A few updates this morning concerning Essex Crossing, the 1.9 million square foot mixed-use project coming to the former Seward Park urban renewal area.
As the development team cobbles together the financing for the big complex, they will go before the city’s Housing Development Corp. (HDC) today to request the use of tax exempt bonds to help pay for the construction of Essex Crossing, which includes one-thousand mixed-income apartments. The proposal encompasses two of the nine sites that make up the project.
On site 2, located at 115 Delancey St./80 Essex St., the developers are seeking $71 million in tax exempt bonds to build 195 apartments (98 of them affordable). On site 5, 145-155 Clinton St., they’re asking for $74 million in bond financing for the construction of 211 apartments (102 of them affordable).
Today’s meeting is a public hearing. Among those expected to testify are members of several labor unions. On Friday, we received a news advisory from the “Concrete Industry Coalition,” which includes ironworkers, carpenters, laborers and Teamsters, announcing a demonstration outside the Housing Development Corp. offices at 110 William St. “Protestors will demand HDC withhold $145 million in tax exempt bond financing,” the advisory read, unless the developers “agree to hire responsible contractors” at Essex Crossing. The coalition noted that Community Board 3’s priorities for the project, which were incorporated into the Request for Proposals (RFP), advocated for “prevailing wage rates” to be paid to construction workers on the project. The memo singled out two of three members of the development consortium, L+M Development Partners and BFC Partners, for labor practices on previous construction projects. We’ll have more about the labor issues surrounding Essex Crossing later today or tomorrow.
In other news related to the Seward Park development initiative, it appears the timetable for groundbreaking is sliding. Delancey Street Associates, the development consortium, was hoping to start the first phase this coming March. While they have not announced anything officially, a member of the development team told a community board panel last week that construction on a park slated for site 5 would likely begin in the summer, rather than the spring. At another CB3 meeting this month, members of a community task force working with the developers spoke about the delay, indicating that the time frame was likely shifting by at least a few weeks. The project manager, Isaac Henderson, told us that final renderings of the first four buildings would likely not be ready for a public unveiling until next month or, possibly, in January.
Demolition of buildings on two parcels, however, can be expected in the near future. Henderson said work will begin next month to take down the Essex Street Market building on the south side of Delancey Street as well as the old fire station at 185 Broome St. The exact timing is not set just yet because the developers must meet a variety of Buildings Department requirements before commencing demolition. Two tenements at 400 Grand St. will be dismantled at a later date. City officials are still in negotiations with some of the residential tenants, who have been trying to find new homes. Last week, CB3’s land use committee approved a resolution (the latest of many) urging city officials to honor commitments to help relocate the residents. Eviction notices were sent to tenants ordering them out of the building by the end of October.
A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which controls the buildings, said the goal is have the remaining residents relocated by the beginning of next month. There are also two commercial tenants remaining on site 5. The spokesperson said the owner of a shoe store repair store at 400 Grand St. has signed an agreement requiring him to close by November 30. The operators of Suffolk Parking have also been notified that they must vacate the site. The city is in negotiations with their attorney on an exact date.
Finally, the developers unveiled final plans for the Broome Street park last week. We have a separate story about that here.
In addition to the one-thousand units of housing, Essex Crossing includes 600,000 square feet of commercial space, a new Essex Street Market, a 14-screen movie theater, a rooftop urban farm and an annex of the Andy Warhol Museum.