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A mall with about 30 shops is set to open in the Columbus Circle subway station as soon as next year, the MTA told us today, as the agency negotiates the final terms of a master lease for the space.

The Columbus Circle station was designed to have room for stores when it was renovated in a massive project that ended about two years ago. The MTA put out a request for proposals in June 2012.

The winning bidder, Columbus LLC, will pay the agency rent and lease out the spaces to retailers. It’s a 20-year-lease with a 10-year renewal option. The 13 spaces in the station are expected to be subdivided into 30 shops.

The MTA is still finalizing terms for the first couple of years, said spokesman Kevin Ortiz, but is set to receive $720,000 in the third year of the deal, with rates escalating at about 3% each year after that. The MTA will also receive a share of the leasing company’s profits over and above a certain level.

An article by Women’s Wear Daily (subscription required) said the shops are expected to include “beauty, fashion, accessories and food shops,” but tenants have not yet been named. The director of the project is Susan Fine, who redeveloped Grand Central Terminal 20 years ago. The economics of the plan are certainly attractive, as WWD points out:

“The Turnstyle project is targeted at West Side residents and tourists; 90,000 commuters pass through the 59th Street-Columbus Circle concourse each day and 21 million people with an average annual income of $100,000 walk through the station each year, according to Turnstyle.”

NEWS | 34 comments | permalink
    1. John Charles says:

      Lovely yet another public place that will become privatized & more shopping just what UWS needs, has been perfect empty with the paintings of Christopher Columbus over the years. And of course the shops under will serve the same group as shops above. Even this article mentions the median income of those that pass through we are more and more being broken down primarily on our purchasing power to me this is ugly and dividing.

      • G Gomez says:

        The space was designed to have shops. It will still be a public place, just a more interesting and likely more populated (and thus safer) place. They aren’t going to “exclude” people from passing through or going in the shops, so how exactly is it “dividing?”

        You’d prefer stretches of blank walls with empty, unused space behind them?

      • John Charles says:

        Yes I would prefer nothing, I now that’s impossible for a good red blooded consumer driven citizen to get yet less is more and do we need more congestion shopping and hustle know your history this movement towards commercialization of public space is a new movement look at Bryant Park for good example you like it I don’t and don’t worry this trend will happily continue so you are reduced to a consumer not a citizen.

        • Charles Johnson says:

          John Charles might want to invest in some grammar and punctuation lessons…

          • John Charles says:

            Bitter , & petty too bad

            • ShermCraig says:

              Funny that John Charles is calling someone bitter. Perhaps John needs to re-read his all-negative rants? John, sounds like you should live somewhere else? What do you think?

      • james says:

        Public place? it’s a subway tunnel, not a park. unless you’re sleeping on the steps, i can’t imagine spending any more time there than necessary.

        • K8 says:

          Agreed, James. The subway is not for lounging around looking at empty walls. It is not a park. It is not peaceful. It is a means to transport masses of people from point A to point B, and if the MTA can get some revenue from impulse shoppers in addition to the fare, great. Maybe it will buy some time before the next fare hike.

    2. Jeremy says:

      Sounds great. If it’s anything like the market at Grand Central, that would be fantastic. Beauty and fashion, maybe not so much.

    3. Cato says:

      Let’s not kid ourselves. The shops at Grand Central are successful because of the upper-crust heading for their trains to Westchester and Connecticut. But those aren’t the kind of folks who are riding the #1 train to Columbus Circle.

      Rather, their analogues on the Upper Wealth Side don’t set foot in the — ugh!! — subway where they would have to rub elbows with the — ugh!! — working class. Unless MTA is planning for direct taxicab access to this mall, the high rollers won’t go anywhere near this misguided endeavor.

      So the end result will be cheap clothes boutiques, an inevitable barber shop, maybe even a record store. Just like the good old days of subway stores.

      But then again, that might not be such a bad thing.

      • G Gomez says:

        I’m always fascinated by the assertions some commenters make about the alleged “upper crust” on this site. I know a lot of wall street lawyers, bankers, and the like. Guess what? If they live in Manhattan, most take the subway to work. It’s usually the fastest way to get there, especially during rush hour. Why sit in a car wasting 45 minutes inching along when you can get there in 15 minutes?

      • westSideRRRR says:

        not sure why you think its acceptable to defame others you view a different then yourself, in this case successful working people ,or “upper crust” and assume you know all about them.

        comments like that directed at the poors would not be acceptable and neither should yours.

      • Big Bones Billy says:

        Who shops at Pink, Tourneau and Stewart Weitzman? Who eats at Per Se and Masa? Not the subway rats. Columbus Circle is good enough for them.

    4. Upper West Side Wally says:

      Shop there or don’t, but it will generate income for the MTA.

    5. Virgil says:

      They should make this space a homeless shelter so UWSers, particularly readers of this site, can complain about it.

      • WhatsUpDuck says:

        Great point, Virgil.

        But what should really happen at this station?

        Build an exclusive gym and only let the IRT riders in, not the lowly folks using the 8th Avenue line downstairs.

    6. PRL says:

      Kvetchers, must you really kvetch about every new development that might bring some money and tourists into the neighborhood? What about the jobs that would be created by all these new stores? Jobs that JUST MIGHT go to the homeless, or folks that can only afford rent-controlled apartments in our fine neighborhood! The UWS is not in danger of changing – it’s already changed. Embrace it and find a way to look at the bright side already.

      By the way, do some people really think that upper-crusters don’t take public transportation? I guess the hordes of people I’m rubbing elbows with on the 1-2-3 Trains must have stolen their fancy suits.

      • Shane says:

        Well said!

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        the vast majority — I would guess something in the order of 95-98% — of those taking the 1, 2, or 3 trains (or the C) on the UWS are not wearing fancy suits. these are working people. this is at all times of the day. I have looked around and wondered who my fellow riders are and this is my observation. yes, there are some Wall Streeters. but they are a small minority.

        • PRL says:

          I’m assuming you are attempting to maintain the argument that wealthy folks don’t take public transportation? Considering that your highly scientific observations show that 95%-98% of subway riders are, um, “working people”, that means that the actual percentage of Evil One-Percenters are, at the very least, 2% and even 5% of our fellow subway riders. Not bad!

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            working on Wall Street does not make you a “1%er.”

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            i notice that it pains you even to type the words “working people.”

            • PRL says:


            • Top Hat Guy says:

              Bloomberg takes the subway. And he’s worth $20 billion. A lot of 1%-ers (and even more 2-5%-ers) got rich by being frugal. I’m in the 5%er range, and I take the subway everywhere because it’s quick, convenient and above all CHEAP. I hope these stores give the Shops at Columbus Circle a run for their money.

          • chrissy says:

            I don’t know, seems to me like noone works anymore. And there’s no such thing as rush hour anymore either. I’m self-employed and take public transportation at all hours during the day and amazed that’s it’s just as crowded any other time of day as the original “rush hour”. So I think it could go either way… either people will shop at these stores because the subways are always so crowded or they won’t because they’re unemployed.

    7. Most of the shops will probably be small businesses not able to get street level retail space. Hopefully the MTA will offer competitive rents to these businesses. Due to the large number of visitors and workers in the area, opportunity and potential is great for small businesses. Devoid of vehicle traffic and street noise, the underground passageway between 57th an 58th streets will also be a safer place 24/7.

    8. Karen says:

      Just seems a little amusing to me that $100k/yr seems to be the benchmark for “plenty of disposable income for merchants to target” in this town.

    9. Melanie says:

      Sounds great to me. Paris has these at big metro stops. They’re great for picking up last minute things or just adding a little interest to the commute. If they’re nicely done, they brighten things up.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Definitely…but ONLY if the shops include:

        1). A REAL OLD-FASHIONED SUBWAY NEWSSTAND, complete with a real human there to sell you tabloids, broadsheets, magazines, and lots of candies, esp. Lifesavers, “The Candy With the Hole in the Middle”, as the company used to boast.

        2) One of those stores that sell freshly-made JELLY APPLES in all their garish cartoon-y red hard-as-a-rock candy coating and a stick shoved next to the stem to serve as a handle.

        Still recall my Dad occasionally bringing one home as a treat (if he remembered) during his daily hour-long multi-subway-line commute from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to a walk-up apartment house (664 Beck Street) in the South Bronx.

        Oh, and could someone please bring those “handful of Spanish Peanuts” dispensers. Of course, today the slots would have to accept dollar bills rather than one penny!

    10. MSL says:

      I used to work across from GCT and was a regular customer of the market. I would stop on my way to the 1/2/3 via the shuttle. Yes, I ride the subway just like all my other neighbors. We are New Yorkers; we rub elbows.
      Any empty, unused space that the MTA can convert to revenue should be applauded. They need the revenue and we need the service. And yes, the addition of these new tenants will make the space safer and more attractive while providing services for those locals and TOURISTS that would like to avail themselves of whatever is offered. I look forward to rubbing elbows with some of the employees of these new stores as I continue to ride the westside lines each day.

    11. Lucien Desar says:

      This is great news. The more underground stores and convenience the better especially during the harsh winter months or when it rains.