STATEN ISLAND — Outlet shoppers in New York City may soon be able to ditch the bus tickets to the suburbs and instead hop on the ferry to Staten Island.
A nearly 500,000-square-foot outlet mall is being eyed for a parking lot near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Don Capoccia, of BFC Partners, the company that recently built the nearby Rail apartment complex in Stapleton, is reportedly in talks with the Bloomberg administration to complete the project.
The proposed outlet mall would be built near the much-rumored Staten Island Ferris wheel, which would be the world's largest observation wheel if the plan proceeds.
"It would be a draw for Staten Islanders and a draw for tourists to come downtown more than they already do," state Sen. Diane Savino told the Journal.
The observation wheel and outlet mall would aim to get tourists who ride the ferry to stay in the borough longer, instead of just immediately returning to Manhattan.
Nearly 2 million tourists ride the ferry a year, with few venturing outside of the terminal, according to a report by the Center for the Urban Future in 2007.
Officials hope to wrap up agreements with developments on both the outlet mall and the Ferris wheel at the same time, the Journal reported.
The two proposed projects would be built on two parking lots next door to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, which the New York City Economic Development Corporation advertised last August when it issued a "request for expressions of interest," to see what developments might be suitable for the area before putting out a formal bid.
The EDC could not comment on final plans for the request or the proposed outlet mall.
"We’re thrilled with the excitement these sites have generated as we continue discussions with multiple developers in the hope of unlocking significant economic development potential for Staten Island’s North Shore," said Kyle Skelrov, a spokesman for the EDC.
If built, the outlet mall could be the city's only — though apparently another mall is being considered on Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx.
Outlet shoppers in New York City usually take hour-long bus rides to malls in New Jersey, Long Island and the popular Woodbury Commons in Central Valley, N.Y.
The proposed Staten Island outlet would be considerably smaller than Woodbury Commons, and retail experts told the Journal it would be a challenge to get a large number of popular stores to attract shoppers.
It's not certain if retailers at Woodbury Commons would be able to open up in Staten Island, as malls generally restrict brands from opening locations nearby to protect themselves from competition, the Journal said.