New York State is a world of extremes. Home to the biggest city in the country, it encompasses smaller cities along with some of the nation’s most rural areas. Then again, if you want rural, try Vermont, where no more than a few thousand people live within a 10-mile radius. And then there’s Rhode Island: tiny state with mighty markets.
The Big Apple and the Empire State: Welcome to New York City, where Forest City Ratner Cos. and the Syosset, N.Y.-based Blumenfeld Development Group are working on a project that most developers would consider impossible: assembling six Upper East Side acres right on the East River for the 500,000-sq.-ft. East River Plaza that will house the first-ever Target in Manhattan.
An affiliate of Forest City Enterprises in Cleveland, Forest City Ratner has completed projects in each of the five boroughs, with an eye toward keeping retail money in the city, said Richard Pesin, executive VP and director of the retail development group with Forest City Ratner.
Developing in the five boroughs isn’t for everyone, but it is what Forest City Ratner does. In 1992, Bruce Ratner, the company’s chairman, commissioned a study that showed retail dollars flowing out of the city into the suburbs. “The company has spent more than a decade trying to keep those dollars in the city, which remains understored and underserved,” said Pesin.
Retail development in, as well as around, the city is difficult not just because land is tough to come by. It is difficult even to imagine projects of the scale required to make them profitable.
Imagine a lifestyle center with 1.2 million sq. ft. of retail space, 1,000 residential units, 150,000 sq. ft. of office space and room left over for a hotel.
Last summer, Forest City Ratner closed on a $630 million construction loan, the largest in company history, to build that project. It’s called Ridge Hill, and it’s in Yonkers in Westchester County. Ridge Hill is the company’s first retail project outside of New York City, and it just broke ground on Nov. 28.
Adam Ifshin agrees with Ratner that New York City is underserved. President and CEO of DLC Management Corp. in Tarrytown, N.Y., Ifshin also contends that the same is true of New York City’s suburbs. “In almost any close-in trade area, there is unmet demand from tier-1 national retailers,” he said. “They want more space than they can find, and the