The Real Deal New York

City gives delayed Staten Island museum lease another chance

Institution is steps from BFC’s Empire Outlets mall in transforming area
By Eileen AJ Connelly | December 13, 2013 02:03PM

The city Economic Development Corporation extended a deadline for the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island to raise $350,000 to secure a lease for a historic building steps away from the planned giant Ferris wheel, known as the New York Wheel, and BFC Partners’ Empire Outlets mall.

The museum project was launched in 1997, but it has cycled through various directors without being able to raise enough money to open. Executive Director Linda Dianto told The Real Deal that EDC extended the deadline to Dec. 30 from Tuesday, because she is just $43,000 short of the goal. She said the museum has pledges for more donations, but some won’t arrive until after the new year. Supermarket mogul and real estate developer John Catsimatidis, whose failed mayoral bid got strong Staten Island support, donated $100,000 to the cause in early December.

The 2,350-square-foot brick building is on the grounds of what was once the national center of operations for the Coast Guard’s U.S. lighthouse services, and is one of a half-dozen landmarked 19th and early 20th structures on the 10-acre city-owned site.

The neighborhood around the ferry terminal is on the cusp of transformation, with nearly $1 billion in private investment pouring in. Developer BFC, led by Don Capoccia, has gotten the go-ahead to build a $580 million project that includes 80 stores and a 200-room hotel,  along with a million square feet of mixed-used space on the waterfront and the New York Wheel, which aims to be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.

Adjacent to the museum site and incorporating four of the historic buildings along with 6,000 square feet of underground vaults, Triangle Equities is planning a $230 million project called Lighthouse Point, which will include 53,000 square feet of retail space as well as a 164-room hotel and 96 rental housing units. And Ironstate Development broke ground last summer on a major residential complex on the Stapleton waterfront about a mile away, the site of a former Navy base. The $140 million first phase includes two buildings with 27,000 square feet of retail space and 571 rental units.

The various developers are supporting the museum, Dianto said. If it meets its fundraising goal, the museum would finally open in the summer 2014.