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.

  • Joelle Morrison

    So sad that after winning the National Lighthouse Museum competition, the S.I. museum is reduced to one little piece. The Michigan folk who competed for the title and lost should be pissed. In retrospect, they should have won.

  • Ralph Eshelman

    Yes, Michigan made an excellent proposal but in the end Staten Island has a more significant historic site and larger visitor projections. NYC put up approximately 5 million toward the project – Michigan put up no hard funding. The 5 million went into stabilization of the historic buildings at the lighthouse depot so it was not wasted money. There was a suggestion to have regional national lighthouses – one for the east coast, one for the west coast and one for the Great Lakes. The Michigan group declined that idea – too bad in my opinion.

    With the development coming to the ferry terminal area (including the world’s largest Ferris wheel), this lighthouse should be well positioned to take advantage of this economic wave – 0/11 and Hurricane Sandy were huge setbacks the region.