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Raydene Salinas

Columbus Circle's huge underground mall and food court opens tomorrow

By Tolly Wright
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Every New Yorker has scarfed down the occasional on-the-go meal on a subway platform, but few of us ever choose to linger underground. TurnStyle, the new mall and food court opening tomorrow inside the Columbus Circle station, might change that. Here are the deets:

The vision
“We wanted to make a destination,” explains Susan E. Fine, TurnStyle's principal developer, “someplace people want to go at 8pm, not just somewhere you pass on your commute.” The underground center’s 12 storefronts, 7 kiosks and 20 gourmet eateries cater to both busy young professionals and weary tourists—no drugstores or dime-a-dozen pizza chains here. 


The transformation
The first major private development inside an NYC subway station, this project completely renovated the 325-foot-long passageway from 57th Street and Eighth Avenue to the train platforms at 59th Street and Columbus Circle (which you can visit without swiping your MetroCard). The space had several old storefronts, but since 2009, the MTA hadn’t found any tenants to lease them. Now, due to the architectural changes, only one storefront will be empty when the mall opens.

The food
Fine, who also worked on the development of Grand Central, says she applied lessons from that project. “A: You can never have too much food, and B: You need items that are good for on-the-go eating,” she explains. TurnStyle’s dining options include Taiwanese dumpling and noodle house Yong Kang Street, vegan favorite Blossom du Jour and a second outpost of Chelsea Market’s Doughnuttery. Ample seating and tables create a sidewalk café atmosphere, which will become all-the-more palpable when live bands play in the circular court close to 57th Street.

The design
Above the stores, a long, thin mirrored ceiling mixes with details, like the subway’s large pipes, to bring height and openness to the otherwise confined space. The influences of Chelsea Market and other prized food halls are immediately apparent in industrial touches, which include elements of the original architecture (the station originally opened back in 1932), and decor that includes warm, natural wood and lots of lighting.

The shops
TurnStyle’s list of small specialty stores includes cosmetic cult-fave Lush, sweet-tooth mecca Dylan’s Candy Bar and menswear brand Spectre & Co. Several spots, like stationery staple Papyrus cards and whimsical bouquet purveyor Flower Girl NYC, sell quick, easy gift items, and the New Stand, a modern take on the classic NYC subway kiosk, offers on-the-go necessities like phone chargers, toiletries and all-natural condoms.

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