Today the City announced the $1.1 billion plan for a large swath of land on the Lower East Side along Essex and Delancey Streets. The vision for the 1.65 million square-foot development, called Essex Crossing, includes 1,000 residential units, a 15,000 square-foot open space, a rooftop urban farm, a giant fitness center, a bowling alley, a grocery store, a dramatic expansion of the Essex Street Market, and, uh, an Andy Warhol Museum.
The Times reported yesterday that SHoP Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle beat out other firms for the winning design. If SHoP sounds familiar, it's because they designed the East River Esplanade, Barclays Center, and the 11 acre site for the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg. Beyer Blinder Belle completed projects at Grand Central Terminal and Ellis Island, among many others.
What would come of the land, referred to as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), has been hotly debated since 1967, when the City demolished a series of public housing buildings bordered by Delancey Street and Broome Street. Mainly at issue was the question of affordable housing. Half of the 1,000 units will be permanently affordable, with 100 of them being set aside for low- and moderate-income senior citizens. 20% of the condo units will be set aside for purchase by affordable to moderate-income households.
In contrast, only 660 of the 2,284 housing units slated to be built at the Domino Sugar Refinery site will be designated as affordable, and that's merely based on a handshake agreement.
"Affordable units" are defined as targeting households who earn "$31,700 to $133,000 per year for a family of four." According to a recent report by the Furman Center [PDF], the median household income in New York City is $50,433. That figure dropped 7% from 2007 to 2011.
We've asked the Mayor's Office and the New York City Economic Development Corporation how many affordable units will be targeted per income bracket (here are proposed figures from 2012) and will update with their response.
As for that improved Essex Street Market, it's worth quoting at length from the release:
The Essex Street Market will relocate across Delancey Street, doubling in size to approximately 30,000 square feet on the ground floor, plus a mezzanine of roughly 7,000 square feet. The new market, anticipated to open in 2018, will accommodate all the existing market vendors at the time of the move and provide room for new vendors in a range of sizes. The project will include an extensive assortment of retail and commercial uses, including the unique space to be known as the Market Line, on a concourse created through vaulted archways from the second floor through the cellar of the three sites south of Delancey between Essex and Clinton Streets.
The natural light-filled, continuous Market Line will include a variety of spaces, consisting of small- to medium-sized vendor stalls with tenants that include retail and food-oriented uses, a culinary incubator and a center dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurs to learn craft skills and produce and sell hand-made merchandise. In addition, approximately 40 micro-retail spaces will be developed in the Market Line. The project also includes a large grocery store, an amenity that was strongly urged by the community to fill a critical local need. Other than the grocery store, movie theater and fitness center, no retail space will be larger than 30,000 square feet—a key community priority.
Groundbreaking on the project is expected to begin in the spring of 2015, with five buildings slated to come up by the summer of 2018, the remaining housing units finished by 2021. The entire project will be finished by 2024—that is, unless a different mayor steps in.
Though this plan has the support of all the major elected officials in the area (Councilmember Chin, State Senator Squadron (who may be Public Advocate Squadron soon), CB 3, and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (who lives in 550 Grand Street), who knows what a Mayor de Blasio/Lhota might do? Or what will happen to the affordable housing when a Prosciutto Slicer runs for mayor in 2025?
Except for a passing mention, the release is silent regarding the (second) Andy Warhol Museum. We asked our friend David Lang, a writer who lives across the street from the proposed museum site on Ludlow in an ancient tenement with common hall bathrooms, what he thought of the plan.
"Andy Warhol Museum? Why? It sounds like a tourist trap," he replied, admitting that our phone call woke him up. "Actually, I guess it's the perfect complement to a tourist's day on Broome Street: They can go to the Tenement Museum, get coffee at Irving Farms, a vegan pastry at Babycakes, then look at some Andy Warhol."
[UPDATE] Courtesy of the NYCEDC and the NYC HDC, here is the breakdown of the 500 permanent, affordable housing units. AMI is the Annual Median Income determined by the HDC. You can see how they define that here.
40% Low income (divided between 37% and 57% AMI, not to exceed 60% AMI or $49k for a family of 4): 200 units
20% Moderate income: (divided between 80% and 110% AMI, not to exceed 110% AMI or $95,500 for a family of 4): 100 units
20% Middle income: (not to exceed 155% AMI / $133k for a family of 4): 100 units
14% Low-income Senior: 70 units @ 37% AMI (approx $22k for a 2-person household, or $25k for a 1-person household)
6% Moderate-income Senior: 30 units @ 80% AMI ($55k for a 2-person household, or $48k for a 1-person household)