ROOSEVELT ISLAND MAIN STREET RETAIL STUDY

Prepared by: Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, Inc. Planning & Real Estate Consultants MJB Consulting Prepared for: Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation October 2009

ROOSEVELT ISLAND MAIN STREET RETAIL STUDY

ROOSEVELT ISLAND MAIN STREET RETAIL STUDY

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. II. Executive Summary Study Objectives 1 5 7 9 21 25 29 39 45 47

III. Methodology IV. Existing Conditions V. Main Street Principles of Success

VI. Roosevelt Island’s Main Street VII. Market Analysis VIII. Recommendations IX. Conclusion Appendix

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Photo credits: Cover image: www.bing.com/maps Historic map, page 4, and The Smallpox Hospital, page16 and Roosevelt Tramway image, page 18: Images of America: Roosevelt Island; Judith Berdy and the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, Arcadia Publishing, 2003. Grand Central Terminal image, page 40: http://commons.wikimedia.org Myrtle Avenue shopping image, page 23: http://www.myrtleavenue.org Proposed Roosevelt Tramway Redevelopment, page 18: RIOC All other photographs: PPSA

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I. Executive Summary
Toward a Cycle of Success on Main Street
The original vision of Roosevelt Island was the creation of a diverse, mixed-income, self-contained planned community on an island in the heart of New York City. Many aspects of the original plan have been fulfilled. As the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan and Ground Lease from the City of New York approach their 40th Anniversary, Roosevelt Island is a growing and diverse neighborhood with incredible views, unparalleled open spaces and a unique transportation system. However, Roosevelt Island’s retail sector has struggled from the start. As a result, the “excitingly urban” Main Street envisioned in the General Development Plan has yet to materialize. In fact, 66% of residents cite “poor shopping options” as the Island’s greatest weakness.1 In recent years, a new “town center” has emerged in Southtown where Duane Reade, Starbucks and other retailers are taking ground floor spaces in new residential buildings with nicely landscaped public spaces. The Island’s growing population represents a renewed opportunity for Main Street retailers. However, without a significant improvement to Main Street, there is a real threat that the center of the Island’s retail and civic activity will permanently shift to the Southtown area, leaving behind more empty storefronts on Main Street. Based on the feedback received throughout the study, stakeholders and residents alike overwhelmingly want Main Street to be the primary commercial and civic center of Roosevelt Island. In order to realize this vision, intervention is urgently needed to reverse the history of failure on Main Street. Given Roosevelt Island’s spending power and consumer priorities and preferences, there should be at least several successful and well-liked neighborhood-serving establishments that can be established on Main Street. Indeed, many of the convenience-oriented retail categories, including deli, grocery, drycleaners and hardware store, are already represented. However, there is general dissatisfaction among residents about the quality of service, appearance and product offerings of those existing es1 According to a survey of residents conducted as part of the study. The survey results are detailed on p. 26.

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tablishments. Simply put, there is a mismatch between retail supply and consumer demand. Other findings of this report include: • • Roosevelt Island residents do just 12% of their shopping on the island.

The solution to the Main Street problem is not just a matter of adding more retail.

The existing retail mix on Main Street is failing to capture the new market opportunities afforded by the island’s growing affluent market. Main Street suffers from several design flaws. Residents have a very negative attitude towards Main Street. Roosevelt Island is gaining affluent residents while maintaining its economic and ethnic diversity. Cultural and athletic activities bring thousands of visitors to Roosevelt Island each year, but this translates to very little spending on Main Street. The most desired new retail uses from residents on Roosevelt Island are a bakery, a restaurant, a green grocer, an ice cream shop, a pizzeria and fish store. There is sufficient demand to support at least a small-format green grocer, a bakery, another sit-down restaurant and a quick-service food and beverage establishment.

• • • •

It should be stated at the outset that the Roosevelt Island market is somewhat unconventional as its commercial space is regulated by a public authority, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and therefore subject to the provisions of the Public State Authorities Act.2 A significant part of RIOC’s public purpose is to maintain and operate the Island’s neighborhood infrastructure, which would include Main Street. There are benefits (e.g., site control) and burdens (e.g., restrictive and lengthy leasing processes) associated with public authority governance, but there is no question that retail success is achievable within this regulatory framework.3 The main challenge is how to craft a balanced tenant solicitation and leasing process – in compliance with the Public State Authorities Act – that utilizes the control vested in the public authority to provide a sufficient supply of quality retail stores to serve its residents. The public purpose in providing a sufficient supply of neighborhood-serving retail stores on Roosevelt Island is clear. In an urban environment, neighborhood retail can generate local jobs; encourage entrepreneurship; promote healthy eating through the provision of fresh food options4; reduce traffic/transit congestion and carbon emissions associated with traveling to purchase convenience goods outside the neighborhood; stimulate other complementary beneficial uses, such as cultural establishments; and promote a unique local character and sense of place. In the case of Roosevelt Island, successful retail would also generate revenues for the RIOC which could be channeled back into services for residents and financial assistance for developers and merchants during tough economic periods. On the other hand, a dearth of neighborhood-serving retail stores results in fewer local
2 3 4 The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation was created in 1984 as a public benefit corporation charged with maintaining, operating and developing Roosevelt Island. It began operations in 1986. Grand Central Terminal, also operated by a public authority, provides an example of a thriving retail environment subject to the same regulations as Roosevelt Island. This case study is detailed on p. 40. The City of New York has recognized the adverse effects on quality of life and health associated with poor quality grocery options. See “Going to Market: NYC’s Neighborhood and Supermarket Shortage,” a study published by the Department of City Planning in April 21, 2008. [available online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/supermarket/index.shtml]

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job opportunities, more traffic and congestion on local roads and subways, consumer spending outside of the community, a lack of synergy necessary to create an active mixed-use environment, unhealthy eating habits, aesthetic blight and a generic “any-townUSA” environment. For Roosevelt Island, this would also mean a loss of revenues. Therefore, any regulatory obstacles which prohibit the advancement of this public purpose should be immediately reexamined. The solution to the Main Street problem is not just a matter of adding more retail. Rather, the emphasis of this report is on improving quality rather than simply adding quantity, and utilizing strategic marketing in place of haphazard or virtually no real marketing efforts, and targeted rather than dispersed and ineffective physical improvements. This report focuses on identifying the missing pieces or strategies that will unleash latent market forces and sets forth a sound and realistic plan to implement those strategies. The overall aim is help Main Street realize its potential as the true Town Center of Roosevelt Island. Specifically, the report recommends six major interrelated intervention strategies to set a new life for Main Street in motion: • Create a public/private partnership to lease and/or help manage Main Street. Pursue specific streetscape interventions and create appearance standards and design guidelines for Main Street retailers. Revive the Roosevelt Island Chamber of Commerce to be the steward of Main Street success. Re-organize existing non-profit uses to maximize available marketable space, and cluster appropriate non-profits into space more suitable to function. Make Good Shepherd Plaza the “town square” of Roosevelt Island. Create a “Gateway to Main Street” at the southern entrance point to Main Street.

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II. Study Objectives
The thrust or purpose of this Study is to provide answers to the following eighteen questions: 1) 2) 3) 4) What is the appropriate retail square footage required for Roosevelt Island’s population size and market? What are the basic retail products and services necessary for a community like Roosevelt Island? What are the most marketable spaces on Main Street? Are there spaces that are more suitable for particular retail services or products (for example, a restaurant); are there retail services or products that require particular spaces which Roosevelt Island cannot/should not accommodate as presently configured (for example, an OTB Parlor or the type of store that requires frequent deliveries and parking)? What retail products and services do the residents desire? What retail products and services do the residents want to exclude from Roosevelt Island? What do residents believe was the cause for past retail failures on Roosevelt Island – particularly the fish store, bakery and pizzeria? What do the residents think of the quality of service, products and presentation of retail stores and services on Roosevelt Island presently? What are the space needs (both from the viewpoint of use and needs) of the non-profit organizations presently on Main Street? How suitable are their present spaces? What would be the most suitable spaces for accommodating the non-profit organizations on Roosevelt Island? What services and facilities can be shared by the non profit organizations to make them more efficient and reduce their individual space needs (for example, sharing conference rooms and copying facilities)? How can the retail dollars for Main Street merchants be captured from visitors that already presently frequent Roosevelt Island, but don’t shop on the Island?

5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13)

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14) 15) 16) 17)

How can more visitors be attracted to Roosevelt Island to spend retail dollars on the Island? What basic “way finding” and other signage should the RIOC require, install or employ? What other aesthetic modifications to Main Street are recommended? What minimal standards should the RIOC impose on its merchants regarding the quality of service and shopping experience at their stores? 18) What additional questions need to be asked and answered so as to improve the quality of the Main Street retail experience of residents, merchants and visitors?

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III. Methodology
The findings and recommendations presented in the report are based on the following sources: • • • • • • • • • Initial discussions with the RIOC representatives Resident surveys Feedback from Study Advisory Committee members Past retail and development studies Site visits to document retail inventory and conditions Independent economic and demographic data Research regarding existing, recent, and new development Data received from the RIOC Advisory Committee and internal workshops to synthesize information and determine issues and opportunities

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IV. Existing Conditions
Planning Context For the first-time visitor, Roosevelt Island’s scale, character and layout is distinct and striking. Planned as a model, car-free and self-sustainable community, the Island has a rich history, especially in regard to its urban planning and design history, its interesting architecture, its walkable and pedestrian-friendly network of streets and walking paths, and its breathtaking views and numerous open spaces. The Island is accessible by three transportation modes – car, train and subway – and via three “gateways” or access points – the F Subway line, the Tram and the Roosevelt Island Bridge from Queens (see Figure 1). While the Queensboro Bridge crosses over the Island to connect Manhattan and Queens, there is no direct connection to the Island via the Queensboro Bridge. Those driving from Manhattan to reach Roosevelt Island must take the Queensboro Bridge from Manhattan to Queens, then spend a ten-minute drive through Queens before accessing the Island from Queens via the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Key to the Island’s assets is its enviable location. Surrounded by water on all sides, and an esplanade that runs the entire length of the Island on both sides, the Island offers unparalleled views of New York City’s skyline and harbor. The physical shape of the island, the waterfront, the scale of buildings, its historic elements, and open spaces all contribute to the Island’s unique urban design character. The island is about 2 miles long and about 800 feet at its widest point (about two typical NYC block widths). Therefore, its overall layout and form are linear. The Island is organized around its central north-south “spine” or Main Street with residential buildings, retail uses, institutions (hospital, schools, churches etc), recreational areas and open spaces running along the entire length. All of the retail, residential and commercial uses are on the north side of Queensboro Bridge, while the Goldwater Hospital Campus, the landmarked Small Pox Hospital Ruins, the Strecker Lab and open spaces are to the south of the Queensboro Bridge. Two important additions to the Roosevelt Island landscape, sure to attract tourists and visitors, are underway as well. A 10 acre park at the Southern end, encompassing the Small Pox Hospital Ruin, broke ground this past May. Furthermore, the FDR Memorial, designed by noted architect Louis Kahn more than 40 years ago, is scheduled to break ground in the fall of 2009.

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While Main Street is the primary continuous north-south connection on the Island, there are visible and accessible east-west connections. Main Street serves as a single “spine” for much of its length, but splits in two south of the Blackwell House and surrounding the new Southtown development. Both ends of the Island – north and south – are distinguished by parks/open spaces and the two large hospital complexes, and there are several more open spaces scattered throughout the Island. The original buildings on Main Street, known as the WIRE buildings (Westview, Island House, Rivercross and Eastwood), are built right up to the street wall with sidewalks and retail uses and/or arcades on the ground floor. The Brutalist-style architecture characteristic of the late 1960s and early 1970s used in the design and construction of the WIRE buildings on Main Street is distinct. The buildings were designed by several different architects but are harmoniously tied together by urban design guidelines set forth by two renowned architects of the time, Phillip Johnson and John Burgee, in the original General Development Plan. The buildings generally step down towards the waterfront and provide a terrace-like effect along the river. At the same time this design makes Main Street feel dark, giving it a canyon-like effect. The buildings are accented with red along window sills and are characterized by ribbed block facades. Roosevelt Island feels more like a small town within New York City rather than a neighborhood; it certainly has all the basic elements of a small town: a cobblestone Main Street with arcades, upper-floor residential uses above ground-floor retail uses, few cars, and its own distinct schools, hospitals, and both large and small open spaces. The island also possesses a magnificent collection of historic structures which are currently in various states of repair. However, unlike most small towns, there is no central “Town Square” or central gathering space that is readily identified and used by the community. Built Environment The portion of Roosevelt Island which falls within the study area of this report consists of high-density multifamily residential buildings with ground floor retail and community facility/non-profit space. As already discussed above, the WIRE buildings on Main Street were designed in the Brutalist style, a modernist movement characterized by the use of exposed concrete and minimal decoration. From an aesthetic viewpoint, Roosevelt Island’s Main Street is very different from a traditional Main Street. This is both a blessing and a challenge. A typical historic Main Street is often eclectic, a product of different periods of construction, which provides it with various architectural styles, colors and forms. Roosevelt Island’s Main Street is quite monotonous by comparison. However, as will be explained in the market analysis and highlighted in the recommendations which follow, there are clear opportunities to enliven Main Street by introducing more color and light, as well as additional activity associated with programming and activities. The WIRE buildings form a narrow canyon-like environment along Main Street. The east side of the street is characterized by a semi-enclosed arcade that runs along the ground floor of the Eastwood buildings. The corridor provides protection from the blustery winter weather, but it also has the detrimental effect of impeding the visibility of the storefronts from passersby on the opposite side of the street and in some cases to pedestrians in the arcade itself, due to poor lighting and signage. Signage for most of the stores has been placed on the exterior of the corridor facing the street. On the west side of the street, the storefronts in the Rivercross, Island House and Westview buildings form a stepped pattern that follows the curvature of the street. Residential Buildings in the Study Area5 The main residential buildings, running from south to north within the Study Area, are as follows: 1. Rivercross, the only Cooperative Housing Corp. on the island, is regulated under the Mitchell Lama program by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DCHR). It is comprised of 377 co-op units. The former Eastwood building, whose name was changed to Roosevelt Landings in winter 2009 following its purchase by Urban America, is comprised of ten interconnected buildings. It contains 1,003 rental apartments, including 283 for the
Listed by geographic location from south to north.

2.

5

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Figure 1: Access and Connections on Roosevelt Island

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elderly and physically challenged. The property’s Mitchell-Lama status expired in 2006. 3. Island House, the first building to open on Roosevelt Island. It contains 400 Mitchell-Lama rental apartments. It has an indoor swimming pool which is closed. Westview, comprised of 361 Mitchell Lama rental apartments. It contains an indoor swimming pool. The building was designed by Sert, Jackson & Associates. Manhattan Park, which contains 1,107 rental apartments, consists of four market-rate buildings and one federally-subsidized 222-unit building for seniors and low-income families (Section 8). It contains a large auditorium and an outdoor swimming pool. The complex was designed by Gruzen, Samton and Steinglass.

4.

5.

The residential buildings in the study area generally contain some open space/community space component in the rear courtyard, including playgrounds, basketball courts and an outdoor amphitheater. Urban Design Challenges The design and layout of Main Street presents certain physical barriers to allowing the retail sector to fulfill its potential. First, the glass storefronts and glass partitions along Eastwood’s semi-enclosed arcade generate so much glare that it is virtually impossible to see into the stores from across Main Street. Dirty windows exacerbate this problem. The general dirtiness of the glass is a common complaint from residents and merchants. Moreover, the recessed entries to the storefronts inside the corridor are dark and uninviting. It should also be noted that from the southernmost entrance point near Blackwell House, a clear end-to-end view of Main Street is obstructed by the dogleg shape of its spine. In fact, approximately just one-half of the length of Main Street is visible entering from either the north or south ends of the corridor. Little or no retail signage is visible from the entrance points at Blackwell Park and at Motorgate. The lack of visibility from end-to-end is somewhat constraining as it makes the retail stores invisible to new visitors to Main Street and also discourages them from venturing onto the street. In general, buildings in the study area are in fair condition. This is primarily due to the relatively recent construction of Main Street’s buildings (1970’s for WIRE buildings and 1990 for Manhattan Park). Overall, however, Main Street is in need of a beautification and improvement program. Numerous storefronts are in poor repair and the majority of the storefront exteriors and the store spaces themselves are quite dated and in need of renovation, not to mention dirty. In fact, a majority of the respondents to the Main Street survey indicated that one of key reasons they do not shop in stores is because they are “dirty and unclean.”6 Ground Floor Uses The majority of the buildings along Main Street are mixed-use with retail/institutional spaces (many of which are vacant) on the ground floor, and residential uses on the upper stories (see Figure 2). Although perceived as the center of commercial/retail activity, only one-third of the 42 storefronts along Main Street are retail or commercial in nature, as evidenced by the following makeup: • • • • 14 Retail spaces 13 Lobbies/residential 10 Non-profit/community 5 Vacant spaces.

To make matters worse, with the exception of the ground floor uses in Rivercross and Island House, the majority of the ground floor retail and/or institutional spaces can only be accessed via arcades (as shown in Figure 3). The arcades typically alternate with glass panels in every other bay. While the arcades add an interesting feature to Main Street and allow apartments to overlook
6 The survey is further explained on p. 26.

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Figure 2: Square Footage of Ground Floor and Second Floor Spaces
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Figure 3: Arcades on Main Street
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Main Street directly – typical of most Main Streets – the glass panels contribute to this poor visibility due to glare and dust, and block any direct view of the stores from outside. The storefronts in Rivercross and Island House have an interesting geometry as the façades are articulated with stepbacks (in plan) defining each storefront separately and creating pocket plazas along Main Street. Open Space Any description of Roosevelt Island is incomplete without mentioning its recreational/open spaces. The Island has virtually every type of passive and active open spaces (both private and public) that a community of its size could need or desire. These include but are not limited to community gardens, lawns, parks, plazas, promenades, soccer fields, basketball courts, baseball fields, picnic areas, and many more – unlike just about any other neighborhood in New York City. Many of the open spaces are programmed for special events, festivals and other activities throughout the year, but are particularly active during summer. Though some of the spaces are “park-like,” none are technically “parks” as defined by statute. They are maintained by the RIOC, rather than by the New York State and New York City Parks Departments. While most of this open space is public, there are some privately-owned open spaces and recreational facilities on the Island. Many of the residential complexes have swimming pools.7 Internal courtyards with amphitheaters, auditorium spaces and private/semi-private terraces are prominent features. The Island has several public open/recreational spaces such as Capobianco Field at the northern end of Main Street, the Chapel of Good Shepherd plaza at the center, and Blackwell House Park and Playground to the south. In addition, all the “WIRE” buildings along Main Street have central courtyards with seating, lawns, trees and amphitheater, which provide an almost private or semi-private enclave between Main Street and the promenade. The promenade has seating, trees and a continuous bike/walking path that runs along the perimeter of the Island connecting almost all recreational/open spaces. This is one of the Island’s great assets, providing amazing views of the bridges and the skylines of both Manhattan and Queens. There are several pathways which physically connect Main Street to the promenade, but the prom7 Island House (closed), Rivercross and Westview have indoor swimming pools; Manhattan Park and Octagon have outdoor swimming pools.

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enade is largely visually disconnected from Main Street as it is obscured by the residential buildings and other built features. Roosevelt Island boasts a regular calendar of events and activities in the open spaces located throughout the island. These include concerts at the Firefighter’s Field, outdoor movies during the summer, fireworks viewing in Southpoint Park, junior tennis programs at Octagon Park and Roosevelt Island Day, which is held every June in the Good Shepard Plaza. Some of the major destinations on the Island are located towards the two ends away from Main Street – Lighthouse Park, Octagon Park to the north and the FDR Memorial park (planned), historic Small Pox Hospital and Strecker Lab structures, Sportspark and the RI Racquet Club to the south. Several visitors and residents just go directly to these destinations, completely missing or avoiding the “Main Street” experience and its retail/commercial uses. The following is a comprehensive list of all major recreation/open spaces and parks on the Island, starting at the northern end and moving south (see Figure 4): • • • • • • • • • • • • Lighthouse Park – seating areas, lawns, barbeque and picnic spaces Octagon Park – regulation size soccer/sports field, 200 community gardens, picnic and barbeque areas, six tennis courts and a baseball diamond Capobianco Field – Little League baseball/softball field, handball, paddleball and basketball courts Blackwell House Park and Playground – parks, playground, seating, basketball courts Meditation Steps along waterfront Pier – seating, landscaping Firefighter’s Field – sportsfield, outdoor events Riverwalk Commons – landscaped lawn, seating areas Sportspark – sports complex with indoor swimming pool, squash courts, basketball courts Tennis and Clubhouse – tennis courts, clubhouse Southpoint Park – park with “green rooms” and “wild gardens” (under construction) Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Park – park with seating, landscaping (The project is approved and scheduled to break ground in Fall 2009 proposed).

New / Proposed Development The most significant trend on Roosevelt Island is the recent addition of market-rate residential units. These have been developed in two areas: the Octagon in the Northern section of the Island and Southtown, which is located around the transit stops. Southtown buildings 5 and 6 are almost complete. Three more buildings are planned, awaiting improvement in market conditions. New residential developments will not be on Main Street. This completes all of the development contemplated in the amended General Development Plan. If there is not a significant change on Main Street, it will be difficult to attract existing and new Southtown and Octagon residents to the street. The new development of Southpoint Park, the FDR Memorial and the stabilization of the romantic ruins of the Smallpox Hospital, originally designed by James Renwick, represent a tremendous opportunity to draw more visitors to the island. However, under current conditions there is simply no reason why any of those visitors would ever set foot on Main Street. Seizing this opportunity will require immediate action to satisfy residents and visitors as well as to seriously compete with Southtown retail.

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Figure 4: Destinations and Open Space on Roosevelt Island

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Redevelopment of the Aerial Tramway (the first urban mass transportation tram in the world, built in 1976), slated to start in March 2010 and to be completed within 6 months, promises to increase the number of tourists/visitors coming to the Island as well. The current tram, which is 33 years old, carries approximately 2 million passengers per year. While most are regular commuters, the tram is considered a tourist attraction and appears on the itinerary of many tour groups, both foreign and domestic. The modernized tram, which will include state of the art innovations and green technology should prove to be an even greater draw as the status of the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway is restored as the most modern form of urban mass transit in the US, a position it originally occupied when first installed in 1976. Community Activities Civic engagement is a hallmark of the Roosevelt Island community. The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) is perhaps the largest and most active civic entity on the island. Other prominent organizations include the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, the Main Street Theater and the Roosevelt Island Parent Teachers Association. The following list represents a sample of the cultural and seasonal events and activities sponsored by Roosevelt Island organizations – each of which represents an opportunity to establish synergy with Main Street: • • • • • • • • • Summer concert series Summer movie series Roosevelt Island Garden Club RIVAA gallery shows and events Art installations (e.g., Encampment) Roosevelt Island Historical Society Walking Tours Main Street Theater shows Roosevelt Island Day Health and Fitness Day • • • • • • • • Earth Day Black/Hispanic/Women’s History Months Halloween parade Little League parade Fourth of July Fireworks Book Club (hosted by library) Fall for Arts Winter Tree Lighting.

The RIOC should continue to look for opportunities to host major events that could attract a citywide audience. The central location of the island along with its unique history, views and open space make it a prime candidate for such activities. Main Street partnerships and initiatives could potentially leverage the civic engagement activities to help improve the street. Partnerships could include those with Municipal Waterfront Alliance, Open House New York, links with Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum; annex of The SculptureCenter, and the Public Art Fund. Demographics Roosevelt Island is an economically and racially diverse community of approximately 14,000 people. The median household income of Island residents is $57,196. The median age is 42.3 years. 48.9% of the residents are white; 23.7% are African-American, 15% are Asian, and 11.1% are Hispanic.8

8

Claritas 2009 data.

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The addition of market-rate units in Southtown and the gradual expiration of Mitchell-Lama controls on the original WIRE buildings have attracted more mixed-income families to the island. Roosevelt Island residents spend about 28% of their income on housing. This is identical to Manhattan overall (28%) and slightly less than Queens (32%).9 Island employees Another important component of the Roosevelt Island community is the worker population. Roosevelt Island has approximately 3,000 health care jobs at the hospitals. Three hundred and eighty-four (384) people (11.4% of total) who work on Roosevelt Island also live on Roosevelt Island. Based on fieldwork conducted in preparation of this report, it is apparent that the US Census Bureau’s data, which includes both full-time and parttime jobs, fails to capture all retail employment on the Island. For instance, while Census data indicates just 15 retail jobs on the entire island. It is estimated that Gristedes employs as many as 15 people on its own. Assuming that each additional active business (13) employs an average of 3 total employees, the total number of jobs just within Main Street’s current retail sector is more likely around 55. Most people who work on the Island commute from Queens. Only around 20% of Island employees commute from Manhattan. However, there are also workers who commute from as far as Bergen County, NJ and Westchester County, NY.

Figure 5: Jobs on Roosevelt Island10 Health Care and Social Assistance 2,943 Administration & Support, Waste 122 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 108 Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 63 Retail Trade (adjusted) 55 Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 22 All Other Jobs 89 87.50% 3.60% 3.20% 1.90% 1.60% 0.70% 2.60%

Figure 6: Where Island Residents Work Manhattan Queens Kings (Brooklyn) Westchester Nassau Suffolk Bronx Bergen (NJ) Hudson (NJ) Essex (NJ) All Other Locations Source: US Census Bureau Figure 7: Where Island Workers Live Queens Manhattan Kings (Brooklyn) Bronx Nassau Bergen (NJ) Westchester Richmond Suffolk Hudson All Other Locations 1,062 846 395 303 262 136 77 61 55 47 118 31.60% 25.20% 11.70% 9% 7.80% 4.00% 2.30% 1.80% 1.60% 1.40% 3.50% 2,282 215 144 102 79 72 69 33 29 15 145 71.60% 6.80% 4.50% 3.20% 2.50% 2.30% 2.20% 1.00% 0.90% 0.50% 4.60%

Visitors The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation has limited data on how many tourists and visitors come to the island each year. A Source: US Census Bureau study of tram ridership conducted in December 2008 to January 2009 revealed that approximately 50 tourists/visitors, including school groups, visited the island via the tram each day. This obviously does not include those visitors traveling by subway or car. It is likely that daily visitors would significantly increase during the warmer summer months. The Roosevelt Island Historical Society had about 13,000 people stop by its visitor center from May 2008 until the end of the year.11 Overall, it seems reasonable to assume that approximately 30,000 to 40,000 people visit the island each year.

9 10

11

US Census Bureau, American Community Survey Source: US Census Bureau, LED Origin-Destination Data Base, 2006. The employment data used in this application are derived from payroll tax (Unemployment Insurance) payment records maintained by each state. The states assign employer locations, while workers’ home locations are assigned by the Census Bureau using data from multiple Federal agencies. Age, earnings, and industry profiles are compiled by the Census Bureau from a state’s records and are supplemented with other Census Bureau source data. Final compilations and confidentiality modeling are performed by the Census Bureau. Interview with Judith Berdy, President, Roosevelt Island Historical Society, February 26, 2009.

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V. Main Street Principles of Success
It is worthwhile to examine “main street” retail guiding principles and best practices, and determine whether these can and should be applied to address Roosevelt Island’s Main Street concerns. A healthy “main street” is an indicator of a healthy community. In the best examples, “main street” embodies the particular values of a community – it is what makes a neighborhood unique. For example, its local foods and customs, arts and culture communicate its identity and instill a sense of pride in its residents. A successful main street encourages an active day and nighttime (not necessarily 24/7) environment where people can enjoy restaurants, entertainment and civic events, in addition to simply shopping for daily needs. The synergy between these uses has direct economic benefits and also provides “eyes on the street” to encourage a well-lit, safe and inviting place. A resident who attends a concert or visits an art gallery might also have dinner along Main Street. Civic spaces such as the town hall, the library and post office provide community meeting spaces, and provide another opportunity to capture dollars from local residents who visit these institutions and from employees who work there. A successful Main Street also possesses a strong sense of place. As retail centers have, in the decades following World War II, increasingly moved away from downtowns, suburban shopping environments are often characterized by a “nowhere America” feel, where one is unable to find any reference to the character and values of the local community. Typically, a shopping environment in suburban Phoenix does not look all that different from a shopping environment on Long Island. In short, these retail environments lack a sense of place. Even in New York, the rapid increase in national chain retailers in certain urban shopping environments has had similar effects. As an example, the plethora of national bank chain locations in the East Village and other New York neighborhoods has arguably eroded longstanding elements of the local retail fabric. Ultimately, these trends could increase the value of traditional Main Street arrangements like Roosevelt Island because people are rediscovering the vibrancy of Main Streets with an authentic and unique sense of place.

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There are six aspects to a vital and active Main Street: 1. Retail and Mixed-Uses – The most successful downtowns, Main Streets, and possesses a strong sense neighborhood retail corridors contain some component of service-oriented retail of place. for its residents, a variety of restaurants and entertainment uses, and a varied collection of unique and locally-owned shops. A typical Main Street retail offering emphasizes quality over quantity. In other words, where a mall may be attractive due to the sheer quantity of its retail offering, Main Street typically provides a smaller selection of quality stores that are specifically targeted to the residents and visitors/tourists. Civic Presence – Historic Main Streets and even more recently developed suburban Main Street/Town Centers tend to include a library, post office or other civic use to function as an anchor of the street. Roosevelt Island is fortunate in this regard, because the library is truly the most beloved location on Main Street. Surveys indicated that residents view the library as among the best “storefronts” on the island. The island also contains a post office. However, unlike many prototypical downtown Main Streets, Roosevelt Island’s post office is not really a presence on Main Street. In addition, the RIOC offices, which are located in the same place since their inception, are tucked away in space unsuitable for offices. As a government entity, the RIOC offices should be located in a more central and visible location, with space for community meetings and conferences. With its growing staff, it would add to the civic presence on Main Street. Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Uses – The cultural arts and entertainment have played a major role on Main Streets across America – particularly in the revitalization efforts that have taken place since the 1980s. Arts and culture activities, events and cultural destinations serve the needs of the local community, but, even more importantly from a commercial perspective, can also make Main Street a regional destination. Roosevelt Island has on occasion been in the spotlight on the cultural calendar. However, most attendees arrive by Tram or subway and never set foot on Main Street. The 2007 “Encampment” art installation drew several thousand visitors and, more recently, an improvisational art group, brought by Southtown marketers, performed in Southpoint Park, engaging hundreds of visitors and residents. Fourth of July has in the past brought 4,000 visitors to view the fireworks from the southern tip of the island. Those fleeting moments in the cultural arts spotlight offer a glimpse into the tremendous potential to solidify the island as a regional destination for such exhibits, activities and events. Sustaining and growing this component of the community will be key to the future success of Main Street. Even more important will be drawing those visitors from the Tram and subway station to Main Street. Vibrant Public Space – Main Streets typically include some space that facilitates social gathering and interaction. The most typical examples are town squares or public parks. On Roosevelt Island, the Chapel of the Good Shepherd courtyard space has tremendous potential to function as the true center of Roosevelt Island and it often fulfills its potential. While Roosevelt Island Day is a wonderful use of this space, there are few other such events throughout the year. Clearly, it has been underutilized to date. According to survey responses, residents like the courtyard and see the potential for greater usage. However, the most important aspect of a Main Street’s public realm is the street itself. Making Main Street a more pedestrian and bike-friendly environment and enhancing its attractiveness should be a key goal for Roosevelt Island. Preservation – Historic preservation is a key principle of virtually all successful Main Street programs. While Roosevelt Island’s architecture may be somewhat quirky and much more contemporary in comparison to the typical historic Main Street, its buildings are nonetheless deserving of a strong rehabilitation program. Roosevelt Island needs to instill in its merchants, residents and other stakeholders a preservation ethic – not in the traditional sense of sprucing up or rehabilitating landmark-quality buildings, but in pursuit of the sustainable ideal of keeping and improving what they already have. Like it or not (and there are residents on both sides of the favorability spectrum when it comes to its architecture), the Brutalist architecture is there to stay.

A successful Main Street

2.

3.

4.

5.

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6.

Manager/Coordinator – A vibrant, successful Main Street rarely develops organically. Rather, it is the product of the time, planning and creativity of a “team,” typically comprised of a dedicated group of community members, with the general support of residents, and led by a professional. In the best examples, Main Street is managed by some coordinating entity such as the Chamber of Commerce or Business Improvement District, or a Friends of Main Street. To date, Roosevelt Island has lacked such an effective entity to develop and then carry out a vision for improvement. Indeed, the creation of such a professionally-led, effective organization is a key recommendation of this report.
Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (Brooklyn, New York) The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership oversees the economic revitalization of Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Its major initiatives include storef r o n t / f a ç a d e improvements, business retention services, public art and marketing programs. The Partnership is comprised of two entities, the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project Local Development Corporation (MARP) and the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Business Improvement District (BID), working together to assist the small businesses located along the avenue and improve the quality of life of the surrounding neighborhoods. The Partnership boards of directors are comprised of avenue merchants and property owners, local business and community leaders, universities, notfor-profits, and area residents. The Partnership has a fulltime staff of five individuals.

Ultimately, success is derived from the synergy between these components. It need not excel in every aspect, but some element of each is necessary. Synergy creates the vitality and support needed to nurture sustained growth. Based on the success of other Main Streets, it is perhaps not surprising that Phillip Johnson and the original planners of Roosevelt Island included a Town Center/Main Street in their vision. The following section recounts the original intent of Roosevelt Island’s Main Street as described in the General Development Plan, and provides an historical assess-ment of its performance in light of the “main street” principles described above.

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VI. Roosevelt Island’s Main Street
In the typical “main street” revitalization scenario, a community can recall a time when Main Street was the vital center of civic, economic and cultural life. Older residents regale planners with stories about the presence of enduring local retailers, such as the barber, the grocer, the hardware store, the pharmacy, the post office, diners, bakeries, etc. Main Street was where people worked, shopped and socialized. Then, as recounted in such movies as “Back to the Future,” after World War II, people moved to the suburbs, Main Street declined and its charming historic architecture and vibrancy deteriorated. Roosevelt Island, however, is different. The history of the Island’s Main Street actually begins during the period in which the prototypical American Main Street was in decline. Main Streets across America were deteriorating and, in many cases, being refashioned as pedestrian malls (e.g., Fulton Mall). Alarmed by this trend, the planners of Roosevelt Island envisioned a traditional Main Street that would provide the backbone of a thriving and diverse community. Its architecture is not in the Italianate, BeauxArts or Federal style, as one might see in a Norman Rockwell painting. Rather, Roosevelt Island’s Main Street is a product of its time: a Brutalist adaptation with high-density multifamily residential buildings and a partially enclosed arcade. According to the General Development Plan, Roosevelt Island was planned to include a Town Center area in which the majority of its retail would be located: “The Town Square will be focus for the Island life and, together with North Town, will contain commercial facilities sufficient for the daily needs of New Community residents and persons working in New Community offices. Office and retail space, community facilities, and public open space will be developed in and around the Town Square area.”

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In reality, the “excitingly urban” Town Center, which would have been organized along an east/west axis in the vicinity of the Blackwell House, never took shape. The Town Center was to have included two large public spaces, a glass-roofed retail arcade, a 300-room hotel, and 200,000 sq. ft. of office space. In reality, the actual development of the island was a significant departure from the vision of Johnson & Burgee. Instead of developing a Town Center with a centralized retail core, it was dispersed by placing ground floor retail space in all of the residential buildings along Main Street. Main Street has struggled since its inception. A variety of retailers have come and gone over the years, including a Bigelow pharmacy, a fish store, a pizzeria, an Italian restaurant, a sports bar, a bakery/café and a cobbler. As early as 1977, the New York Times was already reporting that Islanders “[spent] the three and a half minutes over the East River juggling shopping bags and packages from Manhattan stores” before carrying “their purchases past 15 empty storefronts on the way to their apartments.” In this respect, Island life has changed little over the past 30 years. Survey of Residents A survey conducted as part of this study indicates that the values and attitudes of residents towards Main Street are a key reason for its persistent failure. Among the highlights of the survey are the following findings: • Main Street retail is the island’s most glaring weakness in the eyes of its residents: 66% of residents cited “poor shopping options” as one of the three worst things about Roosevelt Island. “Shopping quality” (12%) and “Gristedes” (10%) were cited as the main culprits. The most frequently cited reason for shopping on Main Street was because there is “no alternative” (46%). The top three reasons residents do not shop on Main Street are 1) it is “dirty and unattractive” (31%); 2) the limited number of stores/goods (44.1%); and 3) high prices (55%). The top 5 most frequented shops on Main Street are (in order of frequency), Gristedes, Trellis, the deli, the drycleaners and the farmer’s market. The most desired new retailers on Main Street include the following: – Bakery (50%) – Restaurant (41%) – Green grocer/new deli (32%) – Ice cream shop (18%) – A better grocery store (11%) – Bar or lounge (11%) – Pizzeria (11%) – Fish store (10%). Residents would shop at Main Street stores given: 1) “better quality and cleaner” (79%); 2) a “better selection and variety” (35%); and 3) “less expensive/better prices” (32%). Residents were also asked what they would change about Main Street. By far and away, the most frequent response was “clean the exterior and the interior of stores” (75%). Other responses included “more stores” (24%), “improve overall streetscape” (18%) and “more on-street parking” (8%).

• •

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Overall, the survey seems to indicate that residents would increase the frequency and amount of shopping they do on Main Street, provided improvements are made. These improvements basically fall in two areas: 1) new and improved retail stores; and 2) a cleaner and more pleasant shopping environment, both in terms of the interior/exterior of each store, and the overall streetscape. Existing Retail In addition to the negative attitude of island residents towards Main Street is the fact that Main Street has struggled to overcome some fundamental defects. Main Street, as Roosevelt Island’s heart, is malfunctioning. The problems are complicated but rooted in two basic factors: the overall amount of retail space is too large for its population, and the size of the retail spaces themselves are too large. 1. Amount of Space There is simply too much retail space for a population of 14,000 people. A retail rule-of-thumb is that each resident of a diverse mixed-income community such as Roosevelt Island would generate 20 sq. ft. of retail, of which no more than 10% to 20% is local. This would mean Roosevelt Island residents could support between 28,000 and 56,000 sq. ft. of retail on the island. Main Street alone has 41,405 sq. ft. of retail space – and with the addition of Gristedes (approx. 22,000 sq. ft.) and the retail in Southtown (15,000 sq. ft.) the Island has a total of close to 80,000 sq. ft. of retail space. Furthermore, its isolation as an island makes it difficult to draw a regional market. Currently, there is little reason for interaction between the island and the rest of the city as its attractions have not been properly leveraged. Aside from potential increases in spending by tourists and visitors, without a significant and sustained destination draw there is little reason to assume that Main Street retail can be supported by anyone but the current residents and workers. 2. Size of Spaces The footprints of many of the ground floor retail spaces are simply too large, averaging 1,953 square feet.12 “Mom and Pop” merchants cannot afford the rents for such large spaces nor do they really need and have the ability to maintain the extra space. By comparison, the footprint of the typical neighborhood retail storefront in the East Village in Manhattan is 500 – 1,000 sq. ft. These two major problems have been perpetuated by an unhealthy relationship between merchants, residents and RIOC. Conversations with stakeholders revealed a cycle of failure: merchants complain about high rents; residents complain about the poor appearance and level of service of existing retail; residents sometimes directly confront merchants; residents stop shopping on Main Street; merchants fail to pay rent; vacant storefronts blight Main Street; and stigma and an atypical leasing process makes finding new tenants difficult. Overall, Roosevelt Island’s Main Street is currently in a suspended, dissatisfactory state. On the bright side, all parties appear to be united in their desire to improve and support a revitalized Main Street; indeed, residents and other stakeholders want to give Main Street a new life and establish it as the civic and commercial center of the island.

12

The following Main Street storefronts were included in the calculation: 619, 615, 607-609, 605, 599, 579, 567-571, 563, 559, 549, 523, 521, 513, 507, 503, 570, 568, 566, 564, 546, 544, 532, 530, 520.

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VII. Market Analysis
In order to understand Roosevelt Island’s spending power and consumer profile, demographic, income and spending data derived from Claritas, Inc. PRIZM NE was utilized to establish a psychographic profile for Roosevelt Island’s trade area. Claritas uses demographic data and information about consumer product purchases, lifestyles and media interests to classify households into 66 distinct demographic and behavioral segments. This classification system provides a description of each segment’s lifestyle and shopping preferences. In addition to the use of the Claritas psychographic profiles, an analysis of sales leakage data was undertaken. Leakage data can help estimate the additional number of stores that can be supported in various merchandise categories. Such conclusions are arrived at by comparing the amount of money spent by households within a particular trade area in a given category to the actual sales of trade area business in the category, then dividing the existing leakage by average sales-per square foot and average square-foot-per-unit figures based on national averages for the type of shopping environment. The following market analysis lays the groundwork for recommendations related to Roosevelt Island’s retail potential. Demographics and Psychographics From an economic viewpoint, Roosevelt Island is a tale of two markets. The first, dating from Northtown’s first phase and resulting from the large stock of affordably priced Mitchell-Lama units in the original four WIRE buildings (Westwood, Island House, Rivercross and Eastview), contains significant numbers of low- and moderate-income households. The WIRE buildings contain approximately 697 households in Section-8 units. The average adjusted income of those households is $23,094. As a whole, about 27% of the households on the island have incomes below $25,000. However, it should be noted that at least 65 of those Section-8 households are larger households with annual incomes over $50,000.13

13

Based on Section 8 income data provided by building managers to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

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The second market on the island consists of well-educated, well-paid households in the newer market-rate units in high-rise buildings such as Manhattan Park, The Octagon and Riverwalk. The recent addition of those households has further diversified the island market. According to 2009 data from Claritas, Roosevelt Island currently contains – on average – a more educated and wealthier population than the average for New York City itself: • • • 45.9% of the 25+ population has a B.A. or higher degree, compared with 27.4% citywide. 85.3% of the 16+ population work in white-collar jobs (21.3% management; 40.5% professional), versus 64.1% citywide. The median household income is $57,196, versus $46,939 citywide.

The economic and ethnic diversity of the island is supported by psychographic information culled from Nielsen-Claritas’ PRIZM NE lifestyle segmentation database.14 Understanding the psychographics of a target market can be revealing. While demographic data can help determine the social and economic characteristics of a population, psychographics delve deeper into the lifestyles, attitudes and values of consumers. Information about their likes and dislikes can be invaluable in making determinations about whether or not residents are likely to purchase a particular product or service. Psychographically, the segment with the heaviest concentration on the island is a segment called “Money and Brains,” which accounts for 31.25% of all households. These are older married couples, aged 45 to 64, with one teenage child. These residents tend to be very well educated, earn high incomes (the median household income for this segment is $89,037), and have sophisticated tastes.15 The next most prevalent is a segment called “Bohemian Mix” (19.90%). These are young, ethnically diverse, alternatively-minded singles, couples and families, with decent incomes (the median household income for this segment is $54,237). About 17.89% of the island population falls into the “Young Digerati” segment, which is characterized by young, ethnically diverse families who are very well educated, earn high incomes (the median household income for this segment is $85,671) and have trendy sensibilities. About 14.18% of island households belong to the “Urban Elders” segment, which means that they are headed by ethnically diverse widowers aged 55 and over, with poor educational backgrounds and low income levels (the median is $24,535). Another 16.75% fall into the “Urban Achievers” segment. These households tend to be young immigrants, aged 18 to 44, who arrived recently and live alone or with large families, and who earn modest incomes (the median income is $35,409). These households
14 15 This proprietary system uses demographic data and information about consumers’ product purchases, lifestyles and media interests to classify households into 66 demographically and behaviorally distinct segments. These are ascribed semi-humorous but quite descriptive monikers to portray a flavor of each segment’s lifestyle, hence shopping, preferences. Please see the Appendix for detailed description of each segment.

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are striving to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Many of these households were likely attracted to Roosevelt Island because of its affordable housing supply. Given the current plans for additional market-rate development in the Riverwalk complex, it is likely that the “Money and Brains,” “Bohemian Mix” and “Young Digerati” segments will increase as a proportion of the island’s total households. Additional Drivers of Retail Demand Consumer demand on Roosevelt Island is not limited to the resident population. As noted, the worker and visitor populations may present significant opportunities for capturing additional spending. However, there are several constraining factors that must be acknowledged. First, the 3,000 hospital workers – by far the largest employment sector on the island – are located at either end of the island, Goldwater Hospital at the southern end and Bird S. Coler Hospital at the northern end. The hospitals offer some convenienceand service-oriented retail on site – for example, a gift shop and cafeterias. Employees at these ends of the island do not pass by, nor do they have any particular need to set foot on Main Street. Therefore, capturing hospital worker lunch spending on Main Street, for instance, would likely require some targeted marketing outreach. Secondly, it is important to note that these long-term care hospitals primarily serve patients with chronic diseases. The volume and intensity of visitors at these types of hospitals tend to be significantly less than those hospitals focused on acute care, i.e., short-term inpatient services. As for the tourist/visitor population, it is acknowledged that most visitors and tourists prefer to walk along the promenade to enjoy the views from the Island – rather than walking up Main Street. Again, there is currently little reason or draw from Main Street to motivate them to visit Main Street’s stores. Due to the abundance of open space and active recreation space, including Sportspark, the island attracts numerous athletic teams – both youth and adult – from across the city.16 To date, very little effort has been made to attract this population to Main Street. While it is not possible to accurately quantify the spending power of this population, it is reasonable to assume that there is a significant potential to capture at least some additional spending related to post-game drinking and dining. A revived Chamber of Commerce or individual merchants should aggressively market to this population with flyers, coupons and perhaps even modest sponsorships of individual teams. Relevant “Site-Specific” Factors Generally speaking, one should assume that, given its existing relationship to the rest of New York City, Roosevelt Island is unlikely to emerge in the near future as a citywide retail destination, capable of drawing shoppers from across the river, from places like Queens or Manhattan. As a result, retail demand will be largely driven by Roosevelt Islands’ residential base, supplemented mainly by visitors and tourists, with perhaps a trickle of employees at the two hospitals.
16 These include tennis players, swimmers, baseball/softball teams, basketball teams, soccer teams, etc.

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Furthermore, one can assume that, given the limited size of the Island market and the competitive threats posed by Manhattan and the closest shopping areas in Queens, it is unlikely to emerge as a serious competitor for those “comparison” categories (i.e., clothing, shoes, sit-down restaurants, bars, etc.) in which a large selection and concentration of offerings is typically necessary – even among local residents. Realistically, given the quantity and diversity of comparison shopping opportunities a short distance away in Manhattan or Queens, a Roosevelt Island resident would almost certainly cross the river, where he or she would be able to find districts that offer not just one or two possibilities but a critical mass of options in, say, clothes shopping or entertainment venues for a night out on the town. That is unlikely to change. With this being the case, the Island’s primary retail niche is in “convenience” goods and services catering to the every-day needs of the residential base. Some additional opportunities do exist to capture some visitor/tourist dollars and also the hospital submarket (e.g., restaurants, groceries, pharmaceuticals, dry cleaning, etc.). Indeed, such categories account for an overwhelming majority of the existing businesses there now. Yet even this niche presents complications, due to the bifurcated market outlined above. Specifically, the well-educated, relatively affluent contingent might look for different merchandise mixes and store environments than the lower- and moderate-income households, thereby splitting the convenience demand into more than one type of store in the same retail category. Furthermore, whereas the low- and moderate-income households tend to reside in the WIRE buildings located along Main Street, the higher-income households, while located in Manhattan Park and to a lesser extent in Rivercross, Island House and Westview are more concentrated in the newer Octagon and Riverwalk developments which are located a little further away north and south of Main Street. Given such a distribution, the retailers which cater primarily to this sub-market are most likely to be interested in a location close to the subway and tram stations, where they can offer “pass-by convenience” to those living in Riverwalk as well as “rush-hour” convenience to the Manhattan Park/Octagon residents who are likely commuting to/from their jobs in Manhattan via one of those two transit modes. They are less likely, on the other hand, to be drawn to an opportunity in Northtown. While that might offer greater proximity to those living in Manhattan Park and Octagon Tower, Riverwalk residents have little reason to head in that direction (except, maybe, to drive to Queens via the Roosevelt Island Bridge). It is therefore not surprising that the more modern retailers, for example, Starbucks Coffee, Duane Reade and a higher-end beauty salon – have clustered at Riverwalk, while the older and arguably less competitive operators have remained on Main

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This means that Main Street not only has to contend with the Island’s overall market limitations, but also finds itself somewhat out-competed as a retail location on the Island itself. While Main Street might have been positioned as the dominant retail center on the Island, Riverwalk appears to have become the preferred destination for most prospective retail tenants – confirmed by the rent levels, estimated at $40-45/sq.ft. for Riverwalk as opposed to $15-20/sq.ft. for Main Street. Moreover, as detailed in previous analyses, Main Street’s ability to attract high-caliber operators is further compromised by the structural design of the high-rise buildings, particularly on the eastern side, where its recessed storefronts lack visibility, with the windows and interiors only viewable from a dark and somewhat depressing covered sidewalk. To make matters worse, signage appears to be over- regulated, with standardized fonts and letter sizes being too small and uniform, thus depriving tenants of an important means of communicating their retail identities. With a more traditional sidewalk/storefront arrangement, the western side of Main Street is somewhat more healthy, yet even there, the signage, visual merchandising and overall visual impression of businesses like M&D Deli & Grocery, Roosevelt Island Cleaners, Roosevelt Island Cards & Gifts and Trellis Restaurant does not project an image of a modern and dynamic retail center. These visibility and signage issues, combined with the high-rise architecture reminiscent of European urban renewal schemes, results in a rather drab and stagnant retail environment. When this is added to a difficult leasing process as well as a checkered history of business success, it serves to repel rather than attract potential new retail tenants. Competitive Analysis The competitive analysis focused on nearby business districts and shopping centers which are oriented to providing convenience goods and services, and which are typically anchored by supermarkets and/or large-format drug stores. This competitive analysis did not really incorporate competition for comparison goods, given the unlikelihood that Roosevelt Island would ever emerge as a destination for that sort of shopping. Smaller convenience store clusters that lacked at least one of those two anchors were also not considered as competition, as they are not considered to be large enough to warrant serious attention. As noted, approximately 72% of island residents who work commute to Manhattan. There is no doubt that those residents do a significant amount of their convenience shopping at drug stores, groceries and other retail establishments in Manhattan. More affluent households will also buy groceries at or have them delivered from The Food Emporium at 59th Street and First Avenue on the Manhattan side (or, by 2012, most probably also from a new Whole Foods to be located at 57th Street and Second Avenue). Alternatively, if they have access to an automobile, they might head to the relatively new Food Cellar & Co., in the Queens West development on Long Island City, or shop for food and other items at the Costco Wholesale, at Vernon Boulevard and Broadway. Alternatively, they might order from Fresh Direct, another convenient daily goods shopping option.17 For the mid-market shopper with access to an automobile, the most formidable competition to Main Street is the Broadway corridor in Astoria. The Broadway Shopping Center, at the intersection with 21st Street, is anchored by an Associated supermarket and a Rite Aid drug store, and also includes a Chase Manhattan bank. With its off-street parking lot, the strip is able to accommodate motorists.18
17 18 Food Emporium and Fresh Direct provide online grocery delivery services to Roosevelt Island. Interestingly, the very first deliveries ever made by Fresh Direct were to island households (Roosevelt Island was the “test market”). According to 2009 Claritas data, roughly 35% of island households have access to a car. Based on an analysis of car movements at the Motorgate parking garage conducted by RIOC, about 50% of cars are used on a daily basis (most likely to commute to work) and about 80% are used once per week (most likely for shopping excursions). Therefore, it can be assumed that about 1,200 households shop once a week off-island.

The Island’s primary retail niche is in “convenience” goods and services catering to the every-day needs of the residential base.

Street. Given the additional planned higher-income, market-rate residential development in Riverwalk (Buildings 7, 8 and 9), that bias is likely to grow stronger over time.

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A few blocks east, Broadway morphs into a typical outer-borough neighborhood shopping street, with a subway station, (N/W, at 31st Street), and a pedestrian orientation that draws heavy foot traffic. The focus is on convenience goods and services, with anchor stores including a C-Town supermarket, a Trade Fair and a Rite Aid drug store. Two of those — C-Town and Rite Aid — also provide off-street parking lots, enabling these businesses to also accommodate motorists. In addition, there are isolated, automobile-friendly national retailers nearby in Queens, including the Costco at Vernon Boulevard and Broadway, as well as a Staples and a Pep Boys at 21st Street and 39th Avenue. The Trade Fair also anchors a small, roughly three-block, single-loaded retail stretch of 36th Avenue heading west from 21st Street. Similarly, a small retail node is located at 34th Avenue/Crescent Street, whose tenants include a Walgreens and a Sovereign Bank branch, although it lost its Pioneer supermarket. Neither of these districts, however, offers any real off-street parking, leaving motorists with the challenge of finding much sought-after on-street spaces. As noted, the overwhelming majority of Roosevelt Island households do not have access to an automobile and must rely on mass transit for shopping trips. This leaves the mid-market shopper with few options. For example, the F train stops on the Manhattan side in areas with an up-market skew and/or relatively limited convenience offerings (e.g. Bloomingdale’s, Rockefeller Center, Herald Square). RIOC operates a “Shopper’s Bus”, which departs at 10:30 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday mornings and that takes residents to the Broadway Shopping Center, at the intersection of 21st Street and Broadway. This shopping center is also within walking distance of the Broadway business district. Once a month, the Shopper’s Bus travels to the Costco Wholesale store located at Vernon Boulevard and Broadway, although given its infrequency, this service is primarily geared towards and used by more elderly shoppers. While the “Shopper’s Bus” is an excellent service for those residents who utilize it, it clearly represents a major source of leaked spending. The RIOC should consider strategies to shift some of this spending to Main Street. One idea would be to eliminate the bus and provide coupons and other subsidies to elderly, disabled and low-income residents to encourage Main Street spending. In addition, the Q102 bus line provides direct access only to Janet Cole Plaza, in the middle of the Queensbridge Houses, on 41st Avenue between 10th and 12th Streets, which has just a small Associated anchor, as well as a number of vacancies. (The Q102 also stops at the Broadway business district, at 31st Street, although it arrives there via a rather lengthy and circuitous route). The other freestanding retailers along 21st Street, the Trade Fair-anchored stretch at 36th Avenue and the small node at 34th Street/Crescent Street, are not directly accessible via mass transit. In terms of restaurants and bars, not only does Roosevelt Island have to contend with the countless possibilities in Manhattan, but the Queens side also offers a number of somewhat up-market offerings, including a sizeable cluster on Broadway in Astoria (e.g. Sac’s, Linn, Sanford, Broadway Station, etc). Sales Leakage and Tenant Possibilities Not surprisingly, given the proximity and accessibility of competitive shopping in both Manhattan and Queens, Roosevelt Island leaks an enormous amount of retail spending. With resident expenditures aggregating to $151,135,243 and merchant sales totaling $17,627,860, the net outflow of retail expenditures from Island residents is $133,507,383, or 88%.19 Furthermore, there is leakage in virtually every retail category. While the full 88% of leaked sales could not be recaptured, nevertheless there are several niches in the retail market which could be recaptured by new retailers on Main Street.
19 Claritas Retail Opportunity Data. Claritas data is derived from two major sources of information. The demand data is derived from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE Survey) which is fielded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The supply data is derived from the Census of Retail Trade (CRT), which is made available by the U.S. Census.

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Comparison Retail As discussed before, the Island is unlikely to become a comparison-shopping destination, since such retailers – clothing stores and shoe stores, for example – tend to prefer locations within already-existing clusters of similar stores. The population on the Island is too small to support the emergence of a significant comparison shopping cluster. However, there are two possible convenience retail categories which could be supported by residents, as detailed below. 1. Home Furnishings The one possible comparison retail niche that could be filled on Main Street is home furnishings, especially given the Island’s dramatic residential growth since 2000 and going forward. There is already $3,842,910 of leakage in this category. While such merchants are likely to prefer a location in the area of Bloomingdale’s on the Manhattan side which boasts a slew of furniture retailers, a small “pop-up” store in this category may be worth pursuing in order to test the viability of such an establishment on Main Street.20 2. Sit-down Dining The one other “comparison” category of note that Main Street has the ability to recapture is sit-down dining. Currently the magnitude of leakage in this category is enormous – $6,538,461. Restaurants, of course, are often capable of drawing diners to “off-the-radar” locations. Given the marketing challenges, it, may be difficult to imagine a noteworthy upscale restaurant materializing on Main Street, unless, say, a celebrity restaurateur is already a resident. For this reason, neighborhood-oriented restaurants and bars are more promising targets. In addition to Trellis, Fuji East arrived in 2008, and 2009 will see the opening of Riverwalk Bar & Grill. Neither of these are likely to draw customers from beyond the Island, but this may not be necessary for them to be successful. Given the high demand and convenience it offers to residents, it would rely upon its proximity to Island residents, who would frequent them based upon more impulsive, last-minute restaurant dining rather than a more premeditated night out on-the-town. Having said that, there would still seem to be a need, given the sensibilities and psycho-graphics of the resident base to project a younger and more hip image in restaurant and dining options to cater to the younger, more contemporary, even stylish sensibility of a large proportion of the Island’s residents. Convenience Retail In terms of convenience goods and services, the Island currently leaks 86% of its grocery expenditures, translating to $16,534,908 in sales. Generally speaking, a centrally-located business district should be able to capture 70% of the total expenditure in this category, and arguably even higher in a neighborhood with such low levels of automobile ownership. Using this as a guide, the Island should at least be able to support another smaller-format convenience retail or food store. Given the constraints with market size and available real estate, the best hope would likely be some sort of green grocer, which could potentially be accommodated by one of the smaller available retail spaces on Main Street. Gristedes is the only supermarket on Roosevelt Island and the most frequently visited retailer on Main Street.21 At the same time, in a survey of residents, Gristedes received more negative survey comments about its appearance, service and merchandising than any other retailer on the Island. In fact, when asked about the worst things on Roosevelt Island, 10% of residents specifically
20 21 A “pop-up store” is a temporary retail installation. Typically, retailers utilize this approach to establish a brand presence in a highly trafficked location, explore a highly specific retail concept, highlight a specific product or test a new market. Survey of Roosevelt Island residents.

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identified Gristedes, whereas most other answers were more general in nature (e.g., “limited goods and services,” “limited access to Manhattan,” etc.). Clearly, Roosevelt Island residents have a negative attitude towards Gristedes, but at the same time, because of convenience and a lack of alternative convenience shopping, as many as 37% of residents shop there at least once a week. To complicate matters, Gristedes’ lease includes a 1,900-foot ring-of-exclusivity within which certain restrictive covenants apply to the size and types of grocery and food stores that would be permitted. As a result, the RIOC is limited by what types of stores it could bring to Main Street. Given that the market analysis indicates there is significant gap on Main Street for additional grocery and specialty food stores, the question is what do the restrictive covenants of the Gristedes lease preclude, or rather, what food stores, both in terms of type and make-up, are not precluded by the lease? The Gristedes Lease A careful reading of the lease’s restrictive covenants (at Article 43) makes it clear that no other supermarkets, defined as “a retail establishment 3,500 square feet or more which uses its premises primarily for the retail display and sale of food products and, secondly, other merchandise customarily sold in supermarkets in the City of New York,” is permitted on Roosevelt Island, (other than in the area of the Island known as South Town)*. Thus it is clear that any store which primarily sells food and is over 3,500 square feet in size would be precluded on Main Street. Beyond the exclusion of supermarkets, the restrictive covenants cover other type of food stores that may be located within a 1,900 feet radius of the Gristedes premises. Stores which devote more than 600 square feet of space, or more than 30% of its sales area, or which receive 15% or more of its annual revenues, from the sale of fresh foods (i.e. uncooked fruit, vegetables and meat) from self-service display cabinets, and discounted milk, beer and soda, are precluded within this 1,900 foot radius. In addition to this restrictive covenant, is a further covenant that would appear to overlap with, but would be less restrictive than the above covenant, which is as follows: a food store which has more than 33.3% of its sales area, or derives more than 33.3% of its annual sales from these same food items (fresh foods, discounted milk, beer and soda.) are also precluded from locating within the 1,900 feet radius. Finally, the restrictive covenants make it clear that the restrictions would not apply to stores which sell kosher food (“in accordance with rabbinical law”). Convenience Retailers That Are Possible The question is therefore, what types of stores which primarily sell food, but which are less than 3,500 square feet, are permitted to be located within the 1,900 feet radius of the Gristedes store on Main Street?

* Even in South Town, Gristedes would have the right of first refusal on a lease for a supermarket.

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First, if a store sells fresh food – fruit, vegetables, and/or meat - that is not contained within or sold from a self service display cabinet, it is not precluded from being located within 1,900 feet of Gristedes. This would appear to provide a fairly significant opportunity, but beyond supermarkets, even most smaller grocery stores and specialty food stores today do sell mostly from self service display cabinets – irrespective of whether the fresh food is unpackaged or pre-packaged. Only stores in which such fresh foods are dispensed by store employees as opposed to self-service, would be permitted. There still may be a few types of retail food establishments, such as some specialty butchers, who operate under such conditions, but even most specialty meat stores do have a number of self service cabinets with pre-packaged goods from which customers can help themselves, rather than be helped by a store employee. Other examples of retailers in this category would include Cosi and Pax, which may be described as “sandwich and salad bars,” and various fast-food establishments. Secondly, it would appear that the restrictions both in terms of store area and annual revenues would not apply to full price milk, beer and soda. However, the term “discounted” is not defined in the lease, and therefore is subject to interpretation. By industry standards, the very sale of milk, beer and soda by a supermarket may be characterized as “discounted,” even if it turns out that the actual sale prices are no different than the price at a liquor store, or deli or another type of specialized retail store which sells the same items. However, it may be possible that where a retail store clearly sells these items at full prices, like a drug store, or a deli, or a convenience store, that the calculation of such area and revenues could be excluded from the calculations subject to the restrictive covenant because such prices are typically full price as opposed to “discounted.” Third, kosher food items are clearly permitted and not precluded by the Gristedes restrictive covenants. Probably the most pertinent questions relate to retail stores which do sell either or both fresh food from self service cabinets, and/or milk, beer and soda. Also, what potentially could be characterized as at “discounted prices”? Which of these types of retail stores can be located on Main Street within 1,900 feet of Gristedes? Using the more conservative of the two restrictive covenants (the 600 square feet or 30% of sales area restriction and the 15% or greater annual sales restriction), the following are the types of retail food store that may be possible on Main Street. A food store of 2,000 square feet could devote up to 600 square feet of its space to fresh foods sold from self service display cabinets and discounted milk, beer and soda, provided annual sales of these items accounted for less the 15% of its total revenues. The same type of food store, of only 1,000 square feet in size could only devote 300 square feet of space to such items, and again sales revenues from these same items could not exceed 15% of annual sales. A food store of 3,499 square feet – the maximum size possible under the “competitive supermarket ” restrictive covenant cited earlier - would also be restricted to 600 square feet (or only ±17%) of its space. To relate these provisions in more practical terms, we can review a few different and more concrete examples of the types of food stores that would be permitted on Main Street within 1900 feet of Gristedes. 1. Certain type of food stores such as a delicatessen, a convenience store, a drug store, etc. that sells primarily food. However, only small amounts of fresh food and milk, beer and soda could be located within this area, because in most cases the fresh foods sold from self service display cabinets and discounted milk, beer and soda would account for less then 600 space or 30% of the store area, and also would account for less than 15% of the store’s revenues. (The lease would obviously require this to be the case.) A specialty food store, where merchandise is limited to primarily one or two types of categories that are not within the “fresh food” or discounted category (i.e. discounted milk, beer and soda) would also be permitted. Examples include a specialty cheese shop, a specialty seafood store, a bakery, a confectioner, etc, all of which might sell the restricted items such as soda, milk or even some fresh fruit, vegetables or meat as well, but in such small quantities as to most likely fall outside the parameters of the Gristedes restrictive covenants.

2.

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3.

As indicated above, a green grocer or a butcher that sells or dispenses the food items primarily through store employee service rather than through self service display cabinets, would also be permitted. Likewise, a liquor store, either whose beer is not “discounted”, or whose sales area devoted to beer is within the area and revenue parameters of the restrictive covenant, would also not be precluded. Additionally, a store or premises of less than 3,500 square feet, but made up of multiple tenants which sells fresh food via employee service, or which incorporates a substantial area devoted to primarily prepared foods and full price milk and soda, such as a farmers market, would also be likely to fall outside these restrictions.

4.

5.

Conclusions New retail tenants on Main Street should meet the following criteria: Retail that fills a “gap” in the market. Retail desired by residents (according to survey data). Retail permitted by the Gristedes lease.

Based on the above, the following types of retail would be appropriate for Main Street:22 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Green Grocer Ice Cream Shop Specialty Cheese Shop Seafood Store Bakery Pizzeria Florist Restaurant Butcher Home furnishings store.

It is highly unlikely that every storefront on Main Street will be occupied by a retail tenant. As noted, there is a mismatch between the amount of commercial space on Main Street and the amount of retail that can be supported by island residents. One final note: RIOC is provided with the necessary “legal ammunition” to ensure that certain products and services be made available at Gristedes, and that the store provides a level of service commensurate with other supermarkets of its type.23 If Gristedes fails to live up to these standards, the RIOC would be permitted to bring other tenants within the 1,900 feet radius to provide such products and services. Per section 43.04, entitled “Certain Products and Services” of the Gristedes lease, in light of the non-competitive restrictive covenants that are contained within the lease, the RIOC has the right to demand that Gristedes “implement changes and additions proposed by the Landlord (RIOC) for the availability or improvement of certain products or services to be sold or offered” by Gristedes. If Gristedes fails to comply with these demands, “the restrictive covenants under the lease shall not be applicable and Landlord may permit other tenants who will agree to make such specific products or services available, but limited to those specific items only.” This provision provides RIOC with some leverage in demanding that Gristedes provides additional services or products, or make such other improvements that help to maintain a “viable community” and a balanced and diversified offering of retail products and services. If Gristedes fails to do so, then the RIOC would be permitted to bring in other tenants to Main Street who are capable of filling such gaps, or meeting the standard of maintaining a “viable community” on Roosevelt Island.

22 23

Provided these types of stores can operate within the parameters of the restrictive covenants of the Gristedes lease, as discussed above. Specifically, the Gristedes located in downtown Scarsdale.

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VIII. Recommendations
A. Create a public/private partnership to lease and/or help manage Main Street.
The RIOC does not have the administrative or professional capacity to create a successful retail environment on Main Street. This is due in large part to the extensive RFP process which is required pursuant to the RIOC’s status as a public authority. The RIOC should follow the example provided by other public authorities in New York which have dealt with this same issue by engaging retail professionals in the private sector. Private involvement in Main Street could utilize one of the three following basic approaches: 1. The Master Leaseholder (the JFK Model): Under this arrangement, the RIOC would solicit proposals, as it did in 2005, for a private takeover of all or some Main Street retail storefronts. Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy airport is an example of such an approach. In 1997, the Port Authority of New York executed a 25 year lease with Schipol USA and LCOR Incorporated for all retail spaces in the terminal. Schipol/LCOR sub-leases each space and manages the overall retail environment. The Retail Manager/Consultant (the Grand Central Model): This model would allow the RIOC to maintain control over Main Street, but the leasing process and management of the tenants would be handled by a private consultant(s). The tenanting of individual spaces, storefront design guidelines and maintenance standards would be based on an overall retail master plan developed by the RIOC. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s partnership with Jones Lang LaSalle and William Jackson Ewing is a good example of this arrangement. This example is highlighted on the following page. The Hybrid Model: This model, which represents a combination of the first two approaches, would be based on a Retail Master Plan created by the RIOC. The Retail Master Plan would identify specific categories of retail that make sense from both a market and community viewpoint and, where possible, identify the potential locations of each. RIOC would then

2.

3.

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Grand Central Terminal: How a Public Authority Achieves Retail Success Like Roosevelt Island, Grand Central Terminal is operated by a public authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). From a market perspective, Roosevelt Island, a mixed-income residential community, and Grand Central Terminal, a major transportation hub in a premier Midtown Manhattan location, share few similarities. However, an examination of the retail management tools and processes employed by the MTA at Grand Central is instructive. It demonstrates how a public authority can leverage its planning powers to transform a dark, dingy and distressed retail environment into an economically productive, well-designed and lively gathering place. The MTA functions as the landlord at Grand Central. However, following a major restoration/redevelopment initiative in the early 1990s, the MTA retained experienced retail professionals – specifically a retail management firm (Jones Lang LaSalle) and a leasing agent (Williams Jackson Ewing) – to manage a detail-oriented leasing program in accordance with its overall retail vision. A review of a recent RFP for retail space in the Terminal illustrates the rigorous selection and evaluation process that the MTA utilizes in order to curate the entire retail experience.24 For instance, in addition to a proposed rent, each respondent must submit a written description of the proposed store layout and floor/window displays, a summary of its retail business experience, the financial qualifications and various details about the store concept and marketing. Furthermore, each RFP is very clear about the specific type of retail (e.g., “retail sale of whole coffee beans,” “non-national bakery,” etc.) envisioned for each space. These provisions are perhaps the most instructive portion of the Grand Central leasing model, as it illustrates the importance of establishing a retail plan with detailed specifications for which types of retail are most desirable – and the specific locations for each. Overall, the results have been a tremendous upgrade in merchandising, aesthetics and service. In conclusion, the retail operation at Grand Central shows the importance of: (1) establishing a retail master plan that delineates the types and locations for retail tenants; (2) the value of retaining experienced professional retail consultants; and (3) the level of attention to detail that is necessary to create a successful and synergistic retail environment. In this sense, the Grand Central leasing program is a model for how the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation could utilize its authority to attract neighborhood-serving retail establishments and make Main Street the true Town Center of the island.

solicit proposals for a master leaseholder. The master lease agreement would contain stipulations about specific types of tenants and locations are available based on the RIOC Retail Master Plan. The RIOC has articulated a desire to continue to maintain some control over the tenanting and management of Main Street. As such, the Grand Central model really makes the most sense. The problem, however, would be the costs associated with retaining qualified private consultants. If retaining a consultant is not economically feasible, the RIOC should consider the feasibility of pursuing the Hybrid Model. This would allow the RIOC to identify several specific uses that are: (1) desired by residents; and (2) viable based on the market analysis in this report, and negotiate a master lease agreement with stipulations that the master leaseholder must pursue tenants in those categories. Conducting a transparent RFP process, including an independent appraisal of each space, for the overall management of Main Street would fulfill the requirements of the Public Authorities Act by securing a fair market value for the master lease. The private firm would then be allowed to sub-lease the spaces, as long as the tenants met the stipulations of the RIOC Retail Master Plan. An alternative to engaging the private sector firms would be to hire a seasoned and highly-qualified real estate professional as a fulltime employee of the RIOC. This person would be charged with overseeing the implementation of the Retail Master Plan, including the RFP leasing process, tenant relations, design standards and overall retail management. Regardless of which public/private approach is chosen, the RIOC should adopt a retail plan. The following is an example of a relocation scenario: • Bar/restaurant or bakery at 503 Main Street, which is currently vacant. (2,030 sq. ft.) • Food establishment(s) at 513/507 Main Street, which is currently occupied by RIOC Engineering and a chiropractor. (1,728 sq ft.)
24 Request for Proposals, Grand Central Terminal – Spaces MC-15, MC-30, MKT-23, and LC-43A, issued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, January 7, 2009.

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• • • • • • •

Green grocer in 526 Main Street, which is currently occupied by the library. (2,322 sq. ft.) Food establishments in 530-532 Main Street, which are currently vacant. (2,208 sq. ft.) Florist in 544b Main Street, which is currently vacant. (686 sq. ft.) Bookstore in 559 Main Street, which is currently occupied by Orphans International. (568 sq. ft.) Fitness/wellness studio in 568 Main Street. (505 sq. ft.) Restaurant/café in 591 Main Street, which is currently occupied by the RIOC offices. (1,780 sq. ft.) Clothing or housewares store in 615 Main Street, which is currently occupied by the Boy Scouts. (776 sq. ft.)

B. Pursue specific streetscape interventions and create design guidelines for Main Street retailers
It would be difficult to overemphasize the relationship between improvements in the overall aesthetics of Main Street and the success of its retail. Design-related recommendations include the following: • • • • • • Create – and enforce – design and maintenance guidelines for all Main Street retail tenants Remove the glass panels from the arcade along the east side of Main Street. The panels are too difficult to keep clean and negatively impact the visibility of the storefronts. Install additional lighting and retrofit existing lighting within the arcade. Repaint exterior facades to enliven the gloomy feel of the existing storefronts. Install public art in the larger spaces within the arcade. Install projecting signs on the exterior of each storefront. Signage fixtures could be uniform but logo, font, color and size should be varied.

Also, it is unlikely that vacant storefronts will ever be completely eliminated from Main Street. The installation of temporary art galleries in the storefront windows would be the best and least costly option to maintain a pleasant and attractive environment on Main Street. This strategy is being utilized by many communities, especially now during the economic downturn. A Merchants Fund which could supply matching storefront improvement grants of around $1,000 or using a single month’s rent towards storefront improvements represent two possible implementation approaches for this recommendation.

C. Revive the Roosevelt Island Chamber of Commerce to be the steward of Main Street success
Roosevelt Island’s Chamber of Commerce has been more or less inactive for several years. This report recommends reviving the Chamber in order to: (1) allow Main Street merchants to become a driving force for improvements; and (2) to initiate and oversee important new Main Street initiatives involving local youth and residents. The Chamber would work closely with – and perhaps with the financial support of – the public/private partnership entity, with respect to the following activities: • • • Initiate a “Support Main Street” marketing campaign. Create an “artist-in-residence” program to install exhibits and arts activities in the vacant storefronts. Encourage tenants to provide outstanding, free delivery service – Employ Island teenagers to deliver groceries; to deliver takeout food to both residents and employees/patients at the two hospitals on Main Street – Encourage a new florist to deliver flowers to the hospitals; and to the extent successful, set up a concession at the hospitals Encourage customer loyalty through innovative programs, such as – Punch cards with discounts for frequent purchasers – Roosevelt Island dollars – similar to “Green stamps”

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– Special promotions for hospital workers (e.g., 10% discounts at certain stores or for certain services) Encourage Island’s youth population to do community service projects which physically improve or clean up Main Street (e.g., painting; replanting, etc).

D. Re-organize existing non-profit uses to maximize available marketable space, and cluster appropriate non-profits into space more suitable to function.
The relocation of several non-profit organizations from prime retail spaces on Main Street to less visible but nonetheless suitable spaces would help set the stage for an improved retail environment on Main Street. Additionally, as in other successful Main Street environments, it is important to enhance the presence of civic uses, such as the church, bank, library and post office. This report offers the following relocation/reorganization scenario (see Figure 8): • • • • • • Move RIOC offices from 591 Main Street to 504 Main Street, which is currently vacant. Move the Library from 526 Main Street to 504 Main Street. Cluster the Boy Scouts, Orphans International and Batting Cage at 506 Main Street. The Thrift Store should be cleaned up and vastly reduced in size. Put retail tenants in the former Batting Cage space at 521 Main Street. Place food establishments in 507-513 Main Street, which are currently occupied by the RIOC Engineering Department and by a chiropractor.

E. Make Good Shepherd Plaza the “town square” of Roosevelt Island.
The plaza area around the Church of the Good Shepherd is arguably the finest public space on Roosevelt Island. From an aesthetic viewpoint, it provides a unique historic (i.e., pre-General Development Plan) intervention in the 1970s era streetscape. There is a clear opportunity to create a lively gathering place in this space. The Island’s open spaces and parks provide the venues for most major events, but the church plaza should be the most often utilized option where possible, as opposed to other public spaces. Programming such activities in the plaza would encourage more spending and activity on Main Street. This report recommends the following steps in order to achieve this vision: • • • • • Move the Farmer’s Market to Good Shepherd Church plaza (or the Blackwell Park plaza if truck parking and noise issues are problematic in the church plaza). Incorporate an outdoor dining venue in the plaza. This could be a temporary kitchen or dedicated outdoor seating for all Island restaurants from which diners could have their food delivered. Hold summer evening live music and/or theater activities in the plaza. Improve existing seating and add additional seating. Install an information kiosk in the plaza.

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Figure 8: Reorganizing Scenario
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F. Create a “Gateway to Main Street” at the southern entrance point to Main Street.
The southern end of Main Street is currently lacking in activity, primarily due to a concentration of vacant or moribund storefronts. As a result, residents from the new Riverwalk complex and tourists/visitors are dissuaded from setting foot on Main Street. To reverse this situation, this report recommends the creation of a hub of activity – or “gateway” – at its southern entrance point. This will require a focus on securing new retail tenants, establishing a strong civic presence, and installing attractive and welcoming signage to brand Main Street as the “town center” of the Island. The following uses would be established at the gateway: • In addition to the existing RIVAA Gallery and hair salon, the west side of Main Street would contain (starting at the south end moving north) a sit-down dining establishment, two specialty food purveyors and, if additional space is available, artist studios. The relocated library would anchor the gateway to Main Street on the east side. The RIOC offices would move to the second floor of the building, above the library.

A large “Welcome to Main Street”-type sign should be installed at the gateway. This would be supplemented by a few signs positioned close to the subway station/Riverwalk to encourage visitors, tourists and even Riverwalk residents to explore Main Street. The adaptive reuse of the Blackwell House, one of the oldest and most significant historic resources on Roosevelt Island, could bring additional activity to the open space area surrounding the gateway.

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IX. Conclusion
The foregoing report has revealed significant potential on Main Street for more convenience shopping – particularly in the grocery and specialty food categories. However, the solution to the Main Street problem is not just a matter of adding more retail. In fact, additional retail is probably not warranted unless Roosevelt Island – its residents, elected officials and merchants – addresses four major obstacles: • • • • A negative perception of Main Street An unattractive and unclean physical environment Little reason for workers, visitors and tourists to explore Main Street Lack of administrative and professional capacity at the RIOC to manage the Main Street leasing process.

This report has set forth strategies to address each of these issues. Basically, it recommends six major interrelated intervention strategies to set a new life for Main Street in motion: • • • • • • Create a public/private partnership to lease and help manage Main Street. Pursue specific streetscape interventions and create design and maintenance guidelines for Main Street retailers. Revive the Roosevelt Island Chamber of Commerce to be the steward of Main Street’s revitalization. Relocate existing non-profit uses to maximize available marketable space, and cluster non-profits appropriately into space more suitable to their function. Make Good Shepherd Plaza the “town square” of Roosevelt Island. Create a “Gateway to Main Street” at the southern entrance to Main Street.

As Roosevelt Island approaches its 40th anniversary, it is an opportune moment to usher in a spirit of renewal on Main Street and finally develop the excitingly urban and authentic central gathering place envisioned in the General Development Plan.

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Appendix
Description of U.S. Census Bureau Employment Sectors The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. Roosevelt Island businesses employ people in the following sectors: Health Care and Social Assistance: includes Ambulatory Health Care Services, Offices of Physicians, Offices of Dentists, Offices of Other Health Practitioners, Outpatient Care Centers, Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories, Home Health Care Services, Other Ambulatory Health Care Services, Hospitals Nursing and Residential Care Facilities and Social Assistance. Administration & Support, Waste: includes Office Administrative Services, Facilities Support Services, Employment Services, Business Support Services, Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services, Investigation and Security Services, Services to Buildings and Dwellings, Other Support Services and Waste Management and Remediation Services. Real Estate & Rental and Leasing: includes Offices of Real Estate Agents and Brokers, Activities Related to Real Estate, Rental and Leasing Services, Consumer Goods Rental, Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment Rental and Leasing, and Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets (except Copyrighted Works). Arts, Entertainment and Recreation: includes Performing Arts, Spectator Sports, and Related Industries, Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events, Agents and Managers for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures, Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions, Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation Industries and Other Amusement and Recreation Industries.

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Professional, Scientific and Technical Services: includes Legal Services, Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services, Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services, Specialized Design Services, Computer Systems Design and Related Services, Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services, Scientific Research and Development Services, Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services and Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. Retail Trade: includes Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers, Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores, Electronics and Appliance Stores, Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers, Food and Beverage Stores, Health and Personal Care Stores, Gasoline Stations, Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores, Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores, General Merchandise Stores, Miscellaneous Store Retailers and Nonstore Retailers. Description of Claritas, Inc. PRIZM NE Psychographic Segments Claritas, Inc. PRIZM NE data was used to approximate the psychographic profile for the primary trade area and for those within a 10 minute drive of the development site. This proprietary system uses demographic data and information about consumers’ product purchases, lifestyles, and media interests to classify households into 66 demographically and behaviorally distinct segments. These are ascribed semi-humorous but quite descriptive monikers to portray a flavor of each segment’s lifestyle, hence shopping, preferences. Young Digerati are tech-savvy and live in fashionable neighborhoods on the urban fringe. Affluent, highly educated, and ethnically mixed, Young Digerati communities are typically filled with trendy apartments and condos, fitness clubs and clothing boutiques, casual restaurants and all types of bars—from juice to coffee to microbrew. Among the lifestyle traits ascribed to this group are the following: • Shop at Banana Republic • Go snowboarding • Read Elle Décor • Watch Independent Film Channel • Toyota Prius A collection of mobile urbanites, Bohemian Mix represents the nation’s most liberal lifestyles. Its residents are an ethnically diverse, progressive mix of young singles, couples, and families ranging from students to professionals. In their funky rowhouses and apartments, Bohemian Mixers are the early adopters who are quick to check out the latest movie, nightclub, laptop, and microbrew. Among the lifestyle traits ascribed to this group are the following: • Eat at Au Bon Pain • Buy Spanish/Latin music • Read The Economist • Watch soccer • Audi A4 Once known as the home of the nation’s yuppies, Young Influentials reflects the fading glow of acquisitive yuppiedom. Today, the segment is a common address for younger, middle-class singles and couples who are more preoccupied with balancing work and leisure pursuits. Having recently left college dorms, they now live in apartment complexes surrounded by ball fields, health clubs, and casual-dining restaurants. Among the lifestyle traits ascribed to this group are the following: • Shop at Express • Buy rap music • Read Vibe • Watch Family Guy • Mazda 3

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Concentrated in the nation’s port cities, Urban Achievers is often the first stop for up-and-coming immigrants from Asia, South America, and Europe. These young singles, couples, and families are typically college-educated and ethnically diverse: about a third are foreign-born, and even more speak a language other than English. Among the lifestyle traits ascribed to this group are the following: • Shop at Rite-Aid • Download music from web • Read Latina • Watch BET • Toyota Yaris American Dreams is a living example of how ethnically diverse the nation has become: more than half the residents are Hispanic, Asian or African-American. In these multilingual neighborhoods–one in ten speaks a language other than English–middle-aged immigrants and their children live in middle-class comfort. Among the lifestyle traits ascribed to this upper-middle income group are the following: • Shop at Old Navy • Buy motivational tapes • Read Black Enterprise • Watch Telefutura • Toyota Scion The residents of Money & Brains seem to have it all: high incomes, advanced degrees, and sophisticated tastes to match their credentials. Many of these city dwellers are married couples with few children who live in fashionable homes on small, manicured lots. Among the lifestyle traits ascribed to this upper-middle income group are the following: • Shop at Nordstrom • Contribute to NPR • Read Sunday newspaper • Watch Wall Street Week • Mercedes Benz E-class

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For additional information contact: Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, Inc. 434 Sixth Avenue, Floor 5 New York, NY 10110 P: 212/475-3030

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