Report: Essex Crossing to Overload LES with Office Space

Posted on: October 23rd, 2017 at 5:08 am by

Essex Crossing Phase II, Photo: Moso Studio

Now that the last of the Phase I towers has finally topped out, the spotlight turns to the second chapter of Essex Crossing.

Last month, renderings surfaced of the first two developments in Phase II, which will rise at SPURA Sites 3 and 4. The former is a 15-story building with 83 market-rate units and 153,819 square-feet of commercial space; the latter lot will sprout a 25-story tower stocked with 263 apartments (half affordable), plus an additional 148,067 square-feet designated commercial.

While the majority of the more than 350,000 square-feet is earmarked for the Market Line (the assemblage of shops connecting to the Essex Crossing “Gateway” building across Norfolk Street), office space is also a big component. The Wall Street Journal touched upon this sudden influx in a piece yesterday.

Photo: Moso Studio

While the amount of office space is small compared with the commercial skyscrapers of more than a million square feet rising on Manhattan’s far West Side and in the World Trade Center campus, the addition could spur the creation of new office space in a neighborhood where virtually none on this level and scale had existed previously, real-estate executives said.

The neighborhood’s reputation as a gritty area struggling with poverty, crime and drugs, particularly in the 1970s through the 1990s, began to turn in recent years as more young professionals began moving in, and art galleries and restaurants opened. In the last four years, the neighborhood has experienced a surge in luxury condominium developments.

And that stubborn designation of “Midtown South” in relation to downtown refuses to go away.

The Lower East Side sits in the Midtown South office submarket, which is filled with nontraditional office neighborhoods such as SoHo, Chelsea, Union Square and the Meatpacking District. In these places, demand for office space from expanding and relocating companies has skyrocketed in the last decade, and rents for some new office developments have pushed well above $100 a square foot, rivaling those of high-end, Midtown locations.

Employers across sectors have shown a preference for these areas because they offer a mix of residences, restaurants and bars, as well as cultural venues. But growing companies unable to find buildings with the larger floor sizes they need have been forced to look elsewhere, real-estate brokers and executives said.

But the costs are high, not just monetarily speaking. Congestion…

Essex Crossing is expected to bring much-needed affordable housing, and the office space is likely to attract workers who can provide merchants with foot traffic during the day, said Harriet Cohen, chair of the Seward Park Area Redevelopment Coalition, a community group working with tenants cleared from the site as part of the urban-renewal efforts over the years. But she also worries about whether the streets and the existing subway access would be able to handle the thousands of new people expected to live and work in the area.

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