After 15 Years, The World Trade Center Oculus Mall Opens
After 15 years of development, the World Trade Center’s 365k SF Oculus mall has finally opened.
The Santiago Calatrava-designed space was filled to the brim yesterday, with people standing around the mall’s performance space, where a concert was held to mark the occasion.
A skylight allows natural light to fill the massive white skeletal structure—apparently symbolizing "the image of a dove released from a child's hand"—and will open on every anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Internation brands such as Forever 21, H&M and John Varvatos have set up shop in the hub, serving Downtown Manhattan’s rapidly growing and diversifying resident base, along with tourists visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which can be accessed from the four-block-long hub.
Expected to eventually have 100 stores and restaurants, including a new Eataly location, only about 60 were open at the launch.
While real estate experts believe residents are eager for more retail and restaurants, many spaces in the hub remain unclaimed.
Luckily for Westfield, which has a 99-year lease on the project from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land, those four retailers combined to have only 6,400 SF, so their losses weren’t devastating.
Still, many spaces, including most of the restaurants, remain incomplete, with the above looking more like holes in the wall than luxury eateries.
The completed spaces are high-class and high-tech, with screens and innovative layouts. The Aldo Group, for example, is launching an app for its WTC location, using the hub as a testing ground before expanding it to other locations.
The largest tenant is Apple, which opened a two-floor, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed space that boasts a minimalist aesthetic, a transparent glass exterior and the tech giant’s typical wooden furnishings.
Ford Motor Co's slated to open the first FordHub, a showroom for innovations, this fall, following the experiential example of Lexus and Cadillac, which have set up similar showrooms in Brooklyn.
Expecting the mall to generate $1B in retail sales every year, Westfield's US division COO Bill Hecht says the hub will be the “center of commerce and culture for lower Manhattan” and a “symbol of hope, opportunity, progress and perseverance.”
The hub is also expected to be vibrant on nights and weekends, with shops with necessities like drugstore Duane Reade and restaurants open on weekends. The hub also features massive digital billboards, one 280 feet.
Safety was clearly a top priority for Wesfield, with NYPD and anti-terrorist forces littered throughout the crowd.
Resting beneath three office towers, the transportation hub—which opened in March—allows access for 13 subway lines, river ferries and the PATH train, and is already used by 300,000 commuters daily. Westfield believes 15 million travelers will use the hub by next year, especially as more direct subway entrances, such as to the 1 and the R, are completed.
A Beekman Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel and a performing arts center are also slated to open. The hub received $30B from public and private investment since 9/11, and according to Downtown Alliance head Jessica Lappin, the area has $6.5B in annual buying potential.