Home News Shopping will open at Grand Central Madison by next year: MTA

Shopping will open at Grand Central Madison by next year: MTA

Long Island commuters might be noshing and shopping at Grand Central Madison as early as next year.

The MTA has begun formally looking for a so-called “master tenant” to manage the LIRR terminal’s 25,000 square feet of retail space, transit officials announced Tuesday, saying they’re aiming to close the deal by year’s end.

“We’re hoping to make a selection by the fall,” David Florio, the MTA’s head of real estate, told reporters. “Between lease negotiation, plan review and so forth, we’re hoping to see some stores slowly ramp up during the course of 2025, and probably by ’26 you’ll see a full complement of stores.”


Generic photos of store shelves fill the windows of new retail space in Grand Central Madison.

Evan Simko-Bednarski

Generic photos of store shelves fill the windows of new retail space in Grand Central Madison. (Evan Simko-Bednarski)

The gleaming white concourse’s 32 storefronts have sat empty since the LIRR’s long-awaited eastern terminal first opened in January 2023, with their huge plate glass windows papered over by generic scenes of food and consumer goods.

“When we were finishing up this new terminal, it was the height of COVID,” MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said Tuesday. “In the middle of that, we talked to the market about retail and everybody said, understandably, ‘We’ve got to wait until COVID is over and see how the world recovers and see what the foot traffic is in this new terminal.’ ”

Foot traffic in the east Midtown area is on the rise overall, Alfred Cerullo, head of the Grand Central Partnership, told reporters.

“We began this year at over 80% of 2019 numbers, in terms of pedestrians accessing this neighborhood,” Cerullo said.

On the weekends, he said, foot traffic in east Midtown is even higher than before the pandemic, though he didn’t give specific numbers.

MTA officials have long said they wanted a single “master tenant” to take charge of Grand Central Madison, where food and retail options remain sparse over a year after opening.

Similar agreements have proved successful at other hubs, like at Penn Station, where Vornado Realty Trust rules the roost.

Earlier this year, the Westfield Corp., which operates the concessions at the Fulton St. station in lower Manhattan, abruptly said it wanted to back out of its agreement with the MTA, citing crime and quality-of-life issues.

The company is roughly halfway through its 20-year lease agreement. The MTA has since sued Westfield in an effort to prevent the company from bowing out of the station.

Lieber addressed system safety Tuesday.

“I think folks who have used this facility know that this is incredibly well-policed and orderly,” he said. “I think that the world experiences Grand Central as among the safest places to be in transit.”

Asked what kinds of shops and restaurants he envisioned coming to the terminal, Lieber referenced the amenities at Grand Central Terminal some 50 feet above.

“Grand Central Terminal — old Grand Central — is the model,” he said.

Lieber, who prior to his stint as MTA honcho headed up Silverstein Properties’ World Trade Center division during the rebuilding of the complex, took a dig at his former stomping ground.

“We may not be the Oculus — we have not organized around providing our commuters the opportunity to buy a $10,000 watch on their way to or from getting their salad,” he quipped.

“What we’re looking for is a mix that’s very similar to Grand Central now,” Lieber added.

An MTA brochure for potential respondents shows a hypothetical map of the concourse with shops identified as newsstands, bagel stores and an Italian restaurant. Lieber said he hoped some big-name retailers would be in the mix, too.

One tenant is already known. Tracks, the stalwart LIRR bar known for its Penn Station location, has signed on to open a branch at the center of Grand Central Madison.

The bar, which is contracting directly with the MTA rather than through the future master tenant, is expected to open by the end of the year.



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