Developers hope to add 380K sf of retail along Water Street

BID is looking for zoning change for the street's arcades

From left: Bill Rudin (Credit: STUDIO SCRIVO) and 110 Wall Street in the Financial District
From left: Bill Rudin (Credit: STUDIO SCRIVO) and 110 Wall Street in the Financial District

A proposed zoning change that would allow property owners — including Rudin Management, RXR Realty and Brookfield Property Partners — to add about 380,000 square feet of space along a stretch of Water Street has sparked debate.

The Alliance for Downtown New York, Department of City Planning and the city’s Economic Development Corporation sponsored a zoning amendment that would apply to 110,000 square feet of arcades along Water Street between Fulton and Whitehall streets. The land-use application would make way for new retail space built into existing arcade space on the ground floors of several buildings.

The buildings’ property owners say the change would bring in much-needed retail to the area, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“By changing the zoning, you allow owners to spend significant capital,” Bill Rudin of Rudin Management, which owns 110 Wall Street, told the Journal. “We are not talking about small sums to recapture and redesign these spaces.”

The owners told the Journal their investment into the retail space would be significant.

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“It’s very expensive to create retail spaces and activate public space,” David Cheikin, executive vice president of the New York region for Brookfield Property Partners, told the Journal. “And the windfall that people assume it is may or may not be there.”

However, others say the change would mostly be a boon for the property owners, not the public.

“It’s not enough for someone to say to us, ‘Well, the public is receiving in exchange for developers getting retail space a livelier street and the ability to buy Starbucks coffee,’” Gina Pollara, president of the Municipal Art Society of New York, told the Journal. “That’s not an equitable exchange.”

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Wednesday. [WSJ]Dusica Sue Malesevic