Tapioca lovers, get out your oversized straws.
On June 13, in its first public meeting of 2017, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s Real Estate Committee announced the signing of a new retail lease holder, and updated the status on several others.
The short version? New restaurants and cafés are coming – just not anytime soon.
The former Main Street Sweets will become a bubble tea shop
Alexandra Kaplan, Associate Project Manager for Hudson Related, the firm charged with managing retail leases along Main Street, says the firm has signed a lease with a bubble tea café for 559 Main Street, the spot formerly occupied by Coach Scot’s ice cream store.
“In less than a year [after Coach Scot’s store closing], we’ve been able to sign a new lease. So I think that’s really phenomenal,” said Kaplan. In addition to offering bubble tea, a sweet drink that contains chewy tapioca balls, the café will also offer desserts. No cooking will be done on the premises. “Bubble tea has quite a following,” Kaplan told committee members. “Kids love it. College students love it. It makes sense for the space.”
Work on the interior began this week.
Kaplan says the new lease speaks to Hudson Related’s strategy for filling the Island’s empty storefronts more quickly. “I think one of the things that really made this transaction move quicker is it was a ready-to-go space.” She says the firm is working to make all of the spaces as ready as possible, including installing lighting in the right places, hooking up utilities, and bringing the spaces up to code...“So potential clients can walk in and see the vision of what the space can become, instead of seeing a daunting amount of work. When a space is ready to move in, it gets a lot more attention.”
In 2011, RIOC selected the Hudson Companies and Related Companies to manage the 33 retail spaces – a total of 100,000 square feet of leasable space – on Main Street and stimulate retail development. They brought in new stores, including a Subway sandwich shop in October 2012, Main Street Sweets in November 2012, Wholesome Market in May 2013, and Island Wines & Spirits in October 2014.
Mexican Restaurant and Café
In other dining news, the initial plan that Onda, the new Mexican Restaurant slated for 548 Main Street, would open sometime this summer was overly optimistic.
According to Kaplan, both Onda and a new café and juice bar planned for 503 Main Street, are only now wrapping up the design phase of construction and starting the filing process.
“The design is done. Now it just depends on how long it takes the Department of Buildings to approve the plans,” she told committee members. “It’s hard for me to estimate when they will open until they start work and we can see how that moves along. But it won’t be this summer.”
More to Come?
Even with the new arrivals, there are many vacant storefronts along the Main Street corridor – some have not had a tenant in years.
Kaplan says Hudson Related hopes to have more good news soon. The company is in negotiations with Owen and Bridget Johnson for a lease at 507 Main Street, where the Paul Calendrillo gallery recently stood. The WIRE previously reported that the Music Together instructors plan to turn the space into a music classroom and play space for kids. (The gallery is currently looking for a new home on the Island.)
The empty space at 568 Main Street, another ready-to-go space (next to the Roosevelt Nails salon), which was briefly occupied by
daycare center CDM Kids, has also been getting some interest, according to Kaplan.
Asked whether she’d seen interest or foot traffic picking up lately, Kaplan said not really, but that she hopes that Main Street retail will have more momentum once the Cornell Tech campus opens this summer.