The Real Deal New York

Michael Brais’ recipe for success at Empire Outlets makes for “Ingenious”-worthy deal

Douglas Elliman broker’s lease deal with Gansevoort Market in the running for REBNY award
By Rich Bockmann | March 15, 2016 03:40PM

Michael Brais with Gansevoort Market in the Meatpacking District and a rendering of the Empire Outlets on Staten Island

Michael Brais with Gansevoort Market in the Meatpacking District and a rendering of the Empire Outlets on Staten Island

UPDATED, April 7, 6:10 p.m.: It would take more than a ferry ride to bring the Gansevoort Market concept to the Empire Outlets on Staten Island.

But by reworking elements of the common-area charges in the lease that seemed as foreign to the Gansevoort folks as the North Shore, Douglas Elliman Commercial broker Michael Brais secured a buzz-worthy anchor tenant for the ambitious development.

The transaction also put Brais in the running for a Real Estate Board of New York “Most Ingenious Deal of the Year Award,” the winners of which will be announced April 12 at Club 101 on Park Avenue.

The submission, entitled “Gansevoort Market to Empire Outlets,” is one of nine leasing deals under consideration for one of the coveted awards. Since earlier this month when the nominees were announced, The Real Deal has been reviewing submissions to give a behind-the-scenes peek at how some of the city’s most complex deals get done.

(They include David Ash’s retail condo for Zara, Arthur Mirante’s NBPA office lease, Rob Martin’s space swap for Assured Guaranty and Paul Wolf’s 99-year lease on the St. Luke campus in Greenwich Village.)

The tale of the deal, as Brais narrated in a phone interview, started when developer BFC Partners brought the broker on board last summer to find a tenant to anchor the 40,000-square-foot food-and-beverage component at the 340,000-square-foot retail complex next to the St. George Ferry Terminal.

From the get-go, BFC wanted to include a food hall similar to Anthony Bourdain’s “night market” at Pier 57 or Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s plan at the South Street Seaport.

It was important that this one had that authentic New York taste, according to Brais.

“We wanted to bridge the perceived gap between Staten Island and New York City,” Brais said.

At the time, the creative team  behind Gansevoort Market, Manny Del Castillo and Jamie Hinojos, was looking to expand outside of the Meatpacking District under the new name “MRKTPL,” and Brais thought it would be a natural fit.

One thing the market’s team wasn’t necessarily ready for, though, was the various common area charges that go along with a multiple-tenant property like an outlet mall.

“New York is always changing, but this is really a new category,” the broker explained. Maintenance charges for shared spaces, the PILOT payments passed onto tenants in lieu of taxes, and shared costs of continuous marketing campaigns each came with their own set of terms and escalations.

To make the team more comfortable, Brais negotiated with BFC to consolidate the costs with one all-in escalation “in order to shape this as a boutique-friendly lease.”

The result? In late December, MRKTPL inked a 15-year lease with a 5-year renewal option for 12,000 square feet indoors and a 3,000-square-foot terrace with city views.

The anchor has since been followed by Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue, and Brais said he’s got leases out for a jazz bar and an “iconic New York pizza brand.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Gansevoort Market signed a lease at the Empire Outlets. The creative team behind the market, not the Gansevoort’s principals, signed the lease under a different brand.