Photo credit: Office of the Staten Island Borough President
Encompassing the vibrant neighborhoods of St. George, Tompkinsville, Stapleton, and Clifton, Downtown Staten Island (SI) is a unique and bustling community that is poised to grow significantly over the next few years. Downtown SI, the transportation and civic hub for the borough, has over 31,000 residents including a growing population of young people and some of the most diverse communities on Staten Island. More than 4,000 people work in Downtown SI, many of them in the expanding healthcare, accommodation, food service, and education sectors. Every day 70,000 commuters pass through the Ferry Terminal in St. George, crossing paths with the 5,000 tourists who ride the ferry and stop to enjoy local cultural institutions and nearby retail and dining.
In 2017 residents and tourists alike will have access to some of the best views in the city from the world’s largest observation wheel, which will open on the St. George waterfront in Downtown SI. Next door, Empire Outlets is expected to draw 4.5 million shoppers per year when completed, and mixed-use waterfront projects along the island’s North Shore will provide space for expanding businesses and hundreds of new housing units, as well as open up new walking paths and some of the city’s best vistas.
|Summer 2013||Ground breaking at New Stapleton Waterfront|
|Fall 2013||MakerSpace, the Staten Island Business Incubator, opens|
|Spring 2014||Flagship Brewery, a Staten Island Storefronts: Race for Space recipient, opens|
Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge at the St. George Ferry Terminal opens
MakerSpace expands office space
National Lighthouse Museum soft opening
Ground breaking at Empire Outlets
Construction to begin at Lighthouse Point
New Staten Island Courthouse to open
Ground breaking at The Wheel
Downtown Staten Island
Four exciting new projects led by NYCEDC are in development in Downtown SI: Lighthouse Point, The Wheel, Empire Outlets, and the New Stapleton Waterfront. These four projects will build on Downtown SI’s existing strengths while providing Staten Island residents with additional retail options and better access to the underutilized waterfront, and they will encourage the two million tourists who ride the Staten Island ferry each year to step outside the Ferry Terminal and experience all that Downtown SI has to offer.
Details: The New York Wheel will be built just north of the Staten Island Yankees Ballpark and a quick walk from the St. George Ferry Terminal. At 625 feet tall, it will be 84 feet higher than the Singapore Flyer, currently the tallest observation wheel in the world. Thirty-six capsules, each holding up to 40 passengers, will provide unparalleled views of the New York harbor. The wheel is expected to welcome 30,000 riders per day during peak season and an estimated 4.5 million visitors per year. At the base of the Wheel, a new Terminal Building will include retail, restaurants, a 950-space parking garage, a 4-D theater and exhibition space about New York City history, alternative energy, and environmental sustainability.
Timeline: Construction is expected to begin in winter 2014/2015 and be completed in 2017.
More information: See the Press Release.
Details: One hundred twenty-five designer outlet retailers, a variety of restaurants and cafes, and a 200-room hotel will soon draw residents and tourists alike to the area now used as a parking lot between St. George Ferry Terminal and Staten Island Yankees Ballpark. BFC Partners will construct Empire Outlets, the 340,000-square-foot retail complex and 130,000-square-foot hotel, above a new, 1,250-space structured parking garage. Visitors will enjoy expansive open corridors to the water, contemporary materials reflective of the industrial waterfront, and a green roof visible from the harbor.
Timeline: Designed by SHoP Architects, construction on Empire Outlets is expected to begin in fall 2014 and be completed at the end of 2016.
More information: See the St. George Waterfront page.
Details: Located between St. George Ferry Terminal and the Stapleton waterfront, the Lighthouse Point development will include more than 100 residential units, 20% of which will be permanently affordable; a hotel; a diverse mix of retail shops and dining options; considerable public open space; and ample parking. Long the site of Coast Guard activities, the site has been vacant since 1984. The historic structures on the site, including four buildings, a set of underground vaults, and a wall, will be rehabilitated and incorporated into the development.
Timeline: Construction is set to begin in fall 2014 and be completed by late 2019.
Details: The former Navy Homeport is being transformed into a vibrant and environmentally sustainable addition to the Stapleton waterfront and Staten Island community. Located just east of the Stapleton station of the Staten Island Railway, what was once a 35-acre U.S. Naval Base will soon be a mixed-use residential community. In accordance with the community-driven, LEED-certified New Stapleton Waterfront Development Plan, the development will activate an underutilized campus through significant improvements in public infrastructure and the sustainable development of new housing and retail, while reconnecting surrounding neighborhoods to the waterfront for the first time in generations.
Timeline: Ironstate Development Company broke ground in 2013 on the first new buildings, with occupancy expected to begin in 2015. In 2014, NYCEDC completed the first phase of Front Street reconstruction and started construction on additional public improvements around the campus, including a new waterfront esplanade and open space.
More information: See the New Stapleton Waterfront page.
Staten Island experienced a 32% increase in private sector employment between 1990 and 2010, compared to only 4% citywide. With thousands of square feet of commercial office space, Downtown SI can offer businesses a more affordable option than many other business districts, easy access to Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the rest of Staten Island, and broadband connectivity that is among the best in the country, making it especially attractive to tech companies.
Available Commercial Incentives
See the NYC Department of Small Business Services' website for more information about incentive programs
Downtown SI offers plenty to see and do: a farmers' market, restaurants, shops, theatres, museums, free concerts and fairs in the parks, and one of the most scenic stretches of New York waterfront. At the St. George Ferry Terminal, along the Bay Street Corridor and in surrounding neighborhoods, Downtown SI’s commercial real estate is competitively priced and primarily made up of local restaurants, small retail businesses, and financial institutions.
More than 4,000 people work in Downtown SI and median family income in the area ranges from $33,750 to $89,524. With more than 1,000 units of housing being developed in the area in the next few years and millions of locals and tourists expected to visit the Wheel, Empire Outlets, and the island’s waterfront, Downtown SI will soon offer retail businesses greater foot traffic as well.
In 2013, Staten Island Storefronts: Race for Space, a competition run by NYCEDC, awarded a total of $425,000 to seven promising retailers opening in Downtown SI. The Staten Island Storefronts: Race for Space Winners included Verrazano Crossfit, Fire Grilled Burgers, Exercise My Mutt, and Flagship Brewery, all of which are owned by Staten Island residents and open for business. Metropolitan City Market, another winner, will be opening soon.
With approximately two-thirds of the area's housing stock comprised of rental units, Downtown SI’s housing market has more in common with New York City overall than with the rest of Staten Island, where owner-occupied housing is the norm. While Downtown SI units tend to have more bedrooms than the average New York City apartment, rents in Downtown SI are relatively low compared to both New York City and Staten Island averages. Downtown SI is also well served by Staten Island Railway, providing good access to the Ferry Terminal, and, therefore, lower Manhattan.
For more information on renting and buying in Staten Island, visit the webpage of the Staten Island Board of Realtors.
Artists and musicians have long gravitated to Downtown SI for affordable housing and work space with easy access to Manhattan. Staten Island MakerSpace and Staten Island Arts are two local groups that provide opportunities for artists and makers, while connecting the local community to the arts and creative expression through demonstrations, classes, and numerous events throughout the year, including the LUMEN Art Festival (photo, above), an annual, one day film/art festival.
Venerable cultural institutions such as Staten Island Museum, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, and historic St. George Theater all add to the cultural concentration of the area. In June 2014, the Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge opened at the Ferry Terminal, creating a dedicated space for artists to show and discuss their work.
With easy access to work and gallery space at places such as Staten Island Artist Building and MakerSpace, it’s no wonder that the New York Times called Downtown SI “Bohemia by the Bay” in 2007 and “a destination for young people in the arts” in 2012.
LUMEN Art Festival photo courtesy of Mike Shane Photography.