It was the largest piece of undeveloped city-owned land in Manhattan south of 96th Street, and for nearly fifty years, it sat empty. Now the six-acre site is finally being developed — one of the biggest projects in the Lower East Side in decades. Our Michael Scotto has the story.
As you look here, you can really see all that is coming.
What's coming is called Essex Crossing — nine buildings that eventually will house nearly two million square-feet of apartments, stores and community space.
We took a ride to the top floor of the first building to reach its maximum height — and checked out how construction is coming along.
"Topping off the first building for us and our team is a huge accomplishment," said Isaac Henderson with Delancey Street Associates. "We have a million square feet under construction but to get to the top is not an easy process."
The site has been vacant since the 1960s, when rundown buildings were demolished to make way for new housing.
But the local Assemblyman at the time, Sheldon Silver, is said to have thwarted several development proposals, allegedly to preserve the Jewish character of the neighborhood.
Essex Crossing came together in 2013 when the Bloomberg Administration struck a deal to finally develop the site, which had become a series of parking lots
When complete, the buildings will house a new Essex Street Market, a movie theater, and housing — lots of it. When it's finished, the development will include 1000 apartments, half of them affordable for low- and middle-income residents, including seniors.
Grand Street Settlement will be providing community services at the site.
"Seniors are put in a precarious position with limited incomes so they'll have the chance with this site to be able to reside here and receive social services through our senior center," said Robert Cordero with Grand Street Settlement.
There are concerns, though, that all the new residents will strain the area's infrastructure.
The project has room for a 75,000 square foot public school — but so far, the city hasn't budgeted money to build it.
As for parking, there won't be any. None of the 400 above ground spots being eliminated will be replaced.
The bulk of the work on this massive site is expected to be done by 2021, with the entire project wrapping up by 2024.