More details on the plans for Best Market space

So this is what we know so far about Cocoon, the “social and learning club for families” in the works for the Best Market space at 316 Greenwich. At Wednesday’s CB1 Licensing Committee, the presenters were met with a fair amount of hostility from neighbors at Independence Plaza, who complained that the applicants did not appear before the tenants association first. The neighbors are also committed to another supermarket for the space, which, while a great idea, is not on the table at this juncture.

The founders are Battery Park City residents Karl Chong and Megan Lucas-Chong (who have two young kids) and LES residents Jenny Lo and Tony Yu (who also have two young children). (That’s Karl and Jenny in the photo below.)

  • Chong is an investor for the Chong Family Trust and was a co-founder of Groupon Singapore starting in 2010. (He’s also part of the Australian invasion of Tribeca — and from Sydney.)
  • Lucas-Chong is an art educator and a curriculum designer for art museums around the world
  • Lo does brand strategy and development for online and digital publishing
  • Yu is the founder of the Roeblin Group, a boutique real estate firm

My best description of Cocoon based on what little we know so far would be “urban country club” but without the social register and — I am guessing — the hefty initiation dues (“We are making efforts to create an accessible price point,” Karl wrote in an email.) The business model is membership-based and the focus is entirely on families with kids. Some other factoids:

  • 18,000 square feet on the first floor and basement
  • hours are Sunday through Thursday, 9 to 7, and weekends 9 to 10
  • dining area is 1800 square feet with 24 seats and 4 tables plus a food counter with 13 seats

More from Karl: “We expect the community space to be a very small part of Cocoon’s identity and what we hope to achieve after launch. We’re mission based, and our mission is clear. We want to help support and empower families through their parenting journey.”

They are applying for a “Restaurant Wine” license, which (according to the state SLA) “allows a person to serve beer, wine and cider in a restaurant for on premises consumption. The restaurant must have a kitchen and full menu. The sale of unopened beer to go is allowed.” (Roadies!)

The website says coming this spring. But if you caught Friends & Fashion, you know the space is pretty raw. The basement looks even more so, based on the pictures in their proposal.

Their marketing material — what little they have now — identifies Cocoon as next to Washington Market Park, which they consider to be key to the site’s appeal.

The idea, they said at CB1’s meeting, is to find a place where families can gather but also learn together. There will be classes, and they said they are working with experts from Teachers College to figure out just what kind.



  1. Are the residents of International Plaza owners or renters?
    Does any prospective commercial space tenant have to appear before the tenants association first?
    It sounds like the TA would be hostile to any idea that is not a supermarket.

    • What difference does it make on whether a person owns or rents? It isn’t outrageous to dream that another Best Market would open up in the space but short of a miracle that isn’t going to happen.
      But a person living in a TriBeCa dwelling is a person with rights as a taxpayer. And against popular belief; we ALL pay taxes.

    • The International Plaza Condominium is a White Glove, Doorman Luxury Building, located at the edge of Historical Tudor City.

  2. I feel sorry that the Chongs had to deal with the B.S. from the tenant’s association, who clearly believe they have more power than they actually do and believe their manufactured passion makes them right. It doesn’t. What happened to supporting your local stores (Morgan’s Market, Amish Market, Hudson Market, Max Delivery, etc.)?

    • Manufactured passion?

      First off clueless, the Chongs neither live nor work in TriBeCa so who the hell are they? What are their true intentions with the space? The community which includes the IPNTA has a right to know. It looks like a bar-club disguised as a “social club” for who?

      Second, manufactured passion? WTF are you talking about? Nothing manufactured just a group who has fought for IPN tenants rights for decades – and you? What have you ever done for IPN let alone TriBeCa? Some members of the IPNTA and myself are the reasons TriBeCa exists as a viable place to live – we paved the way whether you like it or not, hater! We got Food Emporium to come here, Washington Market Park built, BMCC built too. The TA has no “power” or more say than they should have. Who died and made you the one to decide that? You don’t like them opposing this stupid doomed to fail business, too bad.

      Last we need another supermarket, an alternative and complement to Whole Foods/Amazon if only because if they close this neighborhood is a supermarket desert. TA members and myself have supported Morgan’s Market since before you were born or at least moved here. Amish and Hudson Markets have and want nothing to do with the community, and both are glorified bodegas. Max Delivery? Are you serious? They are not part of the community here either. They’re not even a friggin supermarket/place open to the public. The TA was here way before, before, during, right after, and well after 9/11 so you can zip it about them – all of you people sore that you don’t have below market rents which is what your anti-TA/IPN BS is all about. Who asked you to pay 6K or more for a studio or one-bedroom? Idiots.

    • Yeah, your “manufactured passion” comment was offline buddy. Plug it.

  3. “Roadies!” Lmao.

    Since it’s a family urban country club in TriBeca, more like “Strollies” (strollers + roadies)…

    Yes, I own the TM on “Strollies”…you can use it for free 5 times if you are just reading it here for the first time on TC ; )

  4. As a resident of the neighborhood from the mid-seventies with no kids I have zero interest in this place. It bears no resemblance to anything I’d ever envisioned for the neighborhood, and, in fact, speaks of a certain privileged gentrification that I find dismaying. Yet I can’t harbor anything but benign feelings, and I can even muster well wishes. What I found utterly obnoxious was the response to your first posting on this. I mean, look at the profiles of these people. They really seem like dangerous sorts, don’t they? They’re absolutely out to ply pre-schoolers with booze, right? Let’s all rise to an occasion of our own creation, why don’t we?

  5. Do not like the idea of a club at all but then again I guess it is better than a boarded up store front. I too feel that we need more Food options ( Pizza,Chinese take out etc) and would love another “Normal “ Supermarket. But since I too am not willing to invest in one , I will not complain.

  6. As a parent in the neighborhood I’m all for indoor space geared towards families. There’s not much to do in the winter with young ones (for those of us who don’t live in massive condos). We belong to the Manhattan Downtown Community Center which is ok but about half as good as it could be. This place sounds like a modern upgraded version of the DCC and perfectly located next to the park. I’m eager to see more specifics, including price point. I do hope it’s a place that is geared towards serving the community as much as making money.

    It sounds promising enough to me. I hope they get a chance to flesh out their plan in more detail before people oppose it outright.

  7. The real problem/issue is that Stellar Management and Vornado (the majority owner) show little sense in community/neighborhood development. Rather than look at the needs of the community not just as a self interested landlord (which they are), and try to put forward a well thought out plan that benefits not just them but the neighborhood services needed, they instead lease to a new venture with no prior experience without caring about what the people really need and want. That is why they could care less about keeping most of their retail portfolio shuttered rather than working on seeking the businesses that would serve TriBeCa best. Your bad Mr. Roth.

  8. I think it would make for good community relations for them to offer a number of subsidized memberships for the “less privileged” families in the neighborhood.

  9. As one of the Public Members sitting on the Licensing Committee
    we try to represent the views of our Tribeca neighbors. A market is a very real need in that space and Vernardo has twice put one in that space to great success. It may still happen. There are loads of empty spaces all around Tribeca. The young people behind Cocoon presented a very very unspecific proposal but the idea of beer at 9AM and open public membership (yes, you don’t have to have children to buy in and come and sit down)caused many to pause about a space that would be open to ANYONE. This space is huge. Sorry but safety is a huge concern.. But the people we met later seemed genuinely willing to talk so that’s what’s got to happen. Talk with Vernardo and others because whatever goes in this space. IPN sits at the base of thousands of peoples ‘ HOMES.

  10. All these comments demonstrate the dire need to end rent stabilization and licensing committees ASAP. Beer at 9am? AWESOME!!! Doesn’t Sarabeth’s serve beer at 9am?

  11. To A: Quite the FULL-ON rant you got going. Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? Some of what you say is true, but attacking local businesses sure deosn’t seem like a good way to attract more of them..

    Since you wrote: “the IPNTA and myself are the reasons TriBeCa exists as a viable place to live – we paved the way whether you like it or not,” I guess everyone is supposed to Thank You or Kiss Your ___ or call you the Lewis & Clark of downtown’s far West Side? NOTE: Altho not called Tribeca, our neighborhood has been inhabited for more than a century before those two ‘went west’!

    These streets were here before you and will be afterward too. I have no reason to support yet another ‘kids club’. We sure have plenty of them now, right? Altho one with a bar was a ‘nice’ idea for all the frazzled parents I guess. However, I also have no reason to oppose it.

    Your reasoning per following is absurd: “we need another supermarket, an alternative and complement to Whole Foods/Amazon if only because if they close this neighborhood is a supermarket desert.” WTF? And if they close Barnes & Noble we’ll need another bookstore, right (with apologies to the Warren St. mystery book store)? If you love MORGANS (as I do too), then it will still be here as will Amish. Altho you call the latter “a glorified bodega” why does the same not apply to Amish?

    Finally, you may not have noticed but Target has much more than a glorified bodega in it’s basement, albeit one w/o a deli counter. Oh, I just realized you’d have to walk a few blocks to TARGET — more effort than just taking the elevator downstairs.

    You do express yourself very well. All one has to do is read between the lines now & then.

  12. PS I am NOT the same “BEN” who previously posted a response.

  13. I have no dog in this fight, other than I live down the block and also miss the markets. Business is business and there is some reason both markets went out of this space. Food emporium was kind of disgusting. And Best Market through out so much produce and food that it’s a wonder the entire chain is even in business.

    With that, this is the weirdest program and layout I’ve ever seen but like Karl’s LinkedIn says: “I back proven teams, striving to do something disruptive and a little weird.” Weird can be a business model.

    From the limited information on the floor plans, it feels like a Chuck E Cheese without all the games. It seems like a place where parents can let the kids roam freely, while they kick back and drink. Okay… Fortunately or unfortunately, one cannot get a ticket for drunk-stroller-driving.

    Checking out the company’s one and only “representative” photo on the company’s Instagram page*, accessed through the website (link below), it does look a bit more interesting, though sparse.

    Presumably the Chongs have done their due diligence and found that there are a lot of kids, under the age of 10, and their parents who would frequent this place. We raised our kids, so this won’t be top of our list, though we live a block away, but I wish them the best of success! At least the strollers will be contained. ;-)

    My only concern, is that it seems like the space will be seasonal. What parents will want to hang out there in the summer when there is all the River Park and NYC to explore?!

    There are at least two other business models I’d prefer to see go into the space, but I’m not prepared to drop cash into the project, so I’ll keep them to myself. Other than that, I’m Vornado doesn’t much interest in improving or even renting spaces, let alone the community.

    Who knows? Could be promising! What’s the worst that could happen? They fail and the space is available again in two years? Or they succeed and the community has a good business? That’s the “American Dream” for you… risk and reward…or failure.


  14. IPN tenants seem very entitled. It’s hard to differentiate between Diane or A or Slithers.