- Villager Blog
- In Pictures
- Special Sections
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Union Square’s renaissance is one of the city’s ongoing success stories, and now the eastern side of the district is starting to share in the area’s ongoing makeover.
A notable new presence is The Jefferson, an eight-story, 83-year unit luxury condominium building at 211 E. 13th St. The project was developed by joint venture partners Charles Blaichman, Abram and Scott Shnay and Ironstate Development Company’s Michael and David Barry. Sales for the building are already underway.
The building takes its name from the Jefferson Theater, a vaudeville mecca that once occupied the property, but which was demolished about 15 years ago. The spacious lot sat vacant for years, but now is home to a luxury building with “a commanding view” of the area. The promo materials tout the spot as being in the hip East Village, as much as on the eastern edge of hot Union Square.
“There is no more charming, lively and exciting neighborhood in Manhattan than the East Village,” The Jefferson’s promotional copy reads. “It is alive with history, culture and creativity — but living here can be a challenge. Most residential buildings are over 100 years old and built to a scale unsuited to contemporary lifestyles. Many find the compromise worth it. But The Jefferson provides the perfect answer, with no compromise required: an ultra-contemporary, doorman building with all the amenities located in the most desirable area of the East Village. … The Jefferson also offers luxurious common areas: a gym, a lounge, a business center and a roof garden that exploits its lofty command of the neighborhood.”
Studios are starting at $850,000, while a 12,333-square-foot penthouse with a spacious rooftop deck is priced at $2.4 million.
Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership — a business improvement district and local development corporation — said the construction of The Jefferson has already had a ripple effect on the surrounding neighborhood, as a number of new business have opened up along Second and Third Aves. near 14th St.
“It’s really been a boon having a new building come along,” she noted. “The transformation has been remarkable and we expect additional businesses to open in the coming year, including the two spaces at the base of The Jefferson, totaling 4,500 square feet of new retail space.”
Also, a new residential sliver building is going up north of the N.Y.U. residence on the northeast corner of 14th St. and Third Ave.
“I don’t even know how people are going to live in there,” Falk said, incredulously, of the pencil-thin high-rise.
Along with the new residential construction in the eastern part of the BID district, the area is experiencing historically low office and retail vacancy rates, far below the city average. The tech sector is booming in Union Square, and the area boasts five of the city’s top 10 venture capital firms, as well, Falk noted proudly.
Burlington Coat Factory last year moved into the 92,000-square-foot, former Filene’s Basement space on Union Square South, providing a firm retail anchor.
School construction is also marching onward and upward, with completion nearing on the New School’s University Center at 14th St. and Fifth Ave. A new, 720-seat public school is also under construction at 10 E. 15th St. Slated to open in fall 2014, it will house the Clinton School for Writers and Artists Middle School, plus a high school.
Meanwhile, the Partnership continues its work keeping the district looking good. The BID recently spruced up 100 tree pits for spring, Falk noted, adding that once the weather is consistently warm, landscapers will replant the 46 planters scattered throughout the district.
The Partnership is also adding more street furniture in and around the park, since, as Falk said, seating is the number one request the Partnership gets in user surveys about the area. In June, the BID will also start its free summer programming in the square, from yoga to kids’ activities to music and dancing.
The Partnership’s big annual foot-tasting event under a white tent, Harvest in the Square, brings in up to $400,00 a year, all of which goes toward improving and beautifying the park.
“As we enter into the busy spring and summer seasons, the Union Square Partnership team is hard at work beautifying the district for the millions of people who live, work and visit the area,” Falk said. “From power-washing to painting street furniture to the installation of spring plantings and lawn work, our goal is to make Union Square a neighborhood for everyone to enjoy.”
In that vein, Falk, for one, says she’s pleased with the city’s enforcement of its new rules on expressive matter vendors in parks and how this is affecting Union Square Park and the plaza area around it.
“Since the regulations went into effect, the quality of life over all in the park has improved,” she said. “It just reached a tipping point where there wasn’t a fair balance between vending and the rest of the public’s ability to use the park. And the artists are an important part of the fabric of Union Square, so we’re very pleased the new rules have created a balance between the two constituencies — the artists and the general public.”
On another hot-button issue, Falk said she understands the court this month will hear the city’s appeal of a ruling on a lawsuit against the plan for a restaurant concession in the Union Square pavilion. A decision isn’t expected before the fall, she said.