The reopening of the World Trade Center mall Tuesday is expected to help transform downtown Manhattan shopping and illustrate how much progress has been made in rebuilding and revitalizing the area since the 9/11 attacks.
Shops from Apple to Forever 21 to H&M to John Varvatos will serve an increasingly diverse group of area residents and workers beyond Wall Street bankers that now includes a slew of advertising and media employees. But they’ll also be catering to visitors of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, which requires a delicate touch.
The new spaces let customers tap into technology, as some retailers use the space for their latest ideas. Ford Motor Co. is set to open this fall the first FordHub, a showroom for innovations that’s not a dealership. Shoe purveyor Aldo Group Inc. is using the opening to launch an app feature for this store, which will be rolled out to other stores. Digital billboards in the mall include a 280-foot-long one.
“We truly believe this will be the center of commerce and culture for lower Manhattan,” says Bill Hecht, chief operating officer of Westfield Corp.’s U.S. division. Westfield manages the retail properties, while the Port Authority owns the real estate.
The 365,000-square-foot center will have more than 100 stores, with about 60 opening Tuesday and the rest by December. It stretches along a four-block underground network that spans the bases of three office towers. While mostly below street level, light beams in through the windows of the winged Oculus that tops the transportation hub of 13 subway trains and river ferries. More than 300,000 commuters use it on a daily basis.