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If you have wondered how in the world Brookfield Place will open anytime soon, since you can see that all of the construction is still far from completed, your instincts are correct. Brookfield Place has managed to hobble together the Hudson Eats section on the second floor. However, the rest of the project is years away, BatteryPark.TV has exclusively learned.
The first-floor, 30,000 sq-ft food market and restaurant, to be called “Le District” (a concept similar to Eataly in Midtown), is not going to open until the “First Quarter of 2015”, according to representatives from the Poulakakos team on hand for the Hudson Eats opening. Therefore, since the earliest signs posted by Brookfield in 2011 proclaimed “Coming in 2013”, the rest of the food portion of the renovation is at least two years past schedule. That is a long time, even by construction standards.
Also, according to sources close to the other sit-down finer dining establishments, to be built along Vesey Street, very little progress has been made in those establishments. In fact, many more restaurants spaces still sit empty and un-leased. World renown chef Jean-Georges backed out after being courted by Brookfield.
Far more important than the food dining sections of the Brookfield Place renovations will be the large retail clothing shops. Sources tell us that those shops are now looking to open closer to 2016.
Why Brookfield is taking so long with this renovation in unclear. One executive who works in the Brookfield complex quipped, “I could have built this entire building faster than what this renovation is taking.”. He is actually correct. The entire World Financial Center was constructed in three years, once the pile drivers began. The nearby Goldman Sachs headquarters was constructed in three years.
Brookfield Properties has greatly inconvenienced the entire community for at least four years, with no definitive end in site. The closure of the ground floor pathway has caused the foot traffic to go up escalators and down steps. The farmer’s market located at the Liberty Street entrance left BPC years ago because of the disruption. Bicyclists have to bump into pedestrians along the detour that takes them by the North Cove Marina.
The Battery Park City Authority is the agency ultimately in charge of Brookfield and the renovations. In fact, many of the actual construction contracts were not only made by BPCA staff, but the BPCA also actually agreed to pay for much of the construction costs of the Brookfield Place renovations (BP.TV is awaiting FOIL’d documents). In other words, local residents who pay taxes in the form of ground leases and PILOT fees have been funding the cost to build a fabulous facility for a global real estate company, Brookfield Office Properties (Part of the Brookfield Asset conglomerate).
The BPCA staff has changed many times since 2011. Each time, woefully unqualified cronies have been hired to oversee construction projects, despite having no experience with “operations”. Making matter worse, the only qualified “operations” staff were fired in order to open up jobs for political favors.
For examples, the current BPCA CEO and Chairman, Dennis Mehiel, inexplicably promoted a career political-campaign-PR person, Anne Fenton, to be in charge of BPCA “Operations”. She was ultimately fired. Her boss was Gayle Horwitz, another political crony from the Bill Thompson administration, and she too was let go. Horwitz’s replacement, personally chosen by Mr. Mehiel, was career lawyer Demitri Boutris. He too was let go. Now, replacing Ms. Horwitz and Mr. Boutris, to be the third BPCA President in two years is Shari Hyman. Ms. Hyman is a former Assistant District Attorney, again with no experience at “operations”.
Ms. Hyman will speak before the CB1 meeting on June 3rd, at the library on North End Avenue, 6:00 PM. The public is encouraged to attend.