After suffering during the recession and its aftermath, Woodbury Common is undergoing a makeover designed to get its mojo back.
Originally built in 1974 as a small boutique shopping center, the Woodbury complex is expanding its footprint to debut gourmet grocer Fresh Market and add SoulCycle, a fitness chain that has inspired a devoted fan base. The center's owner, Kabro Associates, is revamping its layout and boosting its tenant mix to regain the edge it had before the recession.
All of that bodes well for long-term tenants like Tallulah, an upscale women's clothing shop that has been at the center for 19 years.
"The point is nobody in Woodbury is going to have Fresh Market, and nobody is going to have SoulCycle," said Lon Goldstein, who co-owns Tallulah with David Ostrove.
Goldstein and Ostrove recently relocated their shop within the center, giving the store an interior makeover. The building where they had been located was demolished to make way for parking and to increase the center's visibility from Jericho Turnpike. Tallulah, in business for 29 years, will be near SoulCycle -- a strong generator of customer traffic, Goldstein noted.
Despite the center's struggles during the recession, Tallulah was buoyed by a loyal clientele, Goldstein said. He said the store had offers from other shopping centers, but he had faith in Kabro Associates.
"I had confidence that they would bring the center back to where it was," he said.
Plans to rejuvenate Woodbury Common have been in the works for about three years, said Neal S. Kaplan, managing partner of Woodbury-based Kabro Associates. He recognized the need for a major change after a difficult period between 2007 and 2009. At the time, "it wasn't cool to spend money anymore, even for people who had money," Kaplan said. And Woodbury Common was primarily a "discretionary purchase center," he said.
Kabro purchased an adjacent office building for about $1.9 million, according to county records, and demolished it to make way for the 20,000-square-foot Fresh Market, expected to open in the fall. A 16,000-square-foot building was constructed for additional tenants; newcomers include women's apparel and accessories chain Francesca's, a wine shop and a Greek restaurant.
Kaplan declined to reveal the cost of the redesign, describing it as a multimillion-dollar project and the center's fifth expansion.
Creating the right mixKabro is creating more of a "lifestyle center" than a shopping center, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a Port Washington-based market research firm. Bringing in a fitness studio as well as a high-end supermarket helps boost visits and entices the customer to stay longer, he said.
"It also hedges their bet," said Cohen, referring to the tenant mix. "If one business starts to fall short, they are not stuck with one industry tanking. And these businesses can feed off each other."
SoulCycle has been following its clientele, many of them former Manhattan residents who have had children and moved to the suburbs, said spokeswoman Gabby Etrog Cohen. The company selects locations with "heavy foot traffic and like-minded businesses," she said.
Fresh Market spokeswoman Drewry Sackett cited Woodbury Common's reputation as "one of the finest upscale shopping destinations on Long Island" as an important factor behind the company's decision to locate its first Long Island store there.
Tallulah fits into the equation because it is not "cookie cutter" and it provides a high level of personal service, Kaplan said. With two dressmakers on staff, the shop will customize clothes at the customer's request, Goldstein said.
The store already has drawn new customers in its new spot, he said. "This is a better location. We're already getting more traffic."