Can Wine and Beer Breathe Life into Liberty Place?

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Shops at Liberty Place
Shops at Liberty Place

We’ve been wondering about this report of New York wine bar Vintage Irving negotiating to open an undetermined restaurant project in the Shops at Liberty Place ever since we read it. Our first thought was, “Really? The Shops at Liberty Place? Who goes there after dark? Can a wine bar hidden on the second floor of a half-empty, morgue-like city mall that leaks when it rains do any business other than at lunch? Which realtor suckered these New Yorkers into believing that was a great location for anything?”

Vintage Irving’s spokesperson wouldn’t confirm to us what type of operation they might be in discussions to open, saying in an email that “any information would be premature, we have not finalized any plans.” However, an article in today’s Inky sheds some light on a new retail strategy at play in the struggling 20-year-old mall, which, as the article notes “apart from the food court, it has been unable to define itself beyond the lunch-break crowd.”

The Shops’ new general manager, Karen Pollard, told the paper she’s trying to create a new tenant mix, perhaps one where a wine bar might not be such an odd fit after all?:

“I believe this place needs an energy boost,” said Pollard, a retail-leasing pro from Connecticut whose binder full of Liberty Place tenant proposals reflects the irrepressible enthusiasm she has brought to a daunting job during a tough economy.

Indeed, the Shops are undergoing a visibly awkward transition. In recent weeks, there has been a surge of suddenly empty storefronts.

“There’s going to be a period where it gets worse before it gets better,” Pollard noted. “But that’s the nature of the business.”

There’s also a mention of “negotiations” for an unnamed brewpub in the article. Could that be Vintage Irving’s concept? Or someone entirely different? With our luck, Stephen Starr is probably behind it.

Changes in store for Shops at Liberty Place [Inquirer]
NYC Wine Bar Eyes Liberty Place [Inquirer]

Can Wine and Beer Breathe Life into Liberty Place?