Why a prime stretch of Westfield’s WTC mall will be empty for another year

Port Authority won’t give space back until 2018 as mall struggles to find its footing

Aug.August 07, 2017 09:00 AM

Westfield Corp. Chairman Frank Lowy and empty storefronts at the World Trade Center mall

A prime stretch of retail at the $1.5 billion mall at the World Trade Center isn’t expected to be handed over to Westfield Corp. for another year, one of several challenges facing the shopping complex as it approaches its one-year anniversary.

A stretch of about nine storefronts on two levels of the western section of the shopping center – considered prime space thanks to its location near the PATH entrance – isn’t expected to be handed over to Westfield until 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is rebuilding space that had been previously used as a temporary entrance to the PATH station. It’s just one of problems facing the center.

Aside from industry-wide struggles affecting retailers, the center has been hit with water leaks, entrances to subways are still under construction and the space at 3 World Trade Center, where the majority of the food and dining spaces will be located, is still under construction.

The number of open shops has risen from 60 when the project opened to 82, and Westfield is working to refine its strategies it put in place in order to capitalize on the anticipated influx of tourists and office workers.

“I think the objective and main key is working on the conversion rates so they [retailers] can convert that traffic into sales,” William Hecht, CEO of Westfield’s U.S. arm, told the newspaper. “We’re very pleased with it and also pleased with the additional benefits and attractions we are adding to it.”

In June, The Real Deal took a look at the empty spaces at the mall, finding that roughly 20 percent of the mall was empty.

Vacant storefronts include one by the PATH entrance that was originally slated to be taken by Michael Kors, which announced it will be closing 100 to 125 of its full-price stores over the next two years. Westfield said it is negotiating to take back the space, the WSJ reported. [WSJ] – Rich Bockmann

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