Danny Meyer comes to Battery Park City

BY Michael Mandelkern

Some Battery Park City residents dread having to walk to nearby Tribeca due to a lack of dining options in their own neighborhood. But next year, thanks in part to restaurateur Danny Meyer, they may not feel as compelled to cross West Street every time their stomach growls.

Goldman Sachs, owner of 102 North End Avenue, which includes an Embassy Suites hotel and the Regal Battery Park 11 movie theater, presented new plans for the site to Community Board 1’s Battery Park City committee last Wednesday. Meyer was on hand to discuss his role in the venture: three new restaurants for the burgeoning neighborhood.

Two of the restaurants, Shake Shack and Blue Smoke, will be familiar to city residents. But an all-new dining option is also in the mix.

“We are really creating something from scratch,” said Meyer about the new eatery. “It will be something that will feel very much at home.”

Meyer said he hopes to attract “the most diverse clientele” in terms of age, race and socioeconomic status.

And with the new restaurants comes the departure of two other businesses. According to Dino Fusco, a Goldman Sachs managing director, the DSW Shoe Warehouse sold the lease for its massive 30,000 square foot space back to Goldman Sachs earlier this year. The shoe store will step out no later than August 30.

Jeff Galloway, co-chair of the committee, also lamented the loss of the 10,000 square foot New York Sports Club earlier this summer, also located at 102 North End.

“It was really the only full service [workout] facility in Battery Park City,” he said.

He also questioned the business success of the building’s movie theater. Fusco, however, spoke optimistically of its future and said the new additions should have a positive impact.

“We are creating a reason for people to come and stay. That’s what makes a movie theater better,” he said. “It [the whole site] has a rich mix of uses to become a commercial hub.”

The N.Y.S.C. space will be converted to house two fast food restaurants and the shoe store will be used for hotel space. Two weeks ago, Hilton Hotels Inc. announced it would replace the Embassy Suites with a new Conrad Hotel.

“We’re thrilled to bring a new Conrad Hotel to Battery Park City,” said Mark Ricci, director of corporate communications at Hilton. “Conrad is all about personal attention.”

It will be the fifth extension of Conrad Hotels in the United States and the first in New York. The hotel’s second floor will include an atrium, restaurant, some retail and a ballroom and conference center. There will be an additional conference space on the fourth floor as well.

“It’s quite comprehensive,” said Fusco. “Everything [will be] open to the public.”

The new hotel will install Lightstay, a proprietary system that manages energy consumption, to “reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint,” said Ricci. The hotel is also expected to install a green roof.

As far as rates, the hotel has yet to determine pricing.

Committee Chair Linda Belfer expressed concerned that an expanded ballroom, where weddings and other big events may be held, would “exponentially increase traffic.” She further suggested that Goldman Sachs conduct a traffic analysis of the area to avoid “a possible additional problem in the neighborhood.”

Fusco insisted that lax double-parking regulations are to blame for parking congestion, and said he did not foresee significant changes in the traffic.

Brookfield Properties, which owns the World Financial Center, has been briefed on Goldman Sachs’ redevelopment plans. There will also be an additional 5,000 square feet of retail space at 200 West Street, Goldman Sachs’ global headquarters. Some possibilities are a flower shop, dessert spot, wine store and optometry store.