What Columbus Circle's Subway Retail Will Look Like
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The retail concourse below Columbus Circle opens spring 2015, the first NYC transit station to get a shot in the arm from private investment. Meet the woman who last month won the MTAâ€™s three-year-old RFP.
We snapped Columbus Development's Susan Fine in the two-and-a-half-block corridor where she and equity partners have a 30-year lease and are investing $7M to open 26 to 30 500 SF stores and five or six kiosks. Robin Abrams and the rest of her leasing team from Lansco have done eight LOIs this month. Behind Susan are a fraction of the 21 million commuters who walk through the Columbus Circle turnstiles every year. That includes the 2,000 people who work at Hearst, where one of the five concourse exits leads.
Here's a preliminary concept rendering. Susan acknowledges the need for balance, considering the affluent Upper West Siders above ground and the cross-section of New Yorkers riding the subway (not to mention that woman running in a red dress, who'll need to buy jogging shorts). She's aiming for the right mix of national tenants and new, quirky concepts. The stores will sell portable dry goods like makeup, watches, cards, gifts, and, of course, food, and they'll be open 12 hours a day, five days a week, she tells us. Weekends are a possibility, depending on shopping activity.
This rotunda at the southern end is just begging to be a market, Susan says. She's kicking around a wine-and-cheese concept or a Grand Central Market-ish spot. She'd know how to make that work, considering she's the former director of real estate for MTA, overseeing Grand Central's 1994 renovation and curating its 155k SF of retail. Among the early projects on the Columbia and Hunter urban planning prof's resume are Boston's Faneuil Hall and Lower Manhattan's World Financial Center (now Brookfield Place).
If it all works, Columbus Circle could be a prototype for transit-oriented retail from LGA to a train station in Spain. (We suggest a slicker store, as the rain in Spain stays mainly on the train.) And Susan's project is happening in a new retail corridor, leading north to Time Warner Center and east toward the seven-story Nordstrom, going up at Extell's site on 58th Street, which we also snapped.