Roosevelt Island Restaurant Report - New Sports Bar & Bagel Shop, Starbucks Status Unknown And RIOC's Vacant Main Street Shops Forever Empty
Starting this coming June, if everything goes according to schedule, Roosevelt Islanders will be able to enjoy what most other NYC neighborhoods take for granted, a friendly local sports bar and grill. The one year old Nonno's Focacceria owners are opening the approximately 3400 square foot Riverbank Bar & Grill in the space next to Duane Reade at Riverwalk's 425 Main Street.
The owners say their plan is to create a family friendly Applebees or Friday's type of restaurant with a 30 foot bar and 14 large flat panel television screens. Roosevelt Islanders will soon be able to watch their favorite sporting events or just have a relaxing night out without having to get on the Tram, the subway or trudge over the 36th Avenue Bridge to Queens. An added bonus is that there will also be an adjacent bagel and deli store that will open in the mornings as well. Now, if the Starbucks remains open, Roosevelt Island may be starting to shape up. Please slap me so I know that I am not dreaming.
Of course, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) controlled vacant Main Street retail stores remain empty as they have for several years (3+?). RIOC's solution is to undertake yet another study and survey . As explained in this except of a letter to the 1/17/09 Main Street WIRE by RIOC Director and Real Estate Committee Chair Charlee Miller:
... The committee had the opportunity to interview two consultants with extensive experience in community development, urban planning and design, Main Street revitalization, preservation, and much more. The committee is in the process of selecting the consultant.The study is a waste of time and resources. RIOC, or any other governmental entity, should not be in the retail real estate business. RIOC should issue a Request For Proposal for private developers to take over over RIOC's retail properties as a Master Leaseholder as first proposed by RIRA representative and now RIOC Director Jon Kalkin in this 6/16/07 Main Street WIRE article:
Once the consultant is on board, the next steps will be rolled out in phases. Residents, workers, visitors, vendors, and various other groups will be asked to participate in public workshops and focus groups. These groups will contribute to the fact-finding mission about the attitudes, needs, and interests of the community. Some of the surveys will include the following:
* Resident shopping/dining patterns and preferences
* Worker shopping/dining patterns and preferences
* Tourist/visitor spending patterns and preferences
Our solution is simple: We lease the commercial space to a master leaseholder who then sublets the individual storefronts.I know of several developers who have expressed interest in the Master Leaseholder concept for the Main Street stores. Why not issue an RFP for a Master Retail leaseholder now instead of waiting months if not years for yet another study or if the governmental bureaucratic process requires a new study, do it simultaneously with the RFP.
UPDATE - 5/19 - Construction is still going on at Roosevelt Island's new bar/restaurant/breakfast shop. The owners tell me they hope to be open in Mid June and they have changed their name to the much more appropriate Riverwalk Bar & Grill.