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Arcades In Water Street Corridor Could Soon Become Retail Space


The Water Street corridor is headed for a shake-up, after a proposal to allow retail in the covered walkways that flank many of the buildings passed last week.

Building owners in the area—Rudin Management, RXR Realty and Brookfield Properties, among others—say the concrete arcades that define the neighborhood no longer serve their intended purpose.

The arcades were originally part of a trade-off in which developers agreed to build them in exchange for being allowed to add about 380k SF of space to the area’s skyscrapers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

But now, they say, the roughly 110k SF of arcades merely serves to reinforce the neighborhood’s reputation as a sterile concrete jungle that shuts down after business hours.

“The arcades may be public space on paper, but they do not function as public usable spaces in reality,” Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, tells the WSJ. “This is not treasured space that has added any vibrancy of character to the street.”

Jessica and the ADNY have been pushing various incarnations of the proposal for years. 

Given that retail rents in the area are about $200/SF, it could amount to an annual windfall of roughly $250M for developers, Downtown Express reports. In exchange developers will have to invest extensively in new public spaces.

Some residents and several members of Community Board 1 see that as a raw deal for the city. They're also concerned it won't do enough to reinvigorate the neighborhood by itself.

Community Board 1 initially rejected the proposal, but last week approved it in a close vote. [WSJ]