Essex Crossing: SPURA's New Shape

Essex Crossing is a combined residential-retail space in the making.  Expected to cover the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, the $1.1 billion megaproject will sit across 1.65 million square feet, replacing the current scene of parking lots and fewer tenement buildings with a grander, glassy-sleek cityscape.  Architectural firms SHoP Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle, and Handel Architects have been tapped to raise the long-neglected area.  

Among the planned landmarks is an Andy Warhol museum, a 15,000 square foot park, bowling alley, and an urban farm.  A new Essex Street Market, which is planned to double the size of the current space, is still planned to be city-owned and NYCEDC-operated, and rents will be appropriate to rents at the time.  This would in addition to the Market Line, a slightly underground corridor with smaller vendors, which Smorgasburg is slated to be a part.  1,000 residential units are also included in the plans.  Overall, the current renderings portray a very modern neighborhood that would be an aesthetic overhaul for the area.

To be sure, there has been some concern for the existing residents, particularly with regards for current businesses and residents.  Displacement has been a quickly growing concern for the Lower East Side, as it correlates with an increase in the market price of housing.  Consequently, a community task force has been assigned the responsibility of meeting with developers on a quarterly basis.  Additionally, Community Board 3 appointed Ricky Leung, tenant activist and architect, to advise the developers.  Residential buildings however, are still expected to cover low to middle-income levels, and even makes particular note for seniors.  

From the outset, the project is expected to generate 6000 new jobs - most in construction, and others permanent.  Additionally, developers intimated their avoidance of big box retailers, having expressed their own interest in local businesses for the new development.  Andrew Katz of the Prusik Group, one of the Essex Crossing's developers, assuaged concerns, saying, "Our principal tenet of developing retail is that you focus on the community that you're developing retail within.  When we looked at this site, we were very lucky because we had a (community) task force that had outlined what they wanted to see."  Construction is projected to begin in Spring 2015, with the first buildings opening in 2018, and the whole neighborhood wrapped up by 2023.