Breaking: Trader Joe’s is Coming to Essex Crossing

Preliminary rendering.

Preliminary rendering.

It’s been a hotly debated question for years now: which grocery store chain is going to end up at Essex Crossing? This morning, the speculation has ended. Trader Joe’s is taking a corner space at 145 Clinton St., site 5 of the large residential and commercial project.

The announcement came a short time ago in separate news releases from the grocery’s communications department and the city’s Economic Development Corp. While the square footage was not announced (Trader Joe’s is notoriously secretive), developers had set aside 30,000 square feet for the grocery store. It will be located in the basement of the 15-story residential/commercial building.

If the quirky California-based chain takes all of that space, it will be one of the company’s larger New York stores. Trader Joe’s currently has Manhattan locations near Union Square, in Chelsea, on the Upper West Side and on East 32nd Street. A second Upper West Side location is in-the-works. This past spring, there was talk of a Trader Joe’s coming to Extell Development’s new 14th Street project, near Avenue B.

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Trader Joe’s, Union Square. Photo: Spoon University.

The building at the intersection of Grand and Clinton streets is also set to include a 22,000 square foot Planet Fitness on the second floor. Construction is expected to be finished in mid-2018. The first phase of Essex Crossing also includes a 14-screen Regal movie theater, a Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling alley, a new home for the Essex Street Market, the Market Line shops and a medical center from NYU Langone.

During a community planning process several years ago, local residents said a full-service grocery store was a high priority on the former Seward Park urban renewal site.

Essex Crossing is being built by Delancey Street Associates, a joint venture of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners. In a statement, Andrew Katz of the Prusik Group, part of the development team, noted that a commitment was made to fulfill the community’s desire for an affordable grocery. Katz said, “We’re thrilled to deliver on that promise today.”

Figuring out the right mix in Essex Crossing’s commercial spaces is critical. There is some concern in the community that a conventional grocery store might hurt the vendors at the Essex Street Market. Trader Joe’s is less likely to compete with the specialty food purveyors in the historic market, which is moving to a new 30,000 square foot space on the southeastern corner of Essex and Delancey streets.

Trader Joe’s is known for its good prices on high quality gourmet items packaged under the store’s own label. As the company’s press materials boasted, “every item in the store has its own virtues, like high quality ingredients, great flavor, or simply an extraordinary price.” About a dozen new items are introduced each month.

EDC President Maria Torres-Springer said, “Bringing Trader Joe’s to Essex Crossing will help provide families across the Lower East Side with quality, fresh food options in their neighborhood… Increasing food access is yet another way the Essex Crossing project meets the needs of current and future residents, ensuring that this long-anticipated project strengthens the Lower East Side community as a whole.”

The news release also included statements of support from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council member Margaret Chin and Community Board 3 Chair Jamie Rogers. “Trader Joe’s will be a welcome amenity to Lower East Side residents,” said Rogers. “It is an affordable, high quality neighborhood grocery store that meets the CB3’s Guiding Principles for Essex Crossing of providing a diversity of goods at diverse price points. Previous reports of attempts to have Trader Joes expand within Community Board 3 were met with enthusiasm by the community. They will be very happy to hear that we have a firm commitment of Trader Joe’s at Essex Crossing.”

The neighborhood lost a Pathmark store on Cherry Street in 2012 when Extell Development bought the site for it’s 80-story mega tower. A grocery store is expected to be part of that project when it is finished in 2019. There’s a Fine Fare supermarket directly across the street from Essex Crossing site 5.

Trader Joe’s has more than 450 stores across the country.