Gentrification Takes The Ferry To Staten Island

The once stigmatized island gets the gentrification treatment.

By Jeff Vasishta November 1, 2016

There are two main stereotypes about Staten Island: On one hand it’s filled with imposing housing projects. On the other, generations of Italian families, the extreme clichés—body building dudes with the Italian flag in the bedroom wall—are plentiful. Well, now there’s going to be a third—waterfront restaurants, luxury condos and box chain stores. Yes, gentrification is taking the ferry over to Shaolin.

Related: Study Shows That Six Percent Creative Workers Is The Tipping Point For Gentrification Of Cities

At the core of the Staten Island’s make-over is a $1.3 billion private development around the ferry terminal. Urby Staten Island by Hoboken based Ironstate Development aims to bring a little bit of Bushwick to Staten Island without the Brooklyn prices. Businesses are local and artisanal. Stores like Lola Star, a Coney Island clothing shop, or Coffeed, a Queens originated coffee chain have moved in. Now complete, its website says “hundreds of thousands of square feet (will be) dedicated to residential and retail purposes, intertwined with open spaces and pathways designed to encourage pedestrian activity and public gatherings.” Current rents are $1,508 for studios, $1,933 for one-bedrooms, and $2,507 for two-bedrooms. So much for the pricing, which is actually right around the same as Bedstuy or Crown Heights.

“The North Shore is the Hoboken of the future. You’ve never seen something like Urby on Staten Island before, and I think the developers landed a goldmine when they put Urby where they did,” new resident Kate Rodal, told

Developer Dave Barry of Ironstate told ”I think Urby is the shot in the arm that is going to revive the North Shore. …The North Shore of Staten Island has the potential to be linked to the cultural landscape of New York City,” he said. “People went to Williamsburg and Hoboken and then to places like Long Island City. …Staten Island’s North Shore is a part of that same story.”

“Stapleton is in need of revitalization,” he added. “It’s an area that has been plagued by crime and general lack of amenities and quality retail. Urby is a sizable project and it’s just the type of thing that will bring new people to the area,”

Other developments of note include Empire Outlets in St. George, a mall and entertainment complex as well as the New York Wheel—a 630-foot-tall Ferris wheel inspired, surely by the London Eye. With beautification projects in Stapleton financed by the city to the tune of $32 million (parks, benches, fountains) replacing soulless parking lots, Staten Island’s make-over is in full swing. The outlets give a reason for the hordes of foreign tourists taking ferry trips to the Statue of Liberty, to take a look around and spend some cash.

Fix-up fever appears to have engulfed the island. Lighthouse Point, due for completion in the Summer of 2019, is a mixed-use complex planned for St. George which will build retail and apartment buildings into the brick campus of the United States Lighthouse Service Depot, where Fresnel lenses were located. Part of the complex will include 12-story, 116-unit apartment tower with stores, offices and restaurants at its base. There will also be a hotel whose lobby incorporates one of the lighthouse buildings.

A New York Yimby search shows projects such as Lighthouse Point’s 12-story, 175 room Westin Hotel well underway along with a three-story, 197,000 square-foot retail space/movie theater in Charleston, the works.

With an expanded ferry service, additional condo developments and cash spent on international advertising, the stigma of Shaolin could be about to shift.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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