WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The Gap and Buffalo Wild Wings are among a host of national retailers and smaller local businesses coming in the renovated George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal next summer.
At a public meeting organized by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez Tuesday, representatives of the Port Authority and developer George Washington Bridge Development Venture LLC announced the names of new retailers that have signed leases on the space, including the clothing retailer and restaurant as its anchors.
They will joined by anchors Marshalls, Blink Fitness and Fine Fare, as well as a dozen locally based businesses that have signed leases, including Café Buunni, VS Berry frozen yogurt shop, De Los Reyes Optical, Nail Lounge and Pepe Jeweler.
“They’re all very excited,” said Paul Slayton, a representative for the developer. “We’ve gone out of our way to make sure that the local community is represented.”
In most cases, the businesses are expanding to offer an alternate location rather than relocating to the terminal, he said.
The Port Authority also announced that it is allocating 1,600 square feet of community space to be offered rent free to a local nonprofit, though a tenant has not yet been selected.
After community leaders slammed the Port Authority in May for offering only 300 square feet of community space, >Councilman Rodriguez said the 1,600 square feet represents a major improvement, but is still not close enough to the community’s original goal of 10,000 square feet.
“The 1,600 square feet for the community to use inside the terminal is an important contribution,” Rodriguez said. “However, I believe that for an investment of $183 million, the community should get more.”
Rodriguez is pushing the agency to allocate additional community space in a nearby Port Authority- owned building at 178th Street and Wadsworth Avenue. He said that he would match whatever funds are required to redevelop the space for community purposes.
Port Authority representative Brian Simon said that the agency is still in discussions with local leaders.
“The Port Authority is in the midst of careful deliberations about how to meet the councilmember halfway,” Simon said.
Local leaders have also repeatedly asked the Port Authority for a study to determine how construction and the new retail will impact traffic in the area.
Rodriguez announced that the Port Authority and the Department of Transportation have committed $800,000 to undertake a traffic study of the area from 155th Street to 185th Street.
Stephen McBride, also with the developer, said that now that demolition has started at the site, the construction process should move quickly.
“We anticipate having the bus station open by mid-May of next year and having the stores open by mid-June,” he said.