The fate of six acres of vacant land at the corner of Delancey and Essex was finally revealed today. City officials and developers have dubbed the massive new multi-purpose development Essex Crossing, which, let’s be honest, kind of sounds like a mall in Ohio. Though it has a slightly more pleasant ring to it than SPURA (the Seward Park Urban Renewal Project), or the larger development project. Essex Crossing is the result of a in the battle between neighborhood residents and politicians over what to do with this gray patch of grit in the LES cityscape.
The Mayor’s office held a press conference today announcing the city’s ambitious plans for the development which, The Times reported, will include office space, local shops, restaurants, low- and middle-income housing, a movie theater, a rooftop urban farm, and –- er, wait — an Andy Warhol museum? Okay, we’ll take it.
Half of the residential units in Essex Crossing will be designated affordable housing. Of the first 580 housing units to be built, 316 of those will be “permanently affordable units,” according to the city’s press release. Additionally, housing priority goes to “some of the 2,000, largely Puerto Rican families displaced four decades ago,” the Times reported.
Grand Street Settlement, a community agency that’s served the LES for almost a century, has been designated as one of the several developers. The organization will be in charge of opening the Essex Crossing community center and providing services to the residents of 100 units of permanently affordable housing for low and middle-income senior citizens, and other members of the community. Margarita Rosa, executive director of Grand Street Settlement told Bedford + Bowery, “I’m very optimistic that this project is getting off to a very good start.”
Rosa acknowledged that “there are always challenges” to these kinds of development projects in New York City, as a part of balancing the needs of a diverse community. But she feels that the project planning process was “very inclusive of community players” throughout. “The community, along with the government, came up with the guidelines” for the development project, she said, assuring us that her organization was committed to making sure the tone is “inclusive and receptive.”
Though, not everyone has been receptive to the design by Beyer Blinder Belle and ShOP, the latter of which is also behind the Domino Sugar Factory’s redevelopment. Bowery Boogie called it “wince worthy” and a slight to the “grungy edge” of the LES.
But let’s get back to that sort of bizarre aspect of the project — the Andy Warhol Museum, one of which already exists, by the way, in Pittsburgh. How does an Warhol Museum deux fit in with a vision for LES Urban Renewal? Emily Meyer, a representative from the museum, is vague about that: “Our hopes for this collaborative gallery, which would feature Warhol’s work, is to further energize this exciting urban development project in Warhol’s beloved New York,” she says.
Welcome home, Andy. But keep in mind, as the Times reports, some critics of the development project claim that the next mayor could overturn the plan. If development actually does proceed as planned, let’s hope Essex Crossing is just as successful as city officials and community organizations hope it will be at being everything to everyone.