ST. GEORGE — A Staten Island developer hopes to turn a former car dealership warehouse into the city's next Williamsburg.
Gary Angiuli, CEO of The Angiuli Group, plans to lease out space in the large warehouse at 215 Bay St., which he calls "Back of the Bay," to trendy restaurants, shops and more.
"We're committed to creating a certain cachet to the whole block," he said. "We want to leave the neighborhood better than we started with."
Angiuli already has his anchor tenant, Flagship Brewing Company — one of the first breweries to open in the borough in decades — and is currently in talks with several other tenants to claim a spot.
"It's just the perfect tenant to launch the product," he said. "It will give a great feel to the whole block."
The building hasn't secured any other tenants yet, but Julia Koullias, a real estate agent with Dawning Real Estate, said they're in talks with a pizzeria and a Mexican canteen.
Koullias said they're now approaching businesses they would like to see in Back of the Bay and have already turned down other potential tenants that do not fit Angiuli's vision.
"They've got to add something interesting, something hipster," she said.
Angiuli won't just limit space to restaurants, but will rent to flower shops, wine stores, cigar stores, jazz clubs and any other merchants that fit his vision of turning the space into a hip hangout spot.
"First we want to get a couple of anchor restaurants and then we will decide to fill in after that," he said.
Angiuli said he hasn't had much contact with the local community and community board about the project, but expects the response to be great because he said there's a dearth of nightlife options.
He did recently meet with Borough President James Molinaro, who expressed support for the project, saying it would help the revitalization of the neighborhood.
"It’s another step in the ongoing renaissance of Staten Island’s downtown," Molinaro said in a statement.
"Mr. Angiuli met with me to discuss his idea, and I welcome and support this exciting project that will help make Staten Island’s Gateway a magnet for tourists and even more economic activity."
"What we've told every tenant is if you're not interested in doing something special, this isn't the spot," Angiuli said.
Angiuli's vision started last summer, when he went out to dinner one night in Williamsburg with his wife and some friends.
He realized that there was a lack of cool places like it in Staten Island, and thought the warehouse, which has sat empty for almost five years, would be the perfect spot.
"When we got there I thought, 'There's just nothing like this on Staten Island,'" he said. "I'm sitting with this warehouse space, and it would be ideal."
The neighborhood is already being revamped, with the world's largest Ferris wheel and the city's only outlet mall set to open up nearby in several years.
But Angiuli said he wants the place to be less of a tourist attraction and instead a nighttime spot for residents.
"I want this to be more of a neighborhood location than a tourist location," he said. "There are an awful lot of apartments down here that have no one servicing their needs."
Nothing is set in stone, but Angiuli plans to try to have the restaurants open up around the same time as the brewery in January.