NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED.
By the fall, the first phase of the Essex Crossing project in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) will be mostly completed. So it’s a good time to look back on the long and turbulent history of the Lower East Side development sites. A few organizations are coming together to do just that on Saturday Aug. 4.
“Imagining the LES Block Party” will take place from 5-10 p.m. on Norfolk Street (between Grand and Broome streets). Have a look at the Facebook invite:
SPARC (Seward Park Area Redevelopment Coalition), Below the Grid Lab and The Illuminator will host Imagining the LES Block Party, a day of activities to celebrate the past, present, and future of the SPURA community (now renamed Essex Crossing). Fifty years ago a vibrant community of multi-racial/ethnic residents and the tenement buildings they inhabited was destroyed by Urban Renewal. Now a new community of mixed income buildings–including 500 affordable apartments–is rising from these empty lots. Today’s event attempts to begin to knit together the old and new and imagine a strong vision of a more equitable and just neighborhood… There will be food, music and activities including: an interactive historical walking tour featuring former residents of SPURA; chalking on the sidewalks; painting of banners; oral history interviews; and dance & theatre performances from local arts organizations. The day will culminate in a series of large projections by artist collective The Illuminator that will feature historic photos of the neighborhood and its people, and raise questions to engage attendees in conversation: “How do we honor the past with a more just future?,” “How do we bring together the old and the new?,” and “How do we imagine a truly equal city?” This exciting and vibrant day is the official launch of the SPURA Living History Project, an initiative of SPARC and Below the Grid Lab to raise the profile of this complex history, inspire a new integrated present and future, and with it a new generation of activists and organizers who will carry the legacy of the Lower East Side into the next fifty years!
Photo from the Market Line’s Instagram.
A little more local flavor for the Market Line, the big retail pavilion that’s part of the Essex Crossing project.
Via Instagram yesterday, we learned that longtime Lower East Side/Chinatown favorite Pho Grand is joining the subterranean retail bazaar. After years in operation at 277 Grand St., owners Benny and Mick Chen have decided to open a second location of their Vietnamese restaurant in the Market Line.
Back in 2011, JP Bowersock checked out Pho Grand for The Lo-Down, calling the “Chinese-Viet diner” a “charming and inexpensive” LES mainstay.
Previously announced local Market Line vendors include the Pickle Guys, the Doughnut Plant, Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Essex Pearl (a new project from Aqua Best seafood market in Chinatown). The first segment of the shopping complex will open later this year at 115 Delancey St.
Here’s a photo from Alan LeNoble showing the dismantling of a construction hoist at 115 Delancey St. That’s one of the Essex Crossing towers. There’s a huge mobile crane positioned in the northbound lane of Essex Street. It is supposed to be there through the weekend.
Here’s another photo we snapped a short time ago:
The Market Line. Rendering by SHoP Architects.
At tonight’s meeting of Community Board 3’s State Liquor Authority Committee, we should find out some new details about the Market Line, a centerpiece of the big Essex Crossing project. Several vendors in the subterranean shopping pavilion are going for liquor licenses (beer & wine only).
Here’s what we know based on documents already filed with CB3.
Contra masterminds Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra will outline their plans for Cubmare, a small plates/wine bar. Food items on a preliminary menu include oysters, cured meats, marinated anchovies, fluke crudo, etc. Stone and Von Hauske Valtierra have found great success with Contra, their flagship restaurant on Orchard Street, as well as Wildair and Una Pizza Napoletano.
Schaller & Weber, the Upper East Side-based purveyor of sausages and German-style smoked meats, is also seeking a beer and wine permit. On the Lower East Side, they will be serving up brats, sliced knackwurst, sausage platters and, of course, German beers.
Essex Pearl, from the owners of Aqua Best in Chinatown, is also on CB3’s agenda for a seafood counter and restaurant. The family-run business will have three tables and a counter for 28 customers. There will be a raw bar, plus lunch and dinner service.
The local institution, Veselka, plans a scaled-down version of its Second Avenue restaurant. The menu at the Market Line includes some of the Ukrainian coffee shop’s standbys, including pierogi, borscht, kielbasa and stuffed cabbage. There will be one large table with 10 seats, and a bar with 5 seats.
Also seeking permits are Kuro-Obi, the latest project from ramen specialist Ippudo; and Tortilleria Nixtamal, an outpost from the Queens-based Mexican restaurant.
The Market Line will eventually stretch across three buildings on Broome Street. The first segment opens later this year beneath a newly expanded Essex Street Market. The initial phase of the facility will feature about 70 vendors. Only a few operators have been publicly announced.
Tonight’s meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. at Perseverance House Community Room, 535 East 5th St. See the full agenda here.
Starting next month, you will be able to visit a doctor at NYU Langone’s new outpatient medical center at Essex Crossing. More than a dozen specialists will be on hand July 2 for the opening of the Joan H. and Preston Robert Tisch Center. An ambulatory care center, including four operating rooms, is scheduled to open in the fall.
The 55,000 square foot facility is located at 171 Delancey St., at Clinton St. When it’s fully operational, the center will span three floors and include 30 exam rooms. There will be a foot and ankle care center and a women’s sports medicine center.
“We’re thrilled to bring this new, comprehensive network of clinical services to the Lower East Side, one of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods, but one with many pressing needs for access to the highest quality medical care,” said Andrew Rubin, vice president for clinical affairs and ambulatory care at NYU Langone Health. “We always look at where our patients live and work, and this location provides a convenient alternative not only in the immediate area, but also for those located in the Financial District and Williamsburg.”
Upon opening, specialists will be available for primary care, cardiology, orthopedics, sports medicine, podiatry and addiction medicine. Starting in August, spine surgery and rheumatology services will be added. NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation will begin offering services in the fall. When fully functional, the center will also feature other specialties, including gynecology, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) and plastic surgery. There will be on-site diagnostic services like lab testing, X-ray imaging, and cardiology and vascular studies.
For more information about the Joan H. and Preston Robert Tisch Center, click here.
Target announced today a grand opening date for its new location at Essex Crossing. The 22,500 square foot “small format” store at 400 Grand St. (also known as 145 Clinton St.) will debut on Sunday, Aug. 19.
Also today, Target put the word out about several job fairs to be held this month in the community. The company expects to hire 85 employees for the Lower East Side outpost, which will be located on the second floor of a residential building called The Rollins. The employment events will be held June 11,12, 14 and 18 and, we’re told, are being coordinated in partnership with Delancey Street Associates (the Essex Crossing development group) and the Lower East Side Employment Network.
Anyone interested in applying, should visit Target’s employment page to make an appointment for an interview in advance. [Applicants should indicate that they’re specifically interested in jobs at 400 Grand St., Manhattan).
The store will be the fifth Target location in Manhattan and is part of a nationwide push into major urban markets. The Lower East Side Target will, according to a press release, offer a “curated assortment, including men’s and women’s apparel and accessories, baby essentials, toys, basics for the family, home décor, health and beauty products, electronics, tech accessories, and a food and beverage selection that includes fresh produce and grab-and-go items.” There’s also going to be a CVS Pharmacy in the store.
Target has 27 stores open or in the planning stages in New York City. Just today a new store was announced in Brooklyn. A store will open in July on East 14th Street (Avenue A).
The Rollins, a 14-story tower, will also include a Trader Joe’s store, which is likely to open in the early fall. There are 211 rental apartments in the building, half low/middle income and half market rate. All of the affordable apartments were claimed through a city-sponsored housing lottery. Last week, Delancey Street Associates announced that more than 65% of the market rate units have been leased.
Essex Crossing is spread across nine sites, and includes 1,9 million square feet of residential and commercial development.
171 Delancey St.
If you have walked by the intersection of Delancey and Clinton streets in the past few days, you probably noticed signage for NYU Langone’s new medical facility at Essex Crossing. It’s not accepting patients just yet, but you can expect a partial opening in the next few weeks.
The Joan H. and Preston Robert Tisch Center is taking 55,000 square feet at 171 Delancey St. The building also includes senior housing and a senior center run by Grand Street Settlement. A spokesperson for NYU Langone tells us today that physician practices will open during the summer. Ambulatory surgery services won’t be available until the fall.
Public filings by NYU Langone indicate there will be four operating rooms in the Lower East Side center, as well as a physical therapy facility. The entrance to the medical center is on Delancey Street.
By the end of this year, the first phase of the Essex Crossing project will be complete. It includes a new home for the Essex Street Market, a large shopping pavilion called the Market Line, a 14-screen movie theater, a Trader Joe’s & Target store, as well as mixed-income housing.
The Market Line. Rendering by SHoP Architects.
Four more vendors have been announced for the Market Line, a new subterranean shopping pavilion that’s part of the Essex Crossing project.
Two of the new operators — the Pickle Guys and the Doughnut Plant — are among the best known retail brands on the Lower East Side. The others are Castania Nut Boutique, a Lebanese roasting and packaging company, and Substance Vitality Bar, which got its start in Dallas and has one other Manhattan location.
It also came out today that Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra of the restaurants Contra and Wildair are planning a wine/beer concept at the Market Line. According to Eater, they have declined to offer any details in advance of a Community Board 3 hearing in June.
The first part of the Market Line will open in the fall beneath a newly expanded Essex Street Market at 115 Delancey St. The developers are calling the 150,000 square foot space the largest market of its kind in New York City. When complete, it will feature food, art, music and fashion “retailers that embody the character and culture of the LES.” Previously announced vendors include: Cafe Grumpy, Ends Meat, Essex Pearl, Kuro-Obi by Ippudo, Nom Wah, Pilot Kombucha, Schaller & Weber, Tortillería Nixtamal and Veselka.
Alan Kaufman of the Pickle Guys moved his shop from a smaller space on Essex Street to 357 Grand St. last year. The store, a mainstay in the neighborhood for more than 15 years, is the last remaining pickle retail purveyor on the Lower East Side. Mark Israel’s Doughnut Plant is located in the same retail strip on Grand Street. He started the business from the basement of a LES tenement in 1994. Castania Nut Boutique was founded in 1985; its store at the Market Line will be the first outpost in the U.S. Substance Vitality Bar offers cold-pressed juices, açai bowls, smoothies and “protein bites,” including vegan, gluten free and dairy free edible cookie dough.
Essex Crossing’s developers were honored at the Essex Street Market Block Part held May 19, 2018.
It was pretty much a washout Saturday at the Essex Street Market’s annual Block Party, but merchants and customers alike braved the elements and made the best of it.
The Vendor Association also looked ahead to the future. In a few months, the 78-year-old public market will be moving across the street to an expanded facility in the Essex Crossing project. At this past weekend’s event, Vendor Association President Anne Saxelby dedicated this year’s block party to Delancey Street Associates, the consortium building Essex Crossing. Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M Development Partners; Charlie Bendit, co-CEO of Taconic Investment Partners; and Isaac Henderson, Essex Crossing’s project manager were on hand to accept awards.
As part of the developers’ agreement with the city, they are building the new market and paying moving expenses for all of the vendors. Saxelby thanked them, as well as the city’s Economic Development Corp. (which runs the market) and Community Board 3 for working to make the new market happen. “When we first learned of the Essex Crossing project back in 2013,” said Saxelby, “we as vendors were really concerned because we didn’t know what our fate would be. Thanks to the work of the EDC, CB3 and Delancey Street Associates we have a beautiful new market, and all of the current vendors will be moving over, plus 14 new vendors.”
Also attending Saturday’s rainy party were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin.
At one point, Chin ducked inside the market to pick up a few items at one of the newer stalls, Essex Olive & Spice House. In her public remarks, she said, “The new market will be gorgeous and wonderful,” said Chin, “but there are a lot of new vendors in the market right now, so please check it out. I did. It’s just wonderful to celebrate the history of the market and also to celebrate the neighborhood.”
The EDC, Vendor Association and Lower East Side Partnership have been sponsoring the block party during the past few years as a way to boost awareness of the market, which has struggled to attract foot traffic. The new market will be located at 115 Delancey St., just across from the current building.
Thanks to Robert Cordero, Grand Street Settlement’s executive director, who sent along this overhead view of Essex Crossing Site 5. Workers this week have been installing trees inside a 15,000 square foot park that’s going to be part of the big development project.
The Broome Street park, designed by West 8, will be publicly accessible, open from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Here’s the somewhat overwrought description on West 8’s website:
With a few simple moves, the Park at Essex Crossing delivers a calm, verdant, island within the urban fabric. An entirely native palette of trees and groundcovers are located in raised planters around a central open plaza. Picking up on the Lower East Side’s history of beloved urban gardens, the Park design layers canopy and understory trees, swaths of woodland planting, and vine-covered vertical plantings to create a woodland garden in the city. Meandering geometries and an oblong central gathering area gives the illusion and opportunities of a larger park, while also offering flexibility for small events and performances to occur simultaneously. At the southwest of the site, younger visitors will discover a child-sized ravine to explore and climb, with challenging rope crossings allowing for boundless exploration and interactive play. Multifunctional planter edges offer seating throughout the park, with robust wooden details that are both comfortable and offer a soft antidote to the typical glass and steel of the city. A community table area at the Broome Street edge offers seating for larger groups or the opportunity for families to sit gather a table in the Park.
Photos ny NYC EDC.
The new Essex Street Market is starting to look like, well, a market. The Economic Development Corp. (EDC) has just made some construction photos available, as well as new renderings.
If all goes according to plan, the vendors of the historic Lower East Side institution will move into the new space in the fall. The expanded facility at 115 Delancey St. is part of the Essex Crossing project. Here’s a look:
The 26 existing merchants will be joined by 11 new vendors, a handful of which have already been announced. There will also be two new full-service restaurants and a demonstration kitchen on the second floor. In the past, EDC officials have said they’ll be paying homage to the 78-year-old facility with some historic flourishes. Designers. for example, have been refurbishing the old “Orchard Essex Meat Market” sign that hung in the Essex Street Market building that was torn down on this site.
The new market will be part of a 26-story tower on the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey streets. The current market will remain open until the move happens, supposedly in about three to four months.
Essex Street market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by SHoP Architects.
Essex Street Market rendering by SHoP Architects.
Rendering by Delancey Street Associates.
International Center of Photography at Essex Crossing. Rendering by Moso Studio.
The acclaimed restaurateurs, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, will be opening a private event space on the top floors of the International Center of Photography’s new museum. The announcement came yesterday from Delancey Street Associates, the developers of Essex Crossing. ICP is opening the museum on Essex Street in 2019 as part of the big Lower East Side project.
In addition to Eleven Madison Park, Guidara and Humm’s Make It Nice hospitality group runs the restaurants at The NoMad hotels in New York and Los Angeles. In a statement, Guidara said:
The opportunity to now create a space designed specifically to offer the best events possible is very exciting –and to do that in collaboration with the storied institution that is the International Center of Photography is particularly thrilling. We’re excited to welcome guests into the beautiful, new location and to host a variety of events there – from cocktail parties to formal sit-down dinners, weddings and more.
In October of last year, ICP announced it would be moving the institution’s museum and school to Essex Crossing. The museum will occupy a four-story building that runs straight through between Essex and Ludlow streets. ICP will also occupy two floors of 242 Broome St., an adjacent condo/commercial building.
Just yesterday, we reported that the Gutter, a Brooklyn-based bowling alley, will be taking a 17,000 square foot space in the basement of 242 Broome.
242 Broome St.
A few months before the first phase of Essex Crossing makes its debut, there’s been a change in one of the big commercial tenants coming to the mega-project. A Florida-based bowling concept, Splitsville Lanes, will be replaced by the Gutter, a home-grown bowling alley.
Back in 2015, Delancey Street Associates (the group building Essex Crossing) announced that Splitsville Lanes would be taking 17,000 square feet on the lower level of 242 Broome St. In an interview yesterday, Andrew Katz of the Prusik Group (one of the development partners) explained the reasons for the switch from one operator to another.
Splitsville Lanes, selected for the project after a nationwide search, had never done business in New York City. At some point, the owners of the company came to the developers to ask about taking on a partner with local experience. Delancey Street Associates was open to the idea, said Katz. In the process of locating the right NYC-based partner, the development team got to know the owners of the Gutter, which operates bowling alleys in Williamsburg/Greenpoint and Long Island City. Splitsville Lanes ultimately dropped out of Essex Crossing, with the Gutter taking over the Lower East Side space.
Image via the Gutter’s website.
In the end, it was probably for the best. The Gutter opened on North 14th Street in 2007, cultivating an old school vibe. As the New York Times noted a few years ago, the venue presents “itself as a cheaper and lower-key alternative to Brooklyn Bowl, its higher-profile neighbor around the corner.” In 2014, Gothamist called the Gutter one of the eight best bowling alleys in the city, praising its “elegant, old school lanes, classic bar and vintage decor.” The existing locations, said Katz, have “a cool, homey feel.” That might be a little harder to replicate in a shiny new real estate project on the Lower East Side, but the owners definitely know New York nightlife.
The entrance to the Gutter will be on Essex Street. Customers will walk into a 500 square foot lobby leading to the main space in the basement. While there are live bands at the Brooklyn original, Katz said the Lower East Side spot will not be a concert venue (there might be live bands from time-to-time). There will be 12 lanes.
Drinks and food will be served (think typical bowling alley grub, not high-end cuisine). The bowling alley is expected to open before the end of this year. We have reached out to co-owner Todd Powers, but haven’t been able to connect just yet.
242 Broome St. also includes 55 condominium apartments, and a new home for the International Center of Photography (ICP won’t open at Essex Crossing until 2019). There’s about 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, most of which likely won’t be leased until the building is officially opened in the summer/fall.
UPDATE 4/17 This morning we talked with Todd Powers, who owns the Gutter with Drew DeWitt. They already have preliminary drawings, and an architect is working on more formal designs. Powers said the idea is to play off the subterranean space, giving it a Mid-America/Mid-Century basement feel.
The all-wood lanes, like the Gutter’s other locations, will be sourced from a shuttered bowling alley (the ones in Brooklyn came from Iowa). The place will still feel homey, said Powers, but it will have a bit more polish than the existing venues.
The plan is to serve Neapolitan-style pizza. There will be a full-scale restaurant/kitchen setup. While some live acoustic music is envisioned, the Gutter on the Lower East Side is not meant to be a performance venue. Powers said the build-out will take five or six months once the Department of Buildings signs off on the plans. He’s hoping for a November opening.
Essex Crossing Site 3, 202 Broome St. Rendering by Moso Studio.
The developers of Essex Crossing announced today that they’ve locked in $260 million in financing for a 14-story mixed-use building at 202 Broome St. This means the mega-project in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area has secured 90% of its total financing.
The acquisition and construction loan was provided by Square Mile Capital Management. The building on site 3 of Essex Crossing will include 83 luxury condo units and 175,000 square feet of office space. This part of the project will also include a section of the Market Line, an underground retail pavilion stretching across three blocks. The building features about 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail, as well. The site 3 architect is CetraRuddy. Completion is expected in 2021.
The first phase of Essex Crossing on the initial four sites is nearly complete. A low-income senior building is already fully occupied, and leasing is ongoing for a second rental building at 145 Clinton St. A Trader Joe’s. Target, a medical center from NYU Langone, a 14-screen Regal movie theater and a new Essex Street Market will be opening throughout the summer and fall.
In the second phase of construction, sites 3 and 4 will add a total of 350,000 square feet of office space. The developers have not yet announced those commercial tenants.
Delancey Street Associates, the development consortium, is made up of BFC Partners, L+M Development Partners, Taconic Investment Partners and Goldman Sachs. The development costs have climbed to $1.5 billion, from $1.1 billion, when the project was first unveiled in 2013.
In the Post on Sunday, there was a piece from Steve Cuozzo that carried the headline, “The world’s hottest shopping city is becoming a ghost town.” He noted that major commercial corridors throughout the city are littered with vacant storefronts, and challenged the conventional wisdom from the real estate industry that the current retail slump is only temporary. “Bricks-and-mortar retail is shrinking so swiftly and on such a wide scale,” Cuozzo wrote, “it’s going to require big changes in how we plan our new buildings and our cities — although nobody wants to admit it.”
On the Lower East Side, as in much of the city, commercial blocks are filled with rental signs. The photos posted above were all taken during a short stroll down Clinton Street yesterday afternoon. These aren’t even all of the empty storefronts on the stretch between Delancey Street and East Houston Street — only a sampling. Just this past week, another retailer, Scumbags & Superstars, called it quits.
We’re all familiar with the forces battering both independent retail and large corporate stores. The Post points out that online shopping now accounts for more than 9% of all national sales. Then there are rising rents, and spiraling property taxes, which are passed on to beleaguered commercial tenants. In this neighborhood, there’s another factor: low foot traffic during daytime hours.
In a followup on Monday, Cuozzo zeroed in on another piece of the retail puzzle: the many new mega-projects under construction throughout New York. “Some 1.2 million square feet of newly minted retail space,” he reported, “are coming to the Manhattan leasing market at three major new developments — Hudson Yards, Manhattan West and Essex Crossing — even as vacant stores blight almost every part of Manhattan.” According to the story, developers are relatively unconcerned about having to lease so much new retail space.
Target is opening a new store at Essex Crossing.
Since Essex Crossing was mentioned, let’s take a look at how leasing has gone in the huge Lower East Side project.
The mixed-use (residential, commercial, community) complex at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge includes 400,000 square feet of retail across nine development sites. Many of the anchor tenants have been under contract for months, if not years. They include: Regal Cinemas (65,000 sf), Trader Joe’s (30,000 sf), Target (22,500 sf) and Splitsville Lanes (17,000 square feet). Then there’s an expanded Essex Street Market (30,000 sf), which factored into the project from the very beginning. Taken together, more than 165,000 square feet of retail is already accounted for.
On top of these spaces, Essex Crossing includes the Market Line, a 120,000 square foot underground shopping pavilion. The first of three sections of that facility will open later this year with about 70 small vendors. Only a few of them have been publicly announced.
But assuming the team at Delancey Street Associates (the development consortium) fills out the Market Line, they will only have another 100,000 square feet of retail left to lease. Essex Crossing isn’t scheduled for completion until the year 2024.
The bigger question on the Lower East Side is what impact all of the new retail will have on existing small businesses and commercial spaces. If Essex Crossing draws a lot of new shoppers to the neighborhood, all retailers could benefit. But what if the project doesn’t become a shopping magnet? What if the big corporate stores such as Target and Trader Joe’s simply pull customers away from smaller merchants? We’re not going to have answers to these questions until Essex Crossing is open for business in a few months. Some neighborhood leaders are hopeful that other aspects of the project will help lift the fortunes of all businesses. At the top of the list: 350,000 square feet of office space spread across two buildings on Delancey Street. More office workers would mean more daytime street activity and, potentially, more customers.
On Sunday, Cuozzo concluded by arguing that it’s time for the city to rein in retail in new buildings:
We can still avoid becoming a retail ghost town like many of the country’s malls. But to increase demand for our dark storefronts, the city must roll back zoning rules in some neighborhoods that require even more retail in new buildings whether there’s demand for them or not. We should discourage the inclusion of acres of retail in giant new complexes that only add to the glut. Otherwise, the whole town will look like Broadway in the ’50s — a corridor of salad bars and dark windows.