Staten Island's Empire Outlets, planned for the borough's north shore, were supposed to be open for holiday shopping by now. But they're still not finished and now organizers are pushing the opening once again - this time, to next fall. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci explains what's behind the latest delay.
With sweeping views of the New York Harbor and access to the ferry and all the tourists who ride it, developing Staten Island's waterfront would seem like a slam dunk. But that has not been the case for two supposedly game-changing projects announced five years ago - Empire Outlets and the New York Wheel.
"It's frustrating to say the least," said one Staten Island resident.
The latest setback is a new delay for the outlet center.
Empire Outlets was supposed to open in 2015. But construction didn't begin until then.
The outlets then were to open in time for this holiday shopping season.
Developers pushed that date back to spring 2018 to coincide with the delayed opening of the New York Wheel. But the wheel's construction has been halted indefinitely and now Empire Outlets says it's pushing back its opening again to next fall.
"They should speed that back up to the spring time because we'd really like to go shopping," said one Staten Islander.
"It seems like they're just selling us a dream. They say that all these jobs are gonna come, and it seems like everyone is hopeful, but it's just like a waiting game," noted another.
Four-hundred residents have completed a training program to get a first crack at some of the 1200 jobs at the outlets. But hiring is on hold too.
"They're very optimistic in saying that this is going to be a much more up and coming area, very soon. But very soon, I don't know when that's going to happen," said one Staten Islander.
A spokesman for Empire Outlets says the latest postponement has nothing to do with the delays plaguing the wheel. He claims Empire Outlets simply needs more time choosing the right tenants.
He says interest in leasing space surged after the New York State attorney general ruled that the property manager at Woodbury Commons north of the city could not fine its retailers who wanted to locate in Staten Island, too.
In the meantime, there's still no date for when work will begin again at the wheel.
The project has been in limbo ever since the developers fired the contractor last spring.
A spokeswoman says only that the developers are close to a deal with its new contractor, American Bridge, and will make an announcement when that happens.