A day after the city announced plans for Essex Crossing, the billion dollar project on the Seward Park site, there’s plenty of new information to pass along.
First of all, some clarification regarding the future of a community task force that helped the city select the development team for the large residential and commercial complex. The task force, appointed by Community Board 3, will meet quarterly with the development team. Its composition might change somewhat but many of the members previously involved will continue their roles. As construction gets underway — in the spring of 2015 — the developers will step up their outreach to the immediate community. There will be a website set up to keep residents informed regarding construction issues and a liaison will be appointed to communicate with the community board and the neighborhood as a whole.
The design team and city officials are likely to appear before Community Board 3’s land use committee next month to fill in details of their plan. There are lots of unanswered questions; the development firms only found out Monday they’d been chosen to build the Seward Park project. We’re told no firm decisions have been made about many commercial tenants. While the mayor’s press release indicated yesterday that Essex Crossing would include a large grocery store, city planning officials say discussions are ongoing with several “full service grocery operators.”
Also, we have some additional information about the new Essex Street Market and the “Market Line,” a concourse running along Delancey from Essex Street to Clinton Street. The Essex Market will be 30,000 square feet (double the size of the current facility) on the ground level of a building on the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey streets. It will also include a 7,000 square foot mezzanine, which will be used for seating, bathrooms and an event space/demonstration kitchen.
The Market Line, which will sit partially below ground level and feature skylights, is a 90,000 square foot space. It will include 40 “micro-stalls” designed for start-ups; the developers are creating a special fund to support these businesses. There will also be a culinary incubator and a training center where people can learn craft skills; it’s a Brooklyn import called 3rd Ward. Among the many retail ventures will be a group of vendors curated by the creators of the Brooklyn Flea.
Yesterday, some readers were asking about the construction timetable. The mayor’s press release noted:
The anticipated groundbreaking for the project is spring 2015. The first five buildings (all of the sites south of Delancey except the two adjacent sites between Norfolk and Clinton Streets) consisting of 580 units of housing, including 316 permanently affordable units, are anticipated to be completed by Summer 2018. The next two buildings (the remaining parcels south of Delancey, and the parcel located just north of Rivington Street on Essex Street), including the majority of the remaining housing, are anticipated to be completed by summer 2021, and the final two buildings (the remaining parcels north of Delancey Street) are anticipated to be completed by 2022 and 2024.
We asked the city’s Economic Development Corp. for clarification. The plan, a spokesperson explained, is to begin with sites 1,2,5 and 6. Sites 3 and 4, we’re told, are the “remaining parcels” referenced in the press release. The idea is to build a significant amount of housing, including affordable housing, early in the project. In practical terms, there’s no way to build simultaneously on all nine sites. The first wave of building will “include over half of the affordable housing, the new Essex Street Market and the public open space.”
Finally, the LES Business Improvement District is out with a statement today concerning Essex Crossing. Here’s an excerpt:
…The consensus program for these sites forged over many years with the leadership of Community Board 3 and Council Member Margaret Chin formed the foundation for Essex Crossing, a project that will act as an economic engine not only for the Lower East Side, but also for the surrounding communities of the East Village and Chinatown. Essex Crossing will drastically increase daytime foot traffic by bringing 250,000 square feet of commercial office space to our community. The LES BID has long advocated for the inclusion of office space for the “creative class” within this transformative project. The addition of thousands of workers on the Lower East Side ensures the sustained growth of surrounding merchants while supporting a diverse retail mix… “We look forward to working with the Essex Crossing team to ensure that the Lower East Side continues to be one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in New York City to shop, work and live”, said Michael Forrest, LES BID President. He continued, “The substantial investment that L+M, BFC and Taconic will make in our community is a game changer and ensures a positive trajectory of economic growth for years to come.”