updated 07:00 pm EDT, Fri September 13, 2013
Shops not likely to open before 2015, leasing \'war\' underway now
The New York Post is reporting that Australian-owned shopping mall powerhouse Westfield Group has landed a long-term controlling interest in retail space at the newly-rebuilt World Trade Center, and is courting dozens of retailers -- including Apple -- to occupy shops in the Transportation Hub Oculus are under towers two and three. The firm controls about 360,000 square feet of retail space, and is said to be close to a deal with the iPhone maker, even though any store there wouldn't open until sometime in 2015.
The report that mentions the possibility of a WTC Apple Store also reported that rents would likely be in the $500-to-$600 per square foot range, though Apple is known for sometimes negotiating lower rates in exchange for longer-term commitments. Westfield is said to have already signed Victoria's Secret, and is close to deals with Theory, Swatch, Michael Kors, J. Lindberg, Tory Burch and Abercrombie & Fitch as well as other international brand names. Westfield is paying the New York Port Authority some $612 million for its stake in the WTC retail space, and is leveraging its ability to secure prime positions in its other 100 malls to pressure clients to quickly fill the available WTC places.
The area around the WTC is being built up as an affluent shopping district, including the World Financial Center (whose retail is controlled by Westfield rival Brookfield) and new high-end apartment complexes designed by Frank Gehry, new hotels and a conversion into apartments of the buildings at 70 Pine Street. The World Financial Center shops are expected to open ahead of the WTC retail by nearly a year, and Brookfield has already signed high-end boutiques like Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo and London fashion house Burberry -- the latter of which is relying exclusively on the iPhone 5s for its in-house video webcast, photography and other documentation of its next big fashion show in Hyde Park.