“Staten Island has a tough time being cool,” said Kamillah Hanks, founder of the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership, as she spoke to a tour group about the North Shore neighborhood of Stapleton. It’s true: New York’s forgotten borough, often seen as isolated due to its inaccessibility by bridge or Subway line from Manhattan, doesn’t have the same charm or youthful energy that is pervasive in Brooklyn and parts of Queens now. Recently, developers have been aiming to change this perception while also taking advantage of vacant spaces on the island’s North Shore, with notable—and projects including the New York Wheel, Empire Outlets, Lighthouse Point, and URL Staten Island. This past weekend, Curbed took a tour, hosted by Untapped Cities and Munro Johnson, vice president of Staten Island development projects for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, of some of the key sites and newest ventures to hit the island as businesses and residents alike descend on the area after being priced out of other boroughs and neighborhoods.
The tour began mere steps away from the Stapleton Staten Island Railway Station at URL Staten Island (short for “Urban Ready Life,” a rental community developed by Ironstate Development that is part of the larger community known as the New Stapleton Waterfront. Greg Russo from Ironstate explained that the 900-unit development, which is slated to open its first phase by the end of this year, is targeting apartment hunters in their 20s or 30s, as the island has experienced an exodus of young people in recent years. The project, which was implemented by the EDC’s Capital Program, will also foster community life with a public plaza, a cafe, and 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Outside of the buildings, the developer hopes to work with the borough to upgrade and create more streets connecting the shore area with the inner neighborhood, as the areas feel very distinct from one another at the moment.