Is Amazon Opening a Bookstore Here?

After W. emailed that the Financier café at Brookfield Place has closed, I went over for some recon. I started at the World Trade Center, where I noticed that yet another store has bitten the dust: Caudalie. “I miss it, too!” said the guy working at MAC across the way, mistaking my interest in real estate for one in skincare.

Perhaps the South Concourse’s lower level was overloaded with beauty stores…. I didn’t scratch Forever Flawless because I can’t remember if it’s still open or not; the company’s website says it is, but no one answered the phone.

Then it was on to Brookfield Place. Sure enough, Financier is closed. Was the combined competition of Le District and Starbucks was too much? Or does Brookfield have more upscale ambitions for that space?

I’ve always thought that the big Sant Ambroeus opening in the complex would have to have an entrance onto the Winter Garden, and I assumed it was the big vacant storefront on the upper level. But it’s actually along the little street-level hallway (below) that leads to the Ermenegildo Zegna store. This is according to the guys at Zegna, who definitely stand to benefit from not being on a dead end.

I went back upstairs to ponder the big vacant storefront (below). I realized I should ask the staff at Oliver Peoples, since they could use some company in that corner. The blockbuster rumor: They heard that Amazon is opening a store there. Is it true? Time will tell. For what it’s worth, Amazon already has a relationship with another Brookfield Office Properties, having signed a lease in April for 360,000-square-feet of office space at Brookfield’s 5 Manhattan West in Hudson Yards. And it’s other New York City bookstore is in a mall, too.

 

19 Comments

  1. Brookfield Place is doomed before it even opened. Can a ‘mall’ in manhattan really survive on lunch business? Why would anyone shop there when you can go to the ‘real’ versions of the same stores/restaurants in soho or midtown?

    • These are chain stores. The “real” versions are NOT in Soho. Soho is just annoyingly turning into an outdoor mall unfortunately.

      Also you come down here because you can shop and enjoy the beautiful waterfront. Shop then enjoy drinks/lunch or just a walk along the waterfront. US Open tennis courts had a crowd on the North Cove.

      In the winter, come for the warmth and not having to shop outside.

  2. Financier and Le District have common ownership.

  3. The kids books section in the amazon store at Columbus Circle is A+. I do my best to go to Books of Wonder but when I need yet another gift for the gazzilionth birthday party my daughter has been invited to, the Amazon store is my go to. Be great to have one closer by.

  4. It’s a little surprising how many stores have closed in the Trade Center given the amount of foot traffic the entire complex gets. They need to find their niche.

    • “Brokers warn WTC mall needs to shape up to draw shoppers,” in ‘Real Estate Weekly’ in mid-May:

      ” ‘It made a lot of sense and everyone thought it was a home run,’ said Alan Napack a senior director with Cushman & Wakefield of the 365,000 s/f mall located within the transportation hub running underneath the striking Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus. ‘But the reality was less than the expectations.’

      ” Napack said the beautiful design attracts a lot of people walking through, but the design wasn’t ‘configured right for retail’ given its wide spaces between retailers.

      […]

      “According to Richard Hodos, CBRE’s vice chairman of the New York Tri-State region retail services team, people may pass by the World Trade Center mall, but they don’t often stop to visit the shops.

      ” ‘One issue is that they don’t have enough people entering the apparel, shoe or accessory stores,’ Hodos said. ‘People are passing through. They may be tourists who just visited the 9/11 museum, or they are office people who are in a rush to get to their destination — whether it’s to catch a train or get to their workplace.’

      “Hodos, who was involved in getting London Jewelers, Roberto Coin, Victoria’s Secret and others into the mall, added that Westfield inherited the layout from the property owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and its architect, Santiago Calatrava.

      ” ‘The design is confusing to a customer who hasn’t been there before,’ Hodos added. ‘And to a commuter, the easiest and quickest route is to cut straight through the middle and not get anywhere near the shops.’

      “Hodos noted that certain retailers are doing well, including quick-stop food chains like Starbucks and Joe & The Juice. He said that stores like Sugarfina or the mall’s many watch retailers are attracting the tourists who look for gifts and high-end purchases. But clothing retailers weren’t having as much luck given the design, he said.

      “The World Trade Center is a transportation hub and most successful retailers there are ‘grab-and-go,’ Hodos said. ‘Some of the apparel, shoe or accessory stores — where people have to spend time to contemplate a purchase — are challenged. Others are improving as the center hits its stride.’ ”

      http://rew-online.com/2018/05/16/brokers-warn-wtc-mall-needs-shape-draw-shoppers/

      • I still think they stocked the mall with too much of the same type of store: apparel, beauty, jewelry, etc. Why not a gym or SoulCycle, or other fitness option? A movie theater or something experiential? If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that people don’t shop the way they used to—a point that the Westfield WTC mall seems to have missed entirely.

        • Agreed. The whole thing makes little sense, and ignores its inherent advantages. The old WTC mall was much more densely packed and, unlike now, with convenient options for actual commuters and neighbors.

          See old layouts here:

          http://www.labelscar.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/WTC%20Map.jpg

          http://www.rkchin.com/wtcimages/wtcmall.gif

          Once they chose to change the layout, in part to justify building with $4 billion of public money a white elephant around a central atrium, WTC mall became more similar to Grand Central’s layout, with a large open main space and multiple retail levels, without the architectural significance or history.

          The new WTC mall aimed to be a luxury mall that could be located in any generic upscale suburb 10 years ago, disconnected from commuters and neighbors, for extraordinary rents. Crain’s says that for a 1,200 square feet coffee and bakery spot, “Fika’s rent started at $30,500 per month in the first year and rose to more than $43,000 in the 10th and final year, according to a rent schedule filed in court.” (Who knows what the percentage rent on top of that was?)

          Commuters are simply not habituated to buy anything at WTC, unlike at GCT. GCT has more food options, both dining and retail, more regular services that people need, Grand Central also offers a wide range of services (shoe shine and repair, optician, pharmacy, watch repair, even tennis racket repair), and even exhibit space, a small transit museum annex and a tennis court!

        • FYI

          There is an Equinox gym in the mall. I’m a member.

          There is also a Regal Movie theater across the street which is kinda considered a part of the mall by locals because it is so close.

  5. I wish they would put a Bath and Body Works in the Oculus.

  6. There is an Amazon Bookstore in the Westfield mall in Century City in LA.

  7. Considering how many people live in downtown Manhattan, I am always surprised by the lack of chain home furnishing stores in the area…PB, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, etc. it seems like a niche that could be filled.

  8. My only consumer experience with the Oculus was when I needed to take my Imac (yes, a gigantic 27″ beast) in for repairs, and it was a nightmare. The Oculus is really hard to access – tourists block everything lingering for photos and selfies, many of the doors don’t open automatically or don’t have a handicapped button, and the escalators constantly change directions from day to day. The bathrooms have egress and ingress for one at a time, which creates insane bottle-necks in a mall that’s supposed to contain thousands of people at once.

    I was told by an employee at the Apple store that all of these design flaws were actually “features” intended for anti-terrorism reasons – to keep the mall from having a consistently and predictably accessible layout and to have few straight and direct exits and entrances. That may make sense as a security precaution (although it seems like it would massively thwart efficiency in the event of an evacuation), but it’s a huge turnoff from the standpoint of a customer who wants the shopping experience to be easy. I have absolutely no intention to go back there to shop again.

    In contrast, Brookfield place is lovely and I find it absolutely packed on weekends with couples and families. I laugh at how high-end a lot of the retailers are, but I haven’t experienced it to be noticeably empty the times I’ve been there. And contrary to C2C, I like Brookfield precisely because it’s the opposite of the stressful crowds in Soho and Midtown. To me, Brookfield is where you go when you want a more relaxed suburban afternoon without having to leave Manhattan.

  9. It is apparent that the foot traffic of rushed commuters and the shopping-bagless tourists will not carry the overhead for these stores. As a local in Tribeca we find it so convenient and with beautiful light coming through both at Westfield and Brookfield it’s a pleasant and aesthetic experience.
    Locals have not caught on according to the retail staff of some of the stores we frequent. I guess the mindset is to go north to more established shopping areas. Market to the locals. It’s one stop shopping.

  10. I personally think the whole thing needs a yr. or 2 more to settle in and then it will all work out.

    Just how every newspaper was calling it the ugliest thing in NYC that was ever built, during construction and was unpainted.

    WTC 3 just opened also,

  11. The thought that a business can wait two or more years to “find their niche” or “settle in” just isn’t realistic for many businesses.
    The old WTC had a modest subterrainian shopping mall ideal for commuters including a watch kiosk that sold a well rounded stock of watches in a broad price range. The practical barbers and cobblers were pushed out of World Financial and the surrounding neighborhood. The expectation that two large retail destinations can profit while being just across the highway from one another is troublesome. Even large realtors have their limit.
    Urg, please no Amazon.

  12. What surprises me most about the WTC is the lack of reasonable, seated dining. You’d think if you were looking to attract and keep people – locals, tourists, office workers, commuters – you would provide places for them to eat in a leisurely fashion until at least the time the stores close. Yes, there’s Eataly, but it’s up and out of the way, and one eatery, without waitress service, near PATH. The “restaurant row” upstairs doesn’t even have cafe tables near it, although there’s plenty of room there. I’m sure someone must have thought about this and there’s some explanation, but it escapes me.

    As for Brookfield, the promenade is wonderful and reminds me of Europe. With 60,000 people living below Chambers, the population equals a decent U.S. city. Brookfield figured “If we build it they will come” and obviously, from the number of store closings, that’s not quite true. This isn’t 5th Avenue, don’t try to be.

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