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We visited NYC's first outlet mall - which is still more than half-empty months after opening - and found an eerie ghost town

We visited NYC's first outlet mall - which is still more than half-empty months after opening - and found an eerie ghost town

Empire Outlets

Bethany Biron/Business Insider

A floral sign at Empire Outlets in Staten Island.

  • The first-ever outlet mall in New York City opened in May. Several months later only a third of the stores are occupied, according to a recent report from The City.
  • We visited Empire Outlets in Staten Island and saw that a majority of the sprawling 340,000 square-foot space is still empty and under construction.
  • Though we were impressed with the design and beautiful Manhattan skyline views, there was a troubling lack of shoppers and the empty storefronts created a bit of a wasteland atmosphere.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Though traditional malls may be on the decline, New York City is taking a chance on its first-ever outlet mall, the recently opened Empire Outlets in Staten Island.

Empire Outlets was developed by BFC Partners and officially opened to the public in May, announcing at the time it planned to open stores in multiple stages. However, with just a third of the storefront spaces currently filled, the future success of the endeavor remains unclear. Though the mall currently boasts several major brands - including American Eagle, Brooks Brothers, Crocs, Gap, Nike, and Nordstrom Rack, among others - thus far only 26 of its 75 retail spaces are currently filled, The City reported.

"The vast majority" of the retail spaces have already been leased, a BFC spokesperson told the City.

"Empire Outlets has played a central role in the revitalization of Staten Island's North Shore and is quickly becoming one of New York's top shopping destinations for local residents and tourists from throughout the world," a statement given to The City reads.

Still, outlet malls with their enticing deals on discounted goods have fared better than traditional malls in recent years. Today there are around 200 outlets in the US valued at a combined $50 billion according to data provided to the Wall Street Journal by Green Street Advisors. Part of the success of outlets can be attributed to their lack of department stores - which have been particularly hard hit in the retail apocalypse - as well as increased demand for off-price options contributing to the growth of offshoots like Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off-Fifth.

Read more: 50 haunting photos of abandoned shopping malls across America

When we visited Empire Outlets on a recent Thursday morning, several areas were still under construction and the mall was nearly empty. Despite these concerning elements, the mall itself was impressive with its gleaming industrial architecture, the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, and its sheer enormity.

Here's what we saw.

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