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Empire Outlets Developer Joseph Ferrara On Retail Leasing, Making Shoppers Feel Safe

In this series, Make Yourself At Home, we are hearing from members of the commercial real estate industry about how they are managing this new reality and gaining insight into their day-to-day approaches. You can subscribe on iTunes and Spotify

Empire Outlets Developer Joseph Ferrara On Retail Leasing, Making Shoppers Feel Safe
Joseph Ferrara at Empire Outlets before it reopened as part of Phase 2.

On this week's episode, we hear from Joseph Ferrara, a principal at BFC Partners. His firm is the developer behind Empire Outlets, a new outlet mall on the Staten Island waterfront. The center spans more than 350K SF and has 4 acres of outdoor space.

Across the state, malls can only reopen in Phase 4. However, Empire Outlets was actually able to open back up within Phase 2 because it is all open-air. Still, there have been myriad changes there, like masks requirements, reduced capacity and stores that Ferrara said will never come back.

Even though it is back up and running, foot traffic is still very low. But he said the center has more than 30K SF of leases in the pipeline and is close to 80% occupied.

"It was a little scary at first, opening up as part of Phase 2 for us, because we were wondering, 'Is the shopper going to come back out?'" he said on the podcast. "That was a big question because it's a pretty scary thing, this coronavirus. On the Monday when we opened up, we had around 2,200 visitors come through."