Under Oculus, Retail Takes a Bow: The shopping mall inside the World Trade Center’s transit hub officially opens TuesdayAugust 15, 2016
By Keiko Morris, WSJ
Retailers inside the World Trade Center’s transit hub are finally going to give gawking tourists and rushing commuters another reason to make the soaring structure a destination.
The $1.4 billion shopping complex officially opens at noon Tuesday, adding an element to the emerging retail landscape in lower Manhattan and offering another milestone of recovery from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“It’s significant to us as a company, but it’s also significant to New York and America,” said Frank Lowy, chairman of Westfield Corp., the developer of the project known as Westfield World Trade Center. He added, “It’s a major victory of good over evil.”
Westfield has high hopes. The company expects the shops to generate more than $1 billion in sales a year, said Peter Lowy, Westfield’s co-chief executive.
Westfield aims to capture consumers’ attention with digital technology, including product-delivery apps and 19 digital screens. One screen stretches about 280 feet along the corridor between the central hall, topped by the structure known as the Oculus, and One World Trade Center.
On Monday, stores were in varying degrees of completion. In some shops, workers were putting the finishing touches on displays, huddling for training and bringing in clothing racks. In others, contractors were still at work.
Store brands include Eataly, Apple, Kate Spade, John Varvatos, Sephora, Under Armour and Stuart Weitzman
Of about 100 stores expected to fill the space, 60 are scheduled to open Tuesday.
Westfield doesn’t yet have access to retail space in the skyscraper known as 3 World Trade Center or the area still under construction near the PATH station, said Peter Lowy.
Shops planned for those spaces likely will open between 2017 and 2018, he said.
Westfield World Trade Center is expected to do well, but faces challenges such as attracting more regional, suburban visitors who might decide to shop closer to home or online, said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a consulting firm.
Traffic congestion in Manhattan, for example, could dissuade driving suburban shoppers, Mr. Flickinger said.
Westfield’s leaders, for their part, expect ample foot traffic. They estimated more than 300,000 commuters would pass through the hub each day.
In addition, millions of tourists are expected next year to visit the National September 11 Memorial Museum, the memorial plaza and the observatory at One World Trade Center.
The company also estimated about 50,000 office workers will fill the World Trade Center towers when all are completed.