by James Prendamano

As Managing Director for Casandra Properties, I have spent the last twenty years successfully matching national brands with available retail space on Staten Island. The work is rewarding because it allows me to brag about my hometown to retail leasing agents who have little or no understanding of Staten Island’s spending power. I also gain the satisfaction of knowing that the work I do provides our borough with amenities that enhance both our quality of life and our property value.

When I look back on the thousands of hours I have spent negotiating retail leases, the common thread and most difficult hurdle to overcome has been the negative opinion retail leasing agents had about Staten Island. Unfortunately, most of their opinions were formed from news stories generated by Staten Islanders complaining that, when it came to government services, our borough was overshadowed by the needs of the rest of New York City – a complaint that was valid – until now.

Several years ago city officials realized that Staten Island possessed tremendous spending power and that those demands were not being met. Coupled with the natural foot traffic generated by commuters and tourists at the St. George Ferry Terminal, our spending power increased greatly. Thanks to our elected officials and community advocates, the New York City Economic Development Corporation issued an RFEI for the land adjacent to the St. George Ferry Terminal. BFC Partners replied with a winning proposal to construct Empire Outlets – New York City’s only retail outlet center – at the site, overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

Casandra Properties is proud to be the retail leasing agent for Empire Outlets. The project broke ground last year and is more than 50% leased with tenants that include: Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Starbucks,Gap Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store, White House Black Market, Columbia Sportswear Company, Guess Factory Store, Wilsons Leather, Francesca’s, G.H. Bass & Co., Lids, Obey Your Body, Innovation Luggage, Walgreens, Haagen Dazs, Krispy Kreme, Nathan’s Famous and Yong Kang Street Restaurant. The success of our retail leasing program is a testament to the support the project has received from government officials and the community.

Support for the project grows greater every day. Last week it was announced that Empire Outlets will be joining NYC & Company along with New York Wheel at the 2016 Japan and Korea Sales Mission in Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul and Busan from February 22 – 26 to showcase the changing face of NYC Tourism and the visitor experience of New York City’s newest entertainment district of Staten Island’s waterfront.

Partners on the NYC & Company sales mission are: MoMA, Empire State Building Observatory, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, The Metropolitan Museum, Marriott International and Intercontinental Hotels.

This announcement is good news for our borough because it shines a white hot spotlight on our island and let’s national retailers know that the time to invest in Staten Island is now.