotel, retail stores and restaurants and the restoration of four historic buildings; and the construction of the Stapleton Waterfront project by Ironstate Development Company that will contain about 30,000 square feet of retail space, about 900 residential units, and public spaces.

In business since 1901, Nordstrom is one of the leading specialty retailers with 271 stores across 36 states. Nordstrom Rack is the “off-price retail division of Nordstrom.” Its first store in Manhattan opened on Union Square in 2010. The retailer recently announced that new Nordstrom Rack will open in Queens in September and another will open in Brooklyn in October.

BFC was founded more than 30 years ago and since its inception has completed more than $1.5 billion in development projects, including more than 6,000 residential units and millions of square feet in mixed-use development. In May, BFC Partners was the recipient of a 2014 MAXI award presented by International Council of Shopping Centers for its leasing marketing campaign for Empire Outlets.

In addition to Pitera, James Prendamano, a managing partner at Casandra Properties, handles retail leasing on behalf of Empire Outlets.

Stephen Stephanou, a principal at Crown Retail Services, acted on behalf of Nordstrom. Stephanou, who has a J.D. and practiced law for 10 years, is a member of the California State Bar.


International advertising company Rocket Fuel Inc. has relocated its New York City office a short distance to 100 W. 33rd St., from 129 W. 29th St. The new office is located in the more than 1-million –square-foot office tower of the Manhattan Mall, between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

Rocket Fuel is an online media-buying platform that provides advertising solutions. It has a 10-year lease with Vornado Realty Trust for 90,000 square feet at the West 33rd Street building and has more than quadrupled the space than it had at its former location.

“Rocket Fuel has experienced rapid growth worldwide, with New York City being our second largest location only to our headquarters in Redwood City, Calif.,” said Kirk Thompson, Rocket Fuel’s director of real estate and facilities.

James McCann, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, in Palo Alto, Calif., represented Rocket Fuel.

Vornado was represented by in-house real estate counsel and senior vice president Pamela Caruso.

The asking rate in the Midtown area is in the mid-$70s per square foot, according to Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s (NGKF) second quarter office report.

Commercial Newmark Knight Frank (C&CCNKF) and its national partner NGKF assisted Rocket Fuel on its expansions. Rocket Fuel’s “sound business model and smart technology is driving national and international expansion at an impressive rate,” Kristoph Lodge, a senior vice president at Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank (C&CCNKF), said in a statement.

As of March 2014, the company had 710 employees worldwide, up 87 percent from March 2013.

Launched in 2008 in Redwood City, Rocket Fuel has offices in 20 countries and opened a New York City office in 2009. The company applies new technologies such as artificial intelligence to process “big data” for digital advertisers.

Vornado is one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the country with more than 100 million square feet, primarily located in the New York and Washington., D.C. areas, according to its website.

Vornado’s Jared Solomon, vice president, leasing; Craig Panzirer, senior vice president and director of Penn Plaza portfolio; and Glen Weiss, senior vice president and director of leasing, internally handled the lease.

NGKF’s Scott Brown, managing director, and Robert Silver, executive managing director, acted on behalf of Rocket Fuel. In addition to Lodge, Jack Troedson, an executive vice president and principal at C&CCNKF, assisted the tenant.