New Shops Coming to Roosevelt Island's Sleepy Main Street

By Amy Zimmer on April 20, 2012 5:04pm 

An aerial shot of Roosevelt Island.
An aerial shot of Roosevelt Island.
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Hudson Related Retail LLC

MANHATTAN — Roosevelt Island's Main Street about to get a jolt of energy.

Five new shops recently signed leases for vacant spaces along the two-mile-long island's retail corridor and are expected to open in the late summer, according to officials from Hudson Related Retail LLC, a joint venture between the Hudson and Related companies.

The new shops include: Island Spirits, a wine and liquor store; the European Bakery Café, offering gourmet foods; a Subway Sandwich branch; and a 7,000-square-foot fine arts center being opened by the Child School, complementing the program's art, music and dance studios.

"I have big dreams of transforming how people view the retail corridor," said David Kramer, a principal with Hudson, who believes the new shops will convince residents to spend more time shopping and relaxing on the island. "I want it to be thriving."

After the developers took over the master lease last year for the corridor's 34 shops — which have roughly 100,000 square feet of retail — they reached out to the island's 14,000 residents to find out what they wanted. The overwhelming response was food, Kramer said.

There are still four to seven vacant storefronts left, Kramer noted, but he's hopeful there will be a domino effect once the first round of new businesses open.

He's holding out for the right tenant on at least one larger space that formerly housed a batting cage.

"Right now, I'm saving 521 Main St. for a special something," he said. "I'm not sure what yet."

Kramer doesn't envision the shops will turn into a destination, he hopes that a "decent restaurant" could lure some Upper East Siders from across the East River for an outing — especially if "the walk down Main Street is not weird and depressing but uplifting," he said.

Developers are hoping to attract a pet store and an ice cream store, among others, in the next round of leases.  They're also looking for capital to fund the building of a new state-of-the art library branch at 504 Main St., Kramer said.

"For too long, Main Street has been a ghost town, forcing Roosevelt Islanders to travel far and wide for the simple amenities most New Yorkers take for granted," state Assemblyman Micah Kellner said in a statement.

The new shops will give "Roosevelt Islanders great new shopping opportunities right outside their front door," he added.

Traffic to the island is expected to increase when the Louis Kahn-designed Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Memorial opens in October and as the $2 billion 30-year Cornell University tech campus begins to take shape.  

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