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Who’s To Blame For 3 World Trade Center’s Still-Vacant Retail?

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Who’s To Blame For 3 World Trade Center’s Still-Vacant Retail?
3 World Trade Center opened in June

The retail space at 3 World Trade Center is still sitting empty, and its owner is pointing the finger at the Port Authority.

The building officially opened last year, but the 75K SF retail section — controlled by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, known as URW — has yet to find a tenant, The New York Post reports. URW told the newspaper that its space has not been “handed over yet” by the Port Authority and that it is “waiting for the base building of Tower Three.”

The office portion of the building is controlled by developer Silverstein Properties, and it is more than half leased, with law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP the latest to sign up there, taking 103K SF last week. Deals for two eateries to take space in the building expired, because of how long the space took to become available, URW told the Post. 

URW controls the Oculus mall in the new PATH terminal, as well as the retail parts of Three and Four World Trade Center and interconnecting concourses, which combine to make up the Westfield World Trade Center retail complex. However, the pathway that runs between the PATH terminal and Brookfield Place is still half vacant, per the Post, which URW said is due to "work being done [behind the storefronts] for the Performing Arts Center.”

The World Trade Center's retail complex opened in 2016, but has faced a litany of challenges. The skylight in the Oculus building has leaked, reportedly caused by the seal ripping after opening and closing for the Sept. 11 anniversary last year. In 2017, a woman fell off the escalator and died. Duane Read is suing URW, saying it did not provide “tenant-ready” space.

Overall, there has been vast development in the Financial District area, and many real estate players say retail is now the final piece that will bring the entire neighborhood together. Westfield World Trade Center's struggles shows that is easier said than done.