BATTERY PARK CITY — A longtime Lower Manhattan shoe repair shop is getting the boot.
Cobbler Express Shoe Repair, which opened in 1988 in what was then called the World Financial Center, is being kicked out of its home amid renovations to convert the complex, now known as Brookfield Place, to a luxury mall, the owners said.
“My heart is in that building,” said Charles Colletti, 52, a third generation cobbler who owns the shoe repair shop with his brother, Carmine Colletti. “It’s where I started my own shop.”
The Collettis said that three years ago, when Brookfield began its $250 million overhaul of the office complex, they were moved from a store space to a hallway kiosk. They were assured, however, that they’d eventually return to a permanent storefront when renovations were finished.
Now that’s not happening, the brothers said. They’ll have one more year in the kiosk, but Brookfield recently told them they won't be able to get a new store.
“Business has been tough in the kiosk for three years — we’re sort of hidden away,” said Carmine Colletti, 50. “If we knew they didn’t want us back, we would have been looking for another place to go — now we’re scrambling to find something.”
Brookfield did not immediately return a request for comment.
The brothers have also operated what they say is a successful storefront, called Stanley Cobbler Shop, at 11 Thames St., just across from the World Trade Center site, since 2000.
The Collettis are lifelong Bay Ridge residents, but they said they feel like Lower Manhattan is their second home.
"We rebuilt our shop in [the] World Financial Center after 9/11, we wanted to stay here — it was a struggle, but we did it, " Charles Colletti said.
Their dedication to shoe repair may also have something to do with their own personal history. Their grandfather in Sicily used to make shoes, and their father, Giuseppe, ran a shop called Joe's Shoe Repair in Bay Ridge for nearly 40 years.
“We were always busy in Brookfield,” said Carmine Colletti, whose shop used be located near the Winter Garden, across from the marina. “We did good business there — I think there’s a need for us here, we’re part of the community.”
The brothers will be opening another shop at One New York Plaza, another Brookfield property, within a year, but that deal was made several years ago — and part of the reason they agreed to stay in the kiosk, they said.
"We always wanted to have a base in Brookfield, and that's what we thought we'd have," said Carmine Colletti. "It's where we feel we belong."