Thursday, August 11, 2011

Roosevelt Island's Main Street Retail Corridor Now In The Hands Of Private Sector Developer Hudson Related - Take The Online Retail Survey And Tell Hudson Related What You Would Like On Main Street

Main Street Image Of Roosevelt Island Is The Village From Glark

As reported last Tuesday, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC, a NY State Public Benefit Corporation) is now out of the business of landlord to the commercial retail stores on Roosevelt Island's Main Street:
Just received word that the Roosevelt Island Main Street Master Leaseholder Agreement between the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) and Southtown developer Hudson/Related was signed earlier today. According to Hudson Principal David Kramer:
We finally signed the Master Retail Sublease today.
Main Street Image From Jones Lang LaSalle

Can we all shout out one big Hallelujah right now?

I asked the Hudson Related team:
Do you have any comment to make for Roosevelt Islander Blog regarding the signing of the Roosevelt Island Main Street Master Leasehold Agreement?

In particular can you describe what next steps Hudson Related will be taking regarding community input for the future of Main Street Stores, the type of new tenants Hudson Related will be seeking out, what will happen to existing tenants and any other information you care to share with the Roosevelt Island community.
Hudson Principal David Kramer replied:
We're going to start immediately surveying the entire island with an online retail survey.

We've assembled a design team with Rogers Marvel Architects in the lead to propose upgrades for the streetscape, storefronts, signage and street furniture.

We've hired Winick to solicit interest and respond to inquiries.

We look forward to conducting public meetings to get feedback from the community after Labor Day.

We hope to start signing new tenants for the vacant spaces; a realistic time frame is for new tenants to be in place by early next year.

Here's the online survey. Please get the word out
Mr. Kramer added:
We're going to enforce the current leases and work with the retailers to improve the retail corridor for everyone.
Hey, Gristedes, do you hear that about enforcing current leases? Better start making improvements in your Roosevelt Island store. The other current tenants too.

Below is a picture of Mr. Kramer pointing towards the future of Roosevelt Island with his Hudson Related team as they began a tour of Roosevelt Island several weeks ago. It's now up to Hudson Related to demonstrate that they can make the long sought improvements to the Main Street retail corridor that residents have been waiting for so long.

Take the online Main Street Retail Survey and tell Hudson/Related what you would like to see happen on the new Roosevelt Island Main Street. (If possible, please send your comments to the Roosevelt Islander Blog as well so your ideas can also be shared with the rest of the community).

I asked former RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin to comment. Mr. Kalkin proposed the Master Leaseholder idea way back in 2007 and diligently worked to make it happen despite persistent opposition from former RIOC President Steve Shane.

From Mr. Kalkin:
Main Street retail has been a problem for decades, and it was one of the first things I tried to work on as a resident and then as a board member. The Retail Master Lease is proof that an idea can come from a resident and be approved by the Residents Association, move to the board, and become a solution that is mutually beneficial for the government and private business. This secures the present revenue stream for RIOC and shares profits above that, benefits the community with a competitive and vibrant retail environment, and takes government (and the long and onerous RFP process that goes with it) out of the business of retail management for the Island.

There will also be significant investment in the spaces to make them look great for tenants and for the community. However, to be especially successful, I recommend that you go to your favorite off-Island stores and restaurants, and tell them that Roosevelt Island is finally ready to rent stores. The more of you who reach out to entrepreneurs and businesses that you love and bring them to the Island, the better the choices we will have in the future.

This plan will not only bring jobs and money into our economy, but Hudson-Related has significant retail experience, and the success of Main Street Retail helps promote the completion of the final buildings of Southtown. That will bring significant revenue for RIOC, which can help secure our promise of long-term affordability for the buildings in Northtown and help pay for our infrastructure and operational needs going forward. It also makes us attractive for a world class university.

Many on the RIOC staff and board worked tirelessly to see this completed and they should be commended for their hard work. Make no mistake, this is our turning point, and a great example how community ideas and democracy can make a difference. Roosevelt Island is place of beauty, strength and determination and I look forward to seeing it live up to its potential.
RIOC issued this press release today:
This week the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and Hudson Related Retail LLC (HRR) executed a 30-year net sub-lease for over 35 storefronts located throughout Roosevelt Island.

"We at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation are very much looking forward to working with Hudson Related to revitalize Main Street on Roosevelt Island, " said RIOC President and CEO Leslie Torres. The agreement is retroactive to August 1, 2011.

The net lease includes both guaranteed rent and a 50/50 net profit split between HRR and RIOC, after HRR's invested capital plus interest is returned. HRR has also agreed to make substantial capital investments within the first five years of the lease to improve the retail corridor on Roosevelt Island’s Main Street. David Kramer of Hudson Related Retail LLC said, "Hudson/Related is excited to oversee the operations and development of the Roosevelt Island Main Street retail corridor. We envision a new experience for customers and pedestrians alike and look forward to working with Rogers Marvel Architects to create a vibrant retail environment."

HRR was selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process based on their economic proposal, their commitment to address the needs of all of the retail space, and the strength of their program to turn around and improve the island retail sector for all residents, workers and visitors on Roosevelt Island.

About The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of the State of New York (RIOC) is a public benefit corporation and a political subdivision of the State of New York.  Since 1984, RIOC has been responsible for realization of the 1968 Roosevelt Island General Development Plan (GDP).  RIOC’s authority to implement the GDP stems from a 99 year lease from New York City to New York State for the development and operation of the 147 acres comprising the former Welfare Island, located in New York City’s East River.  For more information, please visit

About Hudson Related Retail LLC.
Hudson/Related Retail LLC is a joint venture between two New York City based development companies, The Hudson Companies, Inc. and The Related Companies LP. These two companies have been partners on Roosevelt Island since 1997 when they were designated to develop 2,000 apartments on Roosevelt Island. Together, the joint venture has completed Fireman's Field, a combined soccer and baseball field on the island, followed by 6 residential buildings, a town square called Riverwalk Commons, and 8 retail stores. The housing has included staff housing for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College and NYU. Market rate housing has included condominiums at Riverwalk Place and Riverwalk Court as well as rental housing at the newly completed Riverwalk Crossing.

After receiving the Press Release, I inquired of RIOC President Leslie Torres and Mr. Kramer:
The press release states that Hudson Related has agreed to make substantial capital investments to improve Main Street over the next 5 years.

How much money has Hudson/Related agreed to invest per the Master Leaseholder Agreement?

Also what is the interest rate referred on capital investment that must be returned prior to the 50-50 net profit split mentioned in the press release.
 What is known about the deal so far is:
... a 30-year lease on Main Street's approximately 100,000 square feet, Hudson-Related would guarantee RIOC the existing revenue it collects from the Main Street stores (about $900,000) and split any additional income and Hudson Related would invest capital in the physical appearance of Main Street...
More on the Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Master Leaseholder process from these previous posts.

UPDATE 6:10 PM - In response to my question regarding the amount that Hudson Related has agreed to invest in capital improvements to Main Street and the interest rate agreed to prior to the 50-50 split, Mr. Kramer replies:
UPDATE 8/30 - According to RIOC President Leslie Torres:
... Hudson/Related has already begun speaking with residents and community leaders about possible ideas for renovation. They issued a survey to island residents that should conclude in early September and has already garnered an enthusiastic response from over 1,000 residents. While opinions have varied, most people would like to see the addition of retail spaces including a new bakery, an Asian restaurant, a health food store, and a wine/liquor store. Other suggested additions include a new bank branch, book store and yoga/pilates studio. Hudson/ Related is currently talking with potential vendors, many of whom have expressed interest in opening new retail stores. They will continue to collect feedback to make sure that the wants and needs of the community are well represented.

In the meantime, developers are working with architects to discuss improvements to Main Street with the concept of creating a bright, vibrant new look. Some of the ideas in discussion include new lighting and signage for the streets along with new street furniture, bike racks and benches for convenience. This should make the area more appealing to look at and easier to navigate. In addition, developers are working with contractors to cleanout old stores in anticipation of the renovations.

The revitalization of Main Street will be an on-going process but residents can expect to see improvements throughout 2012 with initial construction beginning in the spring....


Jason Eng said...

I'm happy to read all this. Thanks for the consolidation of information. I took the survey and beyond being truthful about the existing businesses, I suggested a pet supply store, hair cutting place, and a bowling alley (or something else that is entertainment beyond drinking).

SML said...

I took the survey and suggested a wine/liquor store.  I also pointed out that if the stores did not meet my standards, I wouldn't be shopping in them.   I also pointed out that we are only one subway stop from midtown Manhattan and that people do, in fact, travel to other neighborhoods to shop.  I, for example, shop in Chelsea and Greenwich Village often.   If the stores were interested enough, off-islanders might very well take the subway one stop to come here.   In addition, I strongly urged them to spend a day or two observing people leaving the subway and seeing which shopping bags they were carrying, in order to dispel the notion that everyone here is unwilling or unable to shop. 

an islander said...

I was happy to take a survey that I am sure will not end up in a pile of paper in the bowels of the RIOC offices. 

Just the thought of telling the current tenants to clean up their acts brings joy to my heart.  It is about time there were  no excuses for bad business practices.  Our current Main Street merchants should take a walk and see all the tenants in Riverwalk Commons have clean, well taken care of businesses. 

This may scaret them into
some housework.  I cannot wait to see the dry cleaning plant
hidden or removed from Main St,  This store was not rented to become a wholesale laundry and dry cleaner. The proprietor is abusing his lease.

Our video store which is pathetic may finally see some housekeeping.

No more grousing.  The marshall is riding into town.

Good Kitty said...

Maybe Mr. Kramer can hire Mr. Kalkin now that the latter has been released from the RIOC Board.  Mr. Kalkin seems to remain awfully interested in RI's fate - even though he has no "official capacity" any longer.  Mr. Kalkin's thinking seems to "mesh" closely with that of Mr. Kramer.  

Resident said...

Totally agree.  I no longer even try to get any shopping done on the island and I have been a resident for 5 years. I suggested a pet shop as well and really urge a health food store that actually cares about expiration dates!  Come on Gristedes.  It would also be great if at least one of the 2 restaurants on Main Street didn't have a reputation for being shut down by the board of health.  It's seems odd that with all of this sense of community we have very limited places that actually serve our community.

SML said...

Oops, I meant "interesting" enough...

Trevre said...

To little to late.  Just because something is better than nothing doesn't mean you have to be happy with it.  I moved here 2 years ago, nothing changed in that time.  I am sure others have been here much longer, with the same results.  Now they are talking about waiting until early next year?  6 months of surveys and construction to fix up the stores?  

The only question they should be asking in the survey: 
"What is most important to you relating to the Retail space on the Island?"
The answer you will always get is "Get retail spaced filled ASAP, not in 12 months, not in 6 months, not in 1 month, NOW!"

Thanks RIOC and the State of NY for dragging this on so long, you are a great example of why people hate government.  

SML said...

I hope the survey will be distributed on paper to all apartments in Northtown.  Not everyone reads or even knows about this blog, but everyone wants improvement of Main Street.

Francine Lange said...

I spotted the survey in paper form at the Island House doorstation. Folks, please encourage your neighbors to complete one. This is our chance to provide some good input on the retail space.

Francine Lange said...

I suggested a shared office space, similar to Green Desk. I think a lot of freelancers on the Island would appreciate a communal space, with office hardware, meeting rooms and chances to barter work among other small businesses.

Francine Lange said...

Just saw the survey at my doorstation, in paper form. I believe this is being taking seriously by the new leaseholders.

A Guest said...

We already have 2 places for you to get your hair cut? Why do you need another?

SML said...

I never shop in our overpriced,, understocked, dirty convenience store, but I would buy flowers if they had a stand outside, the way  every other similar grocery store in the city does. 

SML said...

Has the paper version of the survey been widely distributed?  I saw only a few copies of it on the mailbox ledge at 625 Main Street.  It should be placed at every apartment door.

Stojkov said...

Agree with all comments.  I do not shop on the Island. Have to go to Qeens or Manhattan. As someone mentioned, when I need a bottle of wine I have to drive to Queens. Supermarket is overprized and cashiers are extremely slow. Deli needs a lot of improvements, etc. We used to have bakery, pizza. Many shops were closed and nothing is re-open.