242 Broome Street is a Worrisome Edifice
242 Broome St., apart of the Essex Crossing development, sticks out like a sore thumb.
Time line intro video, watch this first!
The unavoidable and inescapable complications of gentrifying the Lower East Side of Manhattan is one big rhetorical question. Urban regeneration is visible all over the LES, but the Essex Crossing developments has become the biggest urban regeneration project of Lower Manhattan in the last decade. The estimated cost is $1 billion and covers nine sites spread over six acres. 242 Broome St. towers over all of the buildings within a six to ten block radius. This apartment building, apart of phase one, is explained here on https://www.essexcrossingnyc.com/map as a “graciously proportionate size and has open plan layouts with a fitness center, entertainment lounge, children’s playroom and a landscape rooftop garden.” The Gutter, a “high end” bowling alley that that serves craft beers and has hardwood lanes, is going to occupy 17,000 square feet of the lowest level of the apartment building. The apartment spaces for sale start on the fifth floor of the building. It is concerning to read promotions for 242 Broome that state one bedrooms start at $1.2 million, because it belittles and disparages the idea of a one bedroom compared to the 2–3.5 bedrooms offered at $5 million and above. It is shocking that a one bedroom in this neighborhood could start at $1.2 million.
.242 Broome St. stands out like a sore thumb; but based on research and information collected about the Essex Crossing development strategy, it won’t stick out for long. By 2024, it’s predicted that this building will blend right in with the rest of the evolutionary planning and developing that is in preparation right now. It seems that The Market Line which will cater to the needs of 242 Broome St. residents conveniently built 100 feet away, is paving a path for the future but not sensibly in regards to the long term native residents of the LES. The corner of Essex and Broome St. belongs to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area or better known as SPURA. On the opposite side of the corner of Essex and Broome St. directly across from the building 242 Broome St., is Seward Park High school which was founded in 1929. This building has not been touched since it was rebuilt in 1929, after it opened in 1862 as the Ludlow Street jail.
Essex Crossing is the latest juncture of gentrification in the Lower East Side. This latest phase has the most expensive budget in the history of urban development in this zip code. Between the years of 1991 and 2002, there were 10,000 displacements in the LES according to the Census Bureau. Data USA and the NYC government website both state that the housing quality in the 10002 zip code has a 58% rate of maintenance defects which include problems such as water leaks, cracks in the walls, inadequate heating and hot water, and toilet breakdowns. While over $100,000 million was used to build 242 Broome St., this raises a question about why the city of Manhattan is allowing the development of apartments with only a 13 percent affordable housing rate to take over empty lots of land that could be used for either two of the more suitable options. One, build housing for the families that were displaced during the Urban Housing Crisis in 1984, or two, develop housing for the people that currently live in the tenement buildings that are apart of the 58% of housing quality maintenance defects. I think it is important from a geographical perspective to know that 242 Broome St. over looks four buildings that are apart of the defected housing quality average.
The methodologies I included in my research process depended a lot on observation, because of the conveniency of the location in proximity to my apartment. I used quantitative and qualitative data for reference of analysis in regards to the data I collected. Interviewing sources, observing the building and its surroundings, collecting data from the Census Bureau and from researching many various articles in regards to Essex Crossing, and the history of the gentrification of the SPURA and the 10002 zip code. I am using both primary data and secondary data by gathering my own first hand research and also using data that is second hand and refined.
I could tell the doorman at 242 Broome St. had big opinions about Essex Crossing. It helped that he is a Lower East Side native who grew up in the SPURA borough.
“I grew up here.” He roles his eyes. “The people here are mean, they don’t acknowledge me. I come from working on the Upper West Side- always people asking me “you want coffee today? You want a muffin?”
“Here, they walk right by you.”
“There are kids like you who don’t even know what the purpose of my job is as a doorman, and then there are kids that live in these apartments. The separation of these two lifestyles is huge. The only thing dividing this apartment building and the kids that go to that high school literally is the width of the sidewalk, figuratively it’s everything.”
What surrounds 242 Broome St. is heritage. Parts of Broome Street remain vibrant slices of authentic Lower East Side, for instance the building that shares a 12 foot alley way with 242 Broome St. is Eisner Brothers T-shirt head quarters. The brick stone building covered in graffiti is a family owned clothing factory that serves uniformed officers and civilians.
The man working behind the counter at Eisner Bros was all ears and smiles until I asked him his opinion on the multi million dollar condos for sale in 242 Broome St. which hovers his building.
“No Comment” he replied as he scrolled through his phone to find a photo of a $100,000 car that was sitting parked outside the building, which belonged to one of the new apartment owners.
“What business does this have being in this neighborhood? It might belong to that professional snowboarder that just moved in.” Talking about the car.
“I Think he bought one of the penthouses.” You know how much one of those one bedroom goes for? $1-4 million.”
I asked him if his property values have gone up, or if he’s been offered any crazy price for this building.
“I own this building. Nobodies touching it. Today someone came in to buy a shirt and couldn’t even come up with $20.”
The entirety of the idea of the new and improved Essex Street in this part of the LES is not surprising. Investors and developers want to “help” bring the Lower East Side into the limelight, just how it happened in the East Village, Nolita and Little Italy. For business owners and investors, Essex crossing has become the most fixated area to re-invent something that wasn’t there before for a reason. Far from help, Essex Crossing is a development fueled by the intent of segregation.