Seward Park Site Tenants Prepare to Clear Out For Essex Crossing
The end of the month is nearly upon us. For several longtime Lower East Side businesses, the arrival of July this coming Tuesday, represents the end of an era. As developers rush to complete plans for the Essex Crossing mixed-use project on the former Seward Park urban renewal lots, these establishments are preparing to clear out.
As previously reported, the first phase of the nearly 2-million square foot project will be focused on three parcels: sites 1, 2 and 5. Construction is expected to begin next spring.
In preparation for demolition of existing buildings, city officials have notified three businesses and one non-profit organization that they must vacate properties by next week. They include the Olympic Restaurant (115 Delancey St.) and Jade Fountain Liquors (123 Delancey St.), the only two tenants in the mostly vacant Essex Street Market building on the south side of Delancey Street.
Two years ago, Olympic Restaurant co-owner Spiros Nakos told us he was not all that concerned, even though the diner had been on a month-to-month lease. In his 33 (now 35) years in business, Nakos witnessed numerous redevelopment plans fizzle, so he was taking a “wait-and-see” approach. Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY first reported the restaurant’s fate in May. Last week, EV Grieve had the news that Nakos and his partner, Steve Palakas, were going to court in an effort to stay open a few more months. But staff this week say the plan is now to close after Monday. And we’re told by officials at the NYC Economic Development Corp., which controls the site, that the tenants agreed back in April to vacate their spaces by the end of the month. In the case of the Olympic Restaurant, a city spokesperson said, the owners were given extra time, until the middle of next month, to remove kitchen equipment and restaurant supplies.
At 400 Grand St., the looming Essex Crossing development project will displace six families living on the upper floors, as well as the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy’s Visitor Center and a shoe repair shop. The proprietor of “Express Shoe Repairs,” an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, has not opened the store in the past few days. A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the site owner, said the agency would soon be scheduling a meeting with the business to discuss move-out details.
Yesterday a moving company was on the scene removing items from one of the apartments at 400 Grand St. The city has been in negotiations with other residential tenants regarding re-location, a protracted process that’s been the subject of several contentious community board committee meetings in the past few years.
The Jewish Conservancy opened the visitor center in 2011, and is now looking for an alternative space in partnership with other neighborhood groups, including the LES Business Improvement District. The organization, established in 1998, will continue to operate all of its programs, including a series of local tours.
On the same parcel, site #5, Suffolk Parking may have a bit more time. Earlier this week, we spoke with owner Marci Schochet, who said she hasn’t heard anything from the city about the parking facility’s fate. Her husband, Harold, ran the lot for many years before passing away a few months ago. Schochet said Suffolk Parking has been in her husband’s family for decades.
This past spring, we reported that the developers had filed pre-demolition documents for another building location on site #5, the old fire house at 185 Broome St. Built in 1937, it had been used in recent years by a film props business.
The initial phase of Essex Crossing will include both market rate and affordable apartments, a new Essex Street Market, a grocery store, a branch of the Andy Warhol Museum and a small park. Demolition is expected later this year. The developers are planning to unveil final architectural drawings in the fall.