Luxury Living Next to Public Housing: Extell’s Lower East Side Bet

A view of Extell's massive project at 250 South St. via @twobridgestower.

A view of Extell’s massive project at 250 South St. via @twobridgestower.

The New York Times is taking a look at the growing number of luxury developers willing to build projects alongside public housing, including in this neighborhood. From a piece in the real estate section:

More than a half-dozen developers have already planted their stakes near public housing in places including Red Hook in Brooklyn, the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Mott Haven in the South Bronx. In the hopes of securing cheaper land in a city where lots at any price are growing scarce, they are ignoring taboos against living near public housing and venturing into areas once considered unprepossessing and even dangerous.

One project highlighted in the story is Extell’s “One Manhattan Square”  an 80-story tower on the former Pathmark site at 250 South St. It’s surrounded by low-income housing, including the Rutgers Houses, a NYCHA development directly across the street. Among those interviewed is Victor Papa, longtime head of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, an affordable housing developer:

What has particularly upset residents is that to build One Manhattan Square, Extell bulldozed a Pathmark grocery store, at which time Pathmark’s pharmacy also closed. Though Gary Barnett, Extell’s president, said last year in a presentation to the community that the 45,000 square feet of retail space at One Manhattan Square will include a grocery and a pharmacy to replace what was lost, neighbors are skeptical, Mr. Papa said. There is also a sense of bewilderment that written-off areas may soon be hyped as cool. “This kind of development would have been unthinkable,” decades ago, Mr. Papa said. The area “wouldn’t have been good enough.”

But one real estate expert, appraiser Jonathan Miller, noted that people buying luxury condos don’t care as much about location as spectacular views from their living rooms. He suggested that Extell’s Lower East Side project might offer potential buyers apartments at $2500 sq. ft., a relative bargain compared with Midtown luxury towers.

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