By Ilaina Jonas
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brookfield Office Properties on Thursday unveiled a $250 million plan to expand the retail portion of its World Financial Center to add high end specialty grocers, restaurants and shops to the office complex located across from Manhattan's World Trade Center.
The plan has been in the works for years, Brookfield Office Properties Chief Executive Officer Ric Clark told reporters at a press conference.
Brookfield plans to build a glass pavilion in the front of the 8 million square foot office complex to attract the estimated 10 million tourists who visit the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan each year while it is under construction.
Inside the complex, Brookfield plans to add a 600-seat dining terrace where 15 well-known chefs would be able to offer a quick bite to eat, or take out.
It also plans a marketplace with a butcher, a fish monger and fresh local produce. Additionally, there will be six high-end restaurants.
Altogether the plan would expand the retail portion of the World Financial Center to at least 200,000 square feet from 160,000 square feet.
Most of the current retail tenants will not have their leases renewed and will be replaced by tenants such as those from other countries or local entrepreneurs, Brookfield executives said.
Brookfield executives said the retail upgrade also may help to attract tenants to 4.5 million square feet of office space that will become available at the World Financial Center by 2013.
The Financial District of lower Manhattan is becoming home to a young, professional crowd. Meantime, the World Trade Center has been aggressively marketing future office space there.
Conde Nast, publisher of the New Yorker, Vogue and Wired magazines, has signed a lease for 1 million square feet of office space at One World Trade Center.
UBS also is considering moving its investment banking business to downtown Manhattan from Stamford, Connecticut.
American Express and Goldman Sachs already are headquartered in or near the World Financial Center.
Construction will begin later this year and will be completed in 2013.
Australia's Westfield, the world's largest mall owner, has the right of first refusal to operate the retail portion of the World Trade Center.
Before the World Trade Center was attacked and destroyed in 2001, the underground mall at the site was one of the top three revenue producers among U.S. malls.
(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas in New York; additional reporting by Ka Yan Ng in Toronto; editing by Carol Bishopric)