Behind the Scenes at the New Brookfield Place

CPE had the exclusive opportunity to tour the $250 million renovation with the New York chapter of the national Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network.

Built between 1982 and 1988, the World Financial Center was almost a metaphor for the financial industry at the time: opulent, enduring and powerful. Since then, however, both the building and the financial industry have encountered major crises, namely the September 11 attacks and then the onslaught of the recession. The impact of the severe structural damage combined with the mass exodus of financial services companies from Lower Manhattan could have sealed the fate of the property for good, but the former World Financial Center is back and ready to anchor the culture of the new downtown.

Tour guests walk through a newly renovated retail concourse.

Tour guests walk through a newly renovated retail concourse.

CPE had the exclusive opportunity to explore the $250 million renovations as part of a tour hosted by the New York chapter of the national Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network on October 27. Rebranded as Brookfield Place, after its developer namesake, the new complex has cast aside the outdated brass finishes and red marble that once cemented its image as Wall Street’s home court.

Mirroring the changing face of Lower Manhattan, Brookfield Place caters to the surrounding neighborhood, rather than operating solely for those who work in the building. Downtown, as the fourth largest central business district in the country, is home to a valuable market of residents, of whom there are 60,000 and counting, according to Brookfield vice president of marketing Tara Goldstein. The new architecture itself is designed to entice passersby. The property’s glass facades offer views of the street level and waterfront.

(Left to right) Megan Brothers, Tara Goldstein and Callie Haines of Brookfield lead a panel discussion.

With a new open design plan design and lighter finishes, the new buildings are almost unrecognizable. Hallways of luxury retail, eateries and a subterranean subway connection where 11 different train lines converge make the buildings a destination for tourists and locals alike. While leases are still being finalized, the building’s 250,000 square feet of retail includes the likes of J. Crew, Hermes and Burberry, which are already fully operational. Among the attractions coming soon are a Gucci store and a massive 75,000 square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue.

Attendees view the new Winter Garden Atrium.

Attendees view the new Winter Garden Atrium.

Foodies and hungry lunch-breakers alike will relish the dining options, which span from the fast and casual Hudson Eats, a luxe food court of sorts, to acclaimed Philadelphia chef Jose Garces’ high-end tapas restaurant Amada, which has yet to open. Another notable option is Le District, a one-of-a-kind French marketplace which operates as one single tenant, even though it boasts several different food and beverage purveyors within the space.

Brookfield Place boasts views of the Waterfront Plaza and North Cove Yacht Harbor.

Brookfield Place boasts views of the Waterfront Plaza and North Cove Yacht Harbor.

Anchor tenants like Time Inc., Conde Nast and Goldman Sachs keep the business culture alive at Brookfield Place, while providing their employees with the wide range of amenities offered. An onsite child care service and Equinox gym are major draws for the nearby workforce community, who won’t have to leave the building to shop, eat, work out or connect to transportation. Brookfield itself headquarters its U.S. operations at Brookfield Place, and employees at the tour lauded its central location and commuter-friendliness.

If the new Brookfield Place is any indication, Lower Manhattan is no longer the exclusive kingdom of financial firms and business bigwigs, but is evolving into a cultural and commercial hub where everyone can find something to enjoy in, as the slogan calls it, “the heart of the new downtown.”