Travis Noyes, Empire Outlets’ Senior Vice President of Marketing, revealed to the Advance that the six building, 1.1 million square foot shopping center located on the St. George waterfront will open in phases beginning with a ribbon cutting April 17. The following day will have a grand opening with a portion of retail shops ready for business.
The remainder of stores are slated to open between April and August. Anchor retailer Nordstrom has been confirmed to open on July 4. Other major brands include H&M and Nike Factory Outlet.
The shopping center has faced significant delays in the past, however, with its opening date pushed back four times since it was initially scheduled to open in 2016. Construction began in April 2015.
There have been many concerns swirling around the ultimate failure of The New York Wheel, which was supposed to drive foot traffic to Empire Outlets. After contractor Mammoet-Starneth walked off the job in May 2017, a year and a half court battle raged between the parties over who would be granted ownership of The Wheel's parts. Ultimately New York Wheel executives abandoned the project in October 2018 after failing to secure adequate funding for the venture, which had an estimated cost of $1 Billion. (Pictured right: Former construction site of The New York Wheel)
Some locals suspected that once The Wheel abandoned its construction plans that retailers would be pulling out of their leases since the 630-foot tall observation wheel was a major selling point. Project spokesman Sam Spokony claims that delays are not related to issues surrounding The New York Wheel’s failure.
In an earlier report, The Staten Island Advance estimated Empire Outlets’ total cost to be $304 Million. Of the total budget, $47 million is accounted for in state subsidies.
Executives have declined to give a timeline for individual retail openings, but have stated that a large amount of these businesses will open in April with the majority open by summer.
In addition to retail spaces, Empire Outlets will soon unveil a 12,723 artisanal food hall called MRKTPL, as well as 3,000 square feet of outdoor space. Until then, a fleet of food trucks will be parked onsite to provide meal options for shoppers.
Malls and retail shopping across America have been struggling to stay relevant in the past decade. Empire Outlets will attempt to set itself apart with its unprecedented discount retailers from widely known brands including True Religion, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Converse, Guess Factory Store, and Levi’s. Though numerous outlet shops are located in New Jersey, this mall will be the first of its kind in the five boroughs.