The Columbus Circle subway hub, one of the busiest in the city, is about to become repopulated with stores and restaurants at a new underground shopping arcade called Turnstyle.
Currently the corridor stretching under Eighth Avenue from 57th to 59th streets has empty storefronts that were built by the MTA but never rented.
Developer Susan Fine says more than 22 million commuters a year travel through the Columbus Circle station, but that foot traffic has yet to be tapped effectively. She hopes to do so by the end of next year with 30 new retail spaces.
"We have lease commitments for 60 percent of the storefronts," she said.
Fine's real estate firm Oases is cosmetically overhauling the space, replacing the existing overhead fluorescent lighting with brighter and LED mini-lights in the ceiling. Plaster portions of storefront walls are being replaced with glass, and new flooring will cover the 325-feet expanse.
"We want to give it more light," said Fine, who revamped some of Grand Central Terminal's dingiest corridors while real estate director of the MTA two decades ago.
When completed, Turnstyle will feature vendors for grab-and-go items such as coffee, take-out and sit-in restaurants, and products such as cosmetics and small electronic gadgets.
"Any grocery or food would be good, " said one commuter as he stopped and glanced at the empty storefronts.
The MTA expects to see additional revenue of $1.25 million dollars a year from both rent and revenue-sharing for potentially the next 30 years. An MTA spokesperson said it's the first time they're working with a private sector company to operate its space, and if it's successful, may serve as a blueprint for other locations.
Turnstyle at the Turnstiles is due to open next year.