Published: June 3, 2008
Rumors quickly circulated over the past few weeks among dealers, collectors and shoppers, and it was not until recently approached during a major antiques fair that she was visiting that a wry smile appeared on Irene Stella’s face and the erroneous information was quickly dispelled. “The Pier Shows have not been sold,” she announced to concerned dealers, time and time again, as she circulated among the booths at the show.
The rumor that Stella Show Mgmt Co. had sold off the Pier Shows surfaced after news of a deal struck between Vornado Realty Trust (VRT) and the City of New York was published in several metropolitan papers both in New York City and New Jersey, as well as Chicago. VRT’s subsidiary, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc (MMPI), conducts several art, antiques and decorator shows under its Art Group division in addition to more than 300 trade shows annually.
“They have gotten the award from the city to redevelop the Piers,” stated Irene Stella of Vornado’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Roth and MMPI’s President Chris Kennedy. “They are going to redevelop Piers 92 and 94 into a convention center with 355,000 square feet. They are going to have three lobbies, truck docks under Pier 92, a restaurant on back of Pier 94 and there will also be a park next to 94, with an entrance into the exhibition hall.”
MMPI’s Art Group conducts fairs internationally, with events in its growing stable including VOLTA in Switzerland, Art Chicago, The Toronto International Art Fair, The Armory Show at Pier 94, and VOLTA NY.
“They are in a show buying mode, it seems,” said Stella. “We are on good terms with them, but we are not selling our business to them. They guarantee that all the shows will get space at the Piers.”
MMPI is a trade show and property management firm that specializes in managing buildings devoted to wholesale showrooms and commercial office space. MMPI produces more than 300 tradeshows, market events and conferences each year. MMPI manages The Merchandise Mart and 350 West Mart Plaza in Chicago’ Market Square, the Suites at Market Square, Hamilton Market, Plaza Suites, Furniture Plaza and the National Furniture Mart in High Point, N.C.; the Architects & Designers Building and 7 West 34th Street in New York City; the Boston Design Center; the L.A. Mart in Los Angeles; and the Washington Design Center and Federal Center Southwest in Washington D.C.
“This new, expanded facility will enable us to accommodate more of the midsized trade shows that we know want to come to New York City,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky in a released statement. “Convention business, including trade and consumer shows, last year drew nearly four million visitors to the city and injected $4.32 billion into the local economy. This new, expanded facility will allow us to win a greater share of this multibillion-dollar business.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the developer will lease the Piers for 49 years, with two 25-year extensions. The developer will phase construction to allow for continuing operation of the existing shows. The project will include approximately 125,000 square feet of trade show space on the ground floor and second level of Pier 92, 85,000 square feet on Pier 94 and 145,000 square feet in the completely rebuilt head house.
The new facility will feature three separate entrances to accommodate a number of simultaneous trade show events efficiently. The publicly accessible winter garden will also feature a separate entrance and food service facilities. The outdoor esplanade to be constructed on the north and west sides of Pier 94 will provide the public with passive recreational opportunities and waterfront views.
Stella Mgmt has announced a larger format show at the Piers for this coming fall season, November 15 and 16. Touting the show as “bigger,” the manager commented, “We are moving vintage fashions to Pier 92 and are adding inexpensive booths for fashion and collectibles on that Pier †so we will be back to over 600 exhibitors for the fall.”
“So that’s the real story,” stated Stella; the Piers are still a Stella show. For further information, 212-255-0020 or www.stellashows.com .
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