Friday, March 27, 2015

In the Market Report: Downtown Rising

...Or Should I Say Risen?

Soft Spin Installation in Brookfield Place
Photos: Marilyn Kirschner
(click images for larger views)

When Conde Nast made their move from Times Square all the way down to One World Trade in 2014, it was a major moment and symbolic in terms of the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. And on Thursday, March 25th, there was yet another major milestone. Following a $250 million facelift, Brookfield Place, brookfieldplaceny.com, the former World Financial Center, has finally and formally opened. Considered to be “The Heart of the New Downtown”, it was billed from the outset, as a destination for luxury brands, and approximately 24 stores (including Michael Kors, J. Crew, Bonobos, Diane von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, Omega, Theory, Paul Smith, Vince, Judith & Charles, Cos Bar and Satya) officially put out their welcome mats.


Brookfield Property Partners celebrates the opening
of  Brookfield Place

While it wasn’t exactly a ribbon cutting, it was a Grand Opening, and Ric Clark, Brookfield Office Properties’ CEO, was on hand to make a few short, to the point, welcoming remarks. He noted how this has put the finishing touches on a major transformation that has turned an area that many considered to be a financial office environment, to a highly sought out destination. And while the financial sector and tourists have long been drawn down here, it has become not only a healthy vibrant neighborhood, but is seen as one of the most sought after places to live in New York City. As Downtown Magazine's CEO and publisher Grace Capobianco noted (she was one of the many who showed up for this occasion), it is now being referred to as the “Gold Coast” of Manhattan. Both Grace and myself are Upper East Side ‘expats’, (coincidentally, we were neighbors, living in the same building), and while we are among those who proudly call this neighborhood home (and love many things about living here), neither one of us would say the initial draw was the shopping LOL.




Quite frankly, if you told me a decade ago that I would be living just a few blocks away from Conde Nast’s headquarters, or from Saks Fifth Avenue, Burberry, Ferragamo, Hermes, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Vince, Theory, Diane Von Furstenberg, Zegna, Gucci, etc., I would ask what you were smoking! But, in fact, this is now a reality (though we will have to wait for the fall for the arrival of some of the aforementioned shops). By the way, yesterday morning’s event was also a perfect time to unveil Art Brookfield’s colorful sculptural and sound installation, “Soft Spin”, by Heather Nicole (it runs through April 24th), as well as Le District in Brookfield Place, which formally opens on Monday. Hudson Eats, a 35,000 square foot of eating space (which is located directly above Le District), opened months ago.


Le District at Brookfield Place

What could be better than great shopping? Great food, of course.  HPH Restaurant Group Peter Poulakakos’s long awaited 30,000 square foot mega French marketplace promises to rival food halls like those in Bon Marche in Paris and KaDeWe in Berlin (many call it the French equivalent of Eataly). It will include a wine bar, a patisserie, a fromagerie, a boulangerie, approximately 6 gourmet food stations (where you will find everything from waffles and crepes made to order, to sushi, steak frites, salads, rotisserie chicken, etc.), and three restaurants (Le Bar, brasserie Beaubourg, and L’Appart, which will have 17,000 square feet of outdoor space with views of the Hudson, and is set to open in May). There is perhaps no better time to be down here than in the spring and summer months, with sailboats, cruise ships, and yachts in full view. Spring forward, indeed.




- Marilyn Kirschner


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