Shelton Haynes: Retail, Fine Dining, and Hotels on Roosevelt Island

In a cooperative venture with Cornell Tech, Roosevelt Island saw the development of a 12-acre campus on the southern end of the island starting in 2017, and Shelton Haynes saw the potential for growth on the island. With the Graduate Roosevelt Island Hotel opening in 2021, complete with rooftop fine-dining restaurant Anything at All providing beautiful views of famous New York City architectural greats, the ability to bring more tourism to the island was greatly improved. But how did Haynes steer the development of the island to encourage this type of investment?

Investments in the Community

Originally named Minnehannock, or “nice island” in the native Algonquin tongue, beautiful Roosevelt Island has a long history of institutions and companies coming and going, but the recent investment is here to stay. Shelton Haynes has worked with the Hudson Companies and Related Companies on long-term leases covering 90,000 square feet of retail space on the island’s Main Street, with over 95% of shops now leased, a great accomplishment in an America where, in many cases, Main Street is floundering. Businesses such as Granny Annie’s Bar & Kitchen, a New York Public Library branch, Wholesome Taqueria, Wholesome Factory, Island OM, and many more.

Revitalizing the Corridor

Haynes recognized the importance of enhancing the island’s aesthetic appeal to attract more visitors and encourage them to spend time exploring its offerings. As part of this vision, the Main Street corridor underwent significant refurbishment, including repainting, rebranding, and installing benches, signs, lights, and wooden ceilings in the arcade area. These improvements not only enhance the visual appeal of the island but also create a welcoming environment for tourists and residents alike. Haynes views this construction as tangible evidence of Roosevelt Island’s growing allure as a destination for living, working, and investing.

Shelton Haynes Has Big Development Plans

However, before 2021, the island had no hotel for visitors to stay longer, which was among the reasons why Shelton Haynes has encouraged this development as part of the island’s overall development strategy. When the Graduate Roosevelt Island Hotel was opened by Cornell Tech in 2021, featuring unconventional details, playful furniture, and splashes of color, it brought a breath of fresh air to what can sometimes be a boring hotel design trend. The associated rooftop restaurant provides 360-degree views of the river along with Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan skylines. The restaurant focuses on New American cuisine, including a menu that is focused on seasonable produce, local foods, and sustainable practices.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s Bright Future

Shelton Haynes’ efforts with the RIOC are bearing fruit. Due to the island’s unique situation and limited road access, with only a single bridge connecting it to Queens, it has a unique history, including a working smallpox hospital, an insane asylum, a prison, and a workhouse. Moving far from these less-than-promising roots, the island’s beautiful parks, distinct population, excellent opportunities, and vibrant lifestyle make Roosevelt Island a wonderful place to invest, live, visit, and work, both now and long into the future.


Shelton Haynes has successfully transformed Roosevelt Island into an attractive investment and tourism destination through strategic partnerships, community-focused initiatives, and an unwavering vision. The island’s Main Street corridor has been rejuvenated with thriving businesses, and the addition of the Graduate Roosevelt Island Hotel and its rooftop restaurant has further elevated its appeal. With continued efforts and a commitment to sustainable development, Roosevelt Island’s unique charm, historic significance, and modern amenities are poised to attract an increasing number of visitors, residents, and investors for years to come.