Goldman Sachs Causes Shake Up of Battery Park City Businesses
By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — When Goldman Sachs moves in, cheap restaurant chains and gyms move out.
That’s the message Goldman appears to be sending in Battery Park City, where the international bank opened its new headquarters last year.
In addition to building its new 43-story tower, Goldman also scooped up an existing 15-story building next-door, which housed the Embassy Suites hotel, a New York Sports Club gym, a movie theater, a DSW shoe store and a handful of restaurants.
Several of those businesses are already gone, and nearly all of them are expected to close eventually, as Goldman launches a top-to-bottom renovation of the building at 102 North End Ave.
Few residents say they miss the chain restaurants that have closed, like Applebee’s and Chevy’s, but many are upset over the shuttering of the New York Sports Club gym, which closed its doors for good on Wednesday.
“It sucks,” said Karen Matthews, 34, who works nearby in Battery Park City and was heading into the gym on Wednesday afternoon. “I usually work out on my lunch hour, but I won’t be able to do that anymore.”
Steve Ryan, 45, a Battery Park City resident, said earlier this month that he doesn’t know where he’ll go once the gym closes.
“It’s the best one in the area,” Ryan said as he walked into the gym. “There’s no replacement.”
A Goldman spokeswoman said it was New York Sports Club that asked to terminate its lease in the building, but a source familiar with the negotiations said Goldman had demanded that the gym agree to vacate the space in the future with little notice. And a gym member told DNAinfo that a manager told her the club was successful and did not want to leave.
A spokeswoman for New York Sports Club declined to comment.
So far, Goldman is keeping quiet on the building’s future, but the first concrete detail emerged Wednesday when Hilton announced that the Embassy Suites hotel, which anchors the building, would close at the end of the year so a luxury hotel can replace it.
The Hilton chain is converting the 463-room Embassy Suites into New York’s first branch of the high-end Conrad brand, whose motto is “The Luxury of Being Yourself.”
The new hotel, called Conrad New York, is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2011 with the same number of rooms but more upscale designs and dining options, plus a 6,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, a Hilton spokesman said.
In the meantime, more of the ground-floor businesses are likely to close — Pizza Bolla is on its way out, a manager said — but Goldman has promised to keep the Regal Battery Park movie theater open, as residents requested.
The DSW shoe store, another favorite among residents, will also stay open, a manager said, though Goldman did not confirm that.
Neither Hilton nor Goldman have said how they will fill the vacant retail spaces, but Shake Shack and Adrienne’s Pizza reporteldy may be interested.
Linda Belfer, chairwoman of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee, said she wants to ensure the new establishments serve the neighborhood’s residents, who have a mix of income levels.
“High-end restaurants are not the answer — they’re too expensive,” Belfer said.
Belfer is working with Goldman to schedule a community meeting about the building for the end of July.