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way to make the concept fit the crowded

conditions of New York City. The compa-
ny says that when it purchased the proper-
ty in the East Harlem section of the city,
the idea of bringing big-box retailers into
an urban setting was largely untested.
There were significant doubts as to
whether retailers such as Target and Best
Buy, known for their expansive, all-encom-
passing store layouts, would translate into
a relatively small footprint.
To get a sense of the kind of space lim-
itations East River Plaza was up against,
the project totals 485,000 square feet of
retail space, and includes retailers such as
Home Depot, Best Buy and Target. In a
suburban environment, such a develop-
ment would require at least 40 acres to
accommodate the stores and parking,
BDG says. The East River Plaza site is
approximately six acres total.
To help develop the project, BDG turned
to Atlanta firm GreenbergFarrow, which
has designed more than 1,800 stores for
Home Depot since 1979. In order to fit all
of that retail space on such a small site, the
project went vertical. The project measures
Outdoor lifestyle shopping centers have started to outpace indoor malls in popularity, and BDG has five stories, in essence stacking the retailers
been one of the developers on the forefront of bringing that trend to life. The company has developed on top of each other. The company says
several such facilities over the years, emphasizing the architecture and outdoor space.
this approach has been a new one for
many of the large national retailers
involved in the project, but they have
adjusted to the idea.
“The project objective is to create an
environment for the box user and nation-
al retailer, utilizing the site’s large floor
area, thereby allowing box users to have
a single-floor ‘suburban style’ location in
Manhattan,” the company says.
The suburban style extends to the park-
ing garage layout, which has been designed
to avoid having shoppers roll their carts up
and down ramps. Retailers were worried
about carts loaded with heavy items such
as lumber or appliances rolling out of con-
trol on sloped surfaces, the company says.
In East River Plaza’s parking garage,
shoppers enter and exit by using circular
ramps, but the parking surfaces them-
selves are flat. The parking decks are con-
nected directly to the retailers on each
floor by bridges, providing direct access
to parking.
All of this was essential to make the
big-box concept work in an urban set-
ting, according to BDG. The company
says making the project as close to the