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Nonstop Shopping
More than 635,000 square feet of retail taking shape at the World Trade Center.
The new Fulton Street Transit Center looking west toward the World Financial Center.
Courtesy MTA

In late October, the MTA announced it would lease 70,000 square feet of retail at the $1.4 billion Fulton Street Transit Center to a single operator who will manage and rent out the space. With the announcement, downtown Manhattan’s vast multi-grade retail landscape comes further into focus. After the MTA makes their firm selection, three major shopping centers will be connected via underground transit hubs and pedestrian passageways. The Westfield Group is in the midst of planning 365,000 square feet of World Trade Center (WTC) retail, and Brookfield is revamping 200,000 square feet at the World Financial Center. On completion, commuters will be able to shop and eat indoors all the way from Broadway to the Hudson River. A grand total of 635,000 square feet does not include 90,000 planned for the pending Two World Trade.

Multi-level retail and destination restaurants at the Fulton Street station.

At Fulton, the MTA, in a departure from |its landlord role at Grand Central, will focus on running trains, not curating vendors. The main building, designed by Grimshaw Architects with Arup, employs a multifaceted circular glass atrium within a glass cubed-shaped curtain wall. At street side, market cafes will wrap around the atrium, dubbed the oculus, and retail will take up the interior walls. The second level is intended for destination restaurants, while the third floor awaits an anchor tenant. More retail can be found below at concourse and platform levels. The underground Dey Street passageway, devoid of retail, will take commuters toward the Calatrava-designed WTC Transportation Hub.

With much of the focus on the oculus, the project’s incorporation of the 1888 Francis Kimball-designed Corbin Building next door tends to be overlooked. MTA renderings show a restored 19th century clubby interior revived as a destination restaurant.

Westfield will be responsible for all retail at the World Trade Center. The company expects to finalize their agreement with the Port Authority next month and will spend more than $612 million on the retail environment, which will run over many levels at the WTC Transportation Hub, connecting concourses through to Three and Four World Trade. At Three and Four, the stores will meet the street and continue above grade. Retail intended for Two World Trade awaits financing for the tower as a whole. From the Hub, commuters can shop in concourses that lead to the World Financial Center, where Brookfield then takes up the baton.

The new retail corridor at the World Financial Center (left) and the new pavilion entrance on West Street (right).
Courtesy Brookfield

Brookfield’s $250 million renovation of Cesar Pelli’s late 1980s World Financial Center ensemble includes preserving the Grand Staircase and balcony overlooking the World Trade site. Both are contained in a pavilion that juts out east toward West Street. The prime spot beneath the staircase is expected to be leased by a fashion or luxury tenant. Overlooking the Hudson, Brookfield plans a “locavores marketplace” featuring locally grown produce. Here, pedestrians may finally be enticed to come up for air and take a café seat overlooking the Hudson—outdoors!

Tom Stoelker