Three World Trade Center retail space is still a dark void

More than a year after Three World Trade Center opened its doors, the tower’s Church Street-facing retail base remains embarrassingly dark.

And retail mall operator Westfield blames the Port Authority.

Westfield says it can’t bring in store tenants because it still doesn’t have the keys. “The space hasn’t been handed over yet,” a company spokesperson said — meaning by the Port Authority.

A PA rep didn’t get back to us by deadline.

The global mall giant — known as URW (Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield) since a 2018 merger — cryptically blames the delay on “waiting for the base building of Tower Three.”

Yet they were announcing major signed restaurant leases as long ago as 2017.

Three World Trade opened its doors in June 2018. The 80-story tower’s 2.5 million square feet of office floors are nearly 60 percent leased to tenants, most of which have already moved in. Silverstein Properties developed the tower and owns the office floors, but Westfield owns and operates the retail space.

The PA plans to open a new transit lobby this week that will connect the Oculus mezzanine with Three World Trade’s office lobby.

Whoever’s to blame, the 75,000-square-foot retail space on the tower’s ground floor and lower level remain sadly empty on the eve of Sept. 11. Two huge restaurant deals — with Eleven Madison Park super chef Daniel Humm and with British steakhouse Hawksmoor — collapsed last year when they got fed up with waiting.

Previously reported leases with Tiffany and Laduree appear to be going nowhere, either.

The dark void at the tower’s base on Church Street, across from Century 21, is the most visible, but not the only blight on the Trade Center’s Westfield-controlled, 365,000- square-foot shopping complex, which includes the Oculus, the retail portions of both Three and Four World Trade Center, and connecting concourses.

The leaking skylight at Oculus, which will remain closed to the sun for the annual 9/11 observance on Wednesday, might symbolize the whole flawed enterprise.

Oculus architect Santiago Calatrava, the PA and Westfield brought forth the most bizarre shopping mall between the Atlantic and Pacific. The 56,000-square-foot floor of the so-called Calatrasaurus — bigger than Grand Central Terminal’s — is too long and wide to generate the concentrated energy of a narrower space.

Another retail component, the West Concourse which links the PATH terminal and Brookfield Place, is more than half vacant. Westfield blames it on “work being done [behind the storefronts] for the Performing Arts Center.” That doesn’t explain the concourse’s upper level, which is directly attached to the base of One World Trade Center.

Meanwhile, Westfield is being sued by Duane Reade for failing to turn over a space it leased “in tenant-ready condition.” Both sides declined to comment on “ongoing litigation.”

The entire Westfield-run mall — which includes the lower floors of Three and Four World Trade Center as well as storefronts in several adjoining concourses — remains a confusing, counter-intuitive maze.

There’s inexplicably no way up or down between the floor and mezzanine levels at the Oculus’ west end — forcing strollers to detour a long block east.

Unlike at Brookfield Place or Hudson Yards, there isn’t a single, sit-down restaurant with waiter service — only a bunch of fast-casual spots including Epicerie Boulud, which I gave up on after repeatedly failing to get the attention of immobile, customer-averse staff, and a feeble, little-trafficked food hall called Market Lane.

URW’s US President, Jean-Marie Tritant, told Bloomberg in July that the complex needs more places to eat as well as other alternatives to apparel and jewelry stores. He said the goal was to reduce fashion leases from about half to one-third of the mall’s total space.

The Oculus
The OculusWilliam Farrington

But it’s still dominated by the likes of Dior, Hugo Boss, Stuart Weitzman and Charles Tyrwhitt.

Westfield usually handles its leasing duties in-house, but it recently brought in CBRE to help.

CBRE retail powerhouse Andrew S. Goldberg said they were “actively marketing the Three World Trade store space but referred us to Westfield for all other comment.

A Westfield spokesperson said, “URW will take possession of the Three World Trade Center space in the near future.”

The rep acknowledged, “The restaurant leasing deals expired due to the delay in availability of the space.”

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