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NYCEDC Announces Winners of “Staten Island Storefronts: Race For Space!,” a Competition Encouraging Businesses to Open or Expand in Vacant Storefronts in Downtown Staten Island

NYCEDC Announces Winners of “Staten Island Storefronts: Race For Space!,” a Competition Encouraging Businesses to Open or Expand in Vacant Storefronts in Downtown Staten Island

Flagship Brewery, Crab Pizza, Metropolitan Citymarket, Exercise My Mutt, Settanta, Verrazano Crossfit, and Fire Grilled Burgers among the winners and will receive $25,000, $50,000, and $75,000 cash prizes

$425,000 prize pool leverages $11 million in private investment

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the winners of Staten Island Storefronts: Race for Space!, a competition designed to encourage catalytic businesses to open or expand in the Downtown Staten Island communities of New Brighton, St. George, Tompkinsville, Stapleton, and Clifton. The announcement was made inside Fire-Grilled Burgers, one of the winning businesses opening later this month at 1077 Bay Street in Clifton.  NYCEDC Executive Vice President for Development Thomas McKnight was joined by members of the competition’s advisory committee, Council Member James Oddo, Community Board 1 Chair Leticia Remauro, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce Communications Coordinator Ryan Gleason, Fire-Grilled Burgers owners and cousins Fuad and Alim Capric, and other competition winners. The nine winning businesses, all but one of which is owned or operated by a Staten Island resident, will receive a total of $425,000 to support leasing and capital improvements, leveraging the City’s support toward a total of $11 million in private investment, a return of 26-to-1 on the City commitment. Together, the nine winners are estimated to occupy over 40,000 of the estimated 100,000-plus square feet of vacant storefront space in Downtown Staten Island, energizing the area and infusing critical economic activity into the waterfront neighborhoods. The winning businesses anticipate hiring 34 full-time and 83 part-time employees.

“We are thrilled to support local businesses through the Race for Space, and in doing so work to reduce the storefront vacancy rate in the civic and cultural heart of Staten Island,” said Kyle Kimball, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “The $425,000 we invest is leveraging over $11MM in private investment, adding vitality and amenities to downtown Staten Island for residents and visitors alike. We congratulate the winners and look forward to their contributions to the continued economic momentum in the borough.”

The competition, announced in June, was called “Race for Space” to reflect its unusual format: rather than rating or ranking entries, Staten Island Storefronts adopted a first come, first served format, granting prize money to all qualified entries until the prize pool was exhausted. The competition yielded an eclectic mix of businesses, including restaurants, breweries, fitness facilities, pet care and more.  Under the rules of the competition, winning businesses must sign their leases within three months of being designated “winners,” and open their businesses (or expansions) within six months of the commencement of their lease.  Most winners anticipate opening their doors in summer of 2014, at which time they will receive the prize money.  Verrazano Crossfit, who opened their doors in August, received their $25,000 prize at the event.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of initiatives NYCEDC has undertaken to revitalize and encourage growth on Staten Island’s North Shore, the borough’s civic, transportation, and cultural hub that has also been home to a disproportionate share of vacant retail space. In concert with large-scale developments like the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets in St. George, and dedicated initiatives to spur entrepreneurial growth such as the Staten Island MakerSpace in Stapleton, the Race for Space winners will contribute to powerful economic momentum in Downtown Staten Island while creating new amenities and opportunities for residents and visitors.

“I am encouraged by the opening of new businesses on our North Shore, particularly in our waterfront neighborhoods,” said Borough President James P. Molinaro.  “In the coming years, many positive economic changes will be occurring in these neighborhoods, and small businesses will certainly play a large role in this revitalization of the area.”

“The Race for Space competition is a boost for Staten Island’s North Shore economy,” said New York City Councilwoman Debi Rose of the 49th District, Staten Island’s north shore. “Not only does it drive the economy by helping a business to establish itself here or expand, it also generates revenue for New York City.  I applaud the Economic Development Corporation for supporting the winning businesses, which will join the reenergized downtown Staten Island community.    And I congratulate all the entrants and participants for recognizing that Staten Island’s north shore is the place to be.”

“The North Shore is open for business and the long awaited revitalization is underway,” said Council Member James Oddo. “That message needs to continue to ring forward. And as the song goes, 'We've only just begun...'”

“I would like to thank NYC Economic Development Corporation, Mayor Bloomberg and our local elected officials for helping us to revitalize the north shore by launching this unique program,” said Leticia Remauro, Chair of Community Board 1 Staten Island.  “Staten Island Storefronts - Race for Space was an overwhelming success.   I want to welcome these new businesses to our area. I promise that your investment in our community will provide great returns in the coming years.”

“This competition was a great way to incentivize businesses to open their doors and create jobs in an area they may never have considered. It provided the resources needed to attract the right types of businesses - businesses that will add to the vibrancy and vitality of an economic corridor that has great potential,” said Linda Baran, President and CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber hopes that the NYCEDC will duplicate the program in other neighborhoods where investment and job creation are needed.”

“I would like to thank the FRESH program at NYCEDC, the NYCEDC staff and all the SI Storefront personnel for the lead up to the future Metropolitan City Market,” said Vincent Colangeli of Metropolitan City Market.  “I would also like to congratulate the other winners today for their hard work on their respective businesses on Staten Island in the greater New York City area.  I plan to bring my ‘A’ game to the supermarket and the community on day one, and know that our relationship will be a ‘fruitful’ one all the days moving forward. I believe the St. George community will have the opportunity to make healthy choices once we open and in addition dictate their likes and wants at Metropolitan City Market.  Choice and customer service will be our foundation and I know the residents of St. George will whole heartedly support us and be the ultimate judge of our success. “

“We are extremely grateful for the grant awarded to us by the NYCEDC! As small business owners and native Staten Islanders, the Flagship team is so excited to be a part of the great new additions to the North Shore Waterfront,” said James J. Sykes, Executive Vice President of Flagship Brewing Company.  “The NYCEDC, through this grant has shown that they truly believe in the people of Staten Island to build up our borough through small business. I want to express our deepest gratitude for the support and belief in our new company. The grant funds will without question help us in our mission to bring ‘Unforgettable Beer’ to what I guess is now, not such a ‘Forgotten Borough’ anymore!”

The nine winning businesses will be opening just as the construction of some of NYCEDC’s larger-format projects gets underway, such as Ironstate Development’s first phase of the Navy Homeport redevelopment in Stapleton, the New York Wheel, and Empire Outlets.

The first seven Race for Space winners include:

Verrazano Crossfit Prize: $25,000. Owner/Applicant: Alexander Federico. Square Footage: 1,550.  Lease: 5 years.  Capital Investment: $75,000.  Initially conceived as an onsite facility to promote employee fitness for the adjacent Coastal Plumbing business, Verrazano has opened its doors to the public and has sold 20 memberships to non-employees.  One of the first respondents to the competition and in the unusual position of owning their space, Verrazano was able to commence their fit-out over the summer and open their doors in September.  They have hired one full-time instructor and two part-time employees.  Memberships are $150/month, and their classes are at 6AM, 5:15PM, and 6:15PM Monday through Friday, and at 9 and 10AM on Saturdays.

Fire Grilled Burgers Prize: $50,000. Owner/Applicant: Fuad and Alim Capric. Square Footage: 1,139.  Lease: 5 years.  Capital Investment: $110,000.  Another early entry into the competition, Fire Grilled Burgers is the brainchild of Staten Islanders and cousins Fuad and Alim Capric.  They long dreamed of opening a business together, and were making plans to open a gourmet burger restaurant when they heard of Staten Island Storefronts.  Their ambitious business plan identifies this as the first of a chain of restaurants they intend to roll-out over the next two years.

Exercise My Mutt Prize: $25,000. Owner/Applicant: Neil Madero.  Square Footage: 2,700.  Lease: 3 years.  Capital Investment: $27,485.  Exercise My Mutt is a canine daycare facility catering to busy families and professionals who have the means and the desire to provide quality care for their pets while they are at work. It will provide canine care for both, (1) the residents of the North Shore of Staten Island (St. George, Stapleton, Tompkinsville, Clifton, and Rosebank), and (2) Ferry-bound commuters.

Metropolitan Citymarket Prize: $75,000. Owner/Applicant: Vincent Colangeli.  Square Footage: 11,000.  Lease: 25 years.  Estimated Capital Investment: $1,100,000.  Also an applicant to EDC’s FRESH program, PR Food Plaza will fill a gap in the availability of fresh produce for its surrounding community in St. George.  The business anticipates creating 17 full time jobs, and will be the only supermarket in a quarter-mile radius.

Settanta  Prize: $50,000. Owners/Applicants: Joseph Guastavino, Gennaro Pappalardo, Jeremy Pappalardo. Square Footage: 3,500.  Lease: 3 years.  Capital Investment: $105,050.  An expansion of Pier 76 Pizza to incorporate 70 Bay Street, providing additional seating and doubling as a party room / catering hall.  

Flagship Brewery Prize: $75,000. Owner/Applicant: James Sykes.  Square Footage: 13,500.  Lease: 10 years.  Capital Investment: $500,000.  From the business plan: “The brewery’s main focus…will be selling kegs and bottles of beer through a distributor to retail accounts in the five boroughs and surrounding areas of New York City.”  The brewery, developed by Staten Island natives, will also offer tastings, brewery tours, and new product launches at the facility.

Crab Pizza Prize: $25,000. Owners/Applicants: Vito Maglio and Damon Trifeletti.  Square Footage: 1,100.  Lease: 5 years.  Capital Investment: $150,000.  From the business plan: “[Crab Pizza] is a next generation pizza joint where ‘gimme the usual’ meets the unusual, where nostalgia meets whim…The pizza industry is evolving on many levels. Pizza wins popularity in its high percentage of consumption as approximately 93% of Americans eat at least one slice of pizza a month…[Crab Pizza] is a new trendy ultra modern pizzeria restaurant that will be using a new state of the art oven that has not yet been utilized in this current industry. The Pizzeria is positioned to take advantage of the market need and to serve the community.”


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


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