It’s a new day for retail in lower Manhattan. The names behind Westfield World Trade Center aim to make a big statement with the $1.4 billion development set to open next week on Aug. 16.
A decade after the project was first announced by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — and nearly 15 years after the devastating Sept. 11 attacks in lower Manhattan — Westfield World Trade Center will unveil more than 365,000 square feet of retail space housing 120-plus stores.
The development sits adjacent to the One World Trade Center tower and was designed by well-known architect Santiago Calatrava. It is connected to New York’s commuter rail line and transit hub, creating a desirable blend of workers, tourists and residents coming into the area. A number of top companies have moved downtown in the past year.
Westfield hopes to rack up between $700 million and $1 billion in sales annually and attract about 300,000 people a day. Westfield VP, general manager Steve Roche said the mall was designed as a lifestyle center to fill a need in the area. “Our vision was really bringing out the best of New York,” said Roche. “ We wanted to have [the area] covered sunup to sundown.”
The center boasts recognizable eateries including Eataly and amenities including an Apple store and pharmacy and coffee shops. Camper, Ugg, Skechers and Under Armour are among top shoe stores at the center. The lineup of designer stores includes John Varvatos, Dior and Stuart Weitzman. Aldo, Sam Edelman and Vince Camuto round out contemporary fashion segment of the center.
“The stores read like a who’s who of iconic global brands, and we’re thrilled to take part in this huge retail phenomenon,” said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers. “Consumer interest is already tremendous, the foot traffic will be massive, and we can’t wait to welcome the swarms of locals and tourists who will be walking this center every day.”
Brands are using the high-profile space to test out store concepts and digital initiatives for other locations. Aldo, for example, is introducing a store that plays up technology. Shoppers at Westfield will be pinged on their smartphones to download Aldo’s App when they enter the center and will have access to Aldo’s “endless shelf” of product. Associates will also be equipped with a tablet app to better serve shoppers.
“Our aim is to speak to the Aldo customer in a way that is personal and relevant. This starts by being able to connect wherever they are, on whichever device they may be using,” said Valérie Vedrines, VP of marketing commercialization for Aldo.
Ugg said its new store would take elements from the new Disney Springs location including a relaxed, reimagined interior and added technological elements.
“This is one of the most exciting retail projects happening in North America right now so we’re thrilled Ugg is a part of what we feel will be a pinnacle experience for our customer,” said Gerard Marceda, Ugg’s VP of Retail North America. “We are also working to unveil upgraded services that further bridge the gap between on and offline shopping. These new services will make WTC the most elevated shopping experience for our customers.”
On the fashion end, John Varvatos CEO and president Mark Brashear said that knowing how many Varvatos customers already commute to work or live in lower Manhattan, and the number of tourists in the area made it especially appealing. He added that the legacy and identity of Varvatos as a New York brand made being at World Trade Center as a statement critical.
“The symbolic reason of the historical rebirth of the downtown area and overcoming adversity, those things we feel proud to be a part of,” said Brashear.
As a part of the opening on Aug. 16, Westfield will open the mall to the public at noon for a Family Day of music and activities. Westfield said it was important to recognize the family aspect of the center at the opening, as it was a very symbolic moment.
Sam Edelman, founder and president of his namesake brand, said the store was an emotionally important one. “I was born and raised in New York and have witnessed the tragedies and triumphs of this city,” Edelman said. “I hope that the retail experience Westfield is bringing to downtown is another step toward the great revival of the World Trade Center.”