NEW YORK CITY-A 110,000-square-foot Costco opened its doors Thursday as the first tenant to set up shop at the East River Plaza in East Harlem. It’s the first Manhattan location for the warehouse club and the culmination of a 13-year process to develop the 500,000-square-foot retail center.

When fully occupied, East River Plaza will also be home to the borough’s first Target, along with Best Buy, Marshalls, PetSmart and Old Navy. The tenants will open their stores beginning next spring, according to a release from Forest City Ratner Cos., which developed the project as a partner in Tiago Holdings, a joint venture with Blumenfeld Development Group.

“Given the tough economic times we face, East River Plaza offers a much-needed boost to the economy of New York City,” says Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of FCRC, in a release. “East River Plaza brings jobs for local residents and generates tax revenue for the city and state. It also provides Manhattan’s residents and small businesses with access to quality merchandise at wholesale prices.”

Ratner says the project is more than 90% leased, and will generate approximately 2,000 permanent jobs when fully occupied. The Costco has about 400 employees, mostly from northern Manhattan.

In 1996, Syosset, NY-based BDG bought the six-acre parcel, stretching from 116th to 119th street between FDR Drive and Pleasant Avenue, that formerly housed the Washburn Wire factory. The area was rezoned for commercial use three years later, and FCRC bought into the project in 2004.

At one point a few years ago, the project was to bring Target to Manhattan as a substitute for Costco, and would also have included a Home Depot, according to published reports. However, Costco ended up taking the Home Depot space when the home-improvement giant scaled back its expansion plans.

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