BFC Partners last week celebrated the groundbreaking of Empire Outlets, a  project that will create over 1,800 jobs and bring $285 million in private investment on the North Shore of Staten Island.

A 340,000 s/f  retail complex, Empire Outlets will offer increased amenities and shopping opportunities for residents and visitors at 100 designer outlet stores.

BFC Partners Principals Donald Capoccia and Joseph Ferrara were joined by New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, Councilmember Debi Rose, NYC & Company Executive Vice President Kelly Curtin, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group Managing Director Margaret Anadu, and New York Wheel LLC Chief Executive Officer Rich Marin and Staten Island Yankees Owner Nick Tiller at the groundbreaking ceremony at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George.

“Empire Outlets is a well-timed catalyst that will trigger the transformation of the North Shore and position Staten Island for sustained growth into the foreseeable future,” said  Capoccia, principal at BFC Partners.

“This project will be a dynamic economic engine for New York City, creating more than 1,800 construction and permanent jobs that will benefit its residents, businesses, cultural and community organizations for generations to come. We would like to acknowledge Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Empire State Development Corp., New York City Economic Development Corporation, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, Councilwoman Deborah Rose, HireNYC, Community Board 1, and James Prendamano and John Pitera of Casandra Properties for their dedication, support and allocation of resources.”

NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball said, “By utilizing HireNYC, the 100 stores that will call Empire Outlets home, are not just providing shopping opportunities, but also job opportunities to the local community. This groundbreaking represents one step in the redevelopment of the North Shore, and we look forward to continued work to help make Staten Island an even greater asset for all New Yorkers.”

Goldman Sachs, through its Urban Investment Group, provided $130 million of capital for Empire Outlets, which is part of the firm’s broader commitment to impact investing in New York City. To date, Goldman Sachs has committed $2 billion to nearly 100 projects across all five boroughs — in areas like affordable housing and new community and healthcare spaces.

“This is a great day for Empire Outlets, as they officially break ground on a complex that will generate jobs and help drive the economy of the North Shore of Staten Island, and indeed all of New York City,” said Rich Marin, CEO of the New York Wheel.

Empire Outlets will open its doors in 2016

“We expect to hold our own groundbreaking ceremony very soon, once all of the details for our closing are in place. We congratulate Empire Outlets and Don and Joe on their terrific achievement and look forward to continuing the celebration of the redevelopment of the St. George waterfront with our own groundbreaking soon.”

Empire Outlets, developed by BFC Partners, will be a 340,000 s/f  retail complex, comprised of approximately 100 designer outlet retailers, along with a gourmet dining destination with a variety of restaurants and cafes.

Among the national brands joining Empire Outlets include Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store, White House Black Market, Guess Factory Store, U.S. Polo Assn., Columbia Sportswear Company, Innovation Luggage, Wilsons Leather, G.H. Bass & Co., Lids, Obey Your Body, Starbucks, Walgreens, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Haagen Dazs, Krispy Kreme, Nathan’s Famous and Applebee’s.  Plans also include a 190-room hotel that will provide extraordinary views of the Manhattan skyline.

BFC Partners will also build a 1,250-space structured parking garage below the retail and hotel components to accommodate commuters and visitors. Construction is expected to be completed in 2016.

Designed by SHoP Architects, Empire Outlets will feature expansive open corridors and pedestrian walkways to the water, contemporary materials reflective of the industrial waterfront, and a sweeping sustainable green roof visible from the Harbor.

BFC Partners has entered into a 99-year lease. They, along with the neighboring New York Wheel, will pay a total of $2.5 million per year in rent to the City, with additional participation rents once certain ridership and gross revenue milestones are reached.

The developers will also contribute $300,000 per year in contributions to area-wide maintenance, such as upkeep to the waterfront esplanade.  Additionally, BFC Partners has set goals to hire locally through NYCEDC’s HireNYC program for 50 percent of permanent jobs created.  HireNYC is a free program that connects the City’s workforce development services to economic development projects to provide job access to local, low-income New York City residents.  The developer also intends to hire 25 percent minority and women-owned business enterprises.

Located adjacent to the Empire Outlets will be the New York Wheel, the largest observation wheel in the Western Hemisphere. It will stand 630 feet tall and is expected to welcome as many as 30,000 riders per day during peak season and an estimated 4.5 million visitors per year.

The development should be operational by next year.

Partnering with Lighthouse Point, the Staten Island Yankees, Snug Harbor and the Historic St. George Theater, the developers of the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets are creating new programming for “Destination St. George,” a tourism campaign to help launch the North Shore of Staten Island as a worldwide visitor magnet for decades to come.

Lighthouse Point will include more than 100 residential units, a hotel, a diverse mix of retail shops and dining options, considerable public open space, and parking.  The New Stapleton Waterfront will provide additional housing, open space, infrastructure and resiliency improvements to Staten Island’s North Shore.