Mr Sitt’s plans for the arcade – which include Jimmy Choo and Lulu Guinness shops as well as sculptures of human forms by Anthony Gormley – threaten the lifeblood of many long-time tenants.
But to him the ensuing furore is part of his day job. “We’ve been through this before. It’s the same song playing again and again,” he said.
He says opponents also painted him as an uncultured outsider intent on destroying local heritage when he renovated the Palmer House hotel in Chicago and the Phelan Building in San Francisco.
Even in Coney Island – a faded, seedy part of the Brooklyn seafront where Mr Sitt spent childhood weekends – his plan to revive its old spirit with an audaciously glitzy complex of shops, hotels and amusements was unpopular.
After resistance from Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor, he reined in his ambitions, but that has not dented his self-belief.
“In all three situations, there were critics who doubted we could revitalise these buildings and neighbourhoods while still staying true to their unique history,” he said. “And in all three places, we’ve either already proven – or are in the process of proving – those doubters wrong.”