Health Clinic Seeks 10-Year Lease in Essex Market Building

Next month, Community Board 3’s Seward Park redevelopment committee will tackle a thorny issue: whether the Essex Street Market should be demolished and relocated in a new building south of Delancey. There are four market buildings, two of which are mostly vacant. Besides the public market, there’s only one other major tenant.

The Downtown Health Center, run by the non-profit Community Healthcare Network, has been a tenant in Essex Market Building A (at Stanton Street) for the last three years.  The full-service clinic, serving the Lower East Side since 1971, moved from a much smaller facility on Ludlow Street.

Next month, the organization and its landlord, the city’s Economic Development Corp., will go before CB3’s land use committee.  The clinic is seeking a new 10-year lease at 150 Essex Street. The community board is required to vote as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). This morning, we spoke with Elizabeth Howell, Community Healthcare’s vice president of development and public relations.  She told us the lease extension is a requirement of a $1.3 million federal grant the organization was recently awarded. The money will be used to expand and upgrade the current facilities.

None of the Essex Street Market buildings was part of the original Seward Park Urban Renewal project. But when CB3 began its deliberations three years ago, the EDC offered to fold the sites into the SPURA program. According to Kyle Sklerov, EDC spokesman, lease negotiations with Community Healthcare will follow ULURP approval. In a best case scenario, developers will begin to submit bids for the SPURA project sometime in the year 2013.

In a public presentation a couple of years ago, city officials listed three constraints to redeveloping the site (SPURA parcel #10): 1-“small size;” 2-“separated from site #8 by privately-owned property;” 3-“adjacent to subway limit.”  The new tenant in that privately owned building is, incidentally, “Beauty & Essex,” the hot Lower East Side nightlife destination of-the-moment.

On its web site, Community Healthcare Network says it “provides access to quality, culturally competent and comprehensive community-based primary care, mental health care and social services for diverse populations in underserved communities throughout New York City.”