Essex Street Market…Development done Right

The first building we rebuilt in NYC went up against Landmarks who wanted us to keep a round colored paned window from a supposed famous Architect of that period. We did and in retrospect, I applaud Landmarks for forcing us to do so. Although it ends up that the architect was not who they thought it was, it kept a part of old New York and that is commendable.

We love walking the city. The architecture, the people, the old carriage houses, the winding streets of Greenwich Village, new spots and old spots.

The old Essex Street Market stood there for almost 80 years before the city closed the old space after a failed attempt by the NYCEDC to revitalize it. The original opened in 1940 as a public market where people did their shopping until the rise of grocery stores. It was sad to see it close a few years ago. As we walked by the old building en route to the shiny new Essex Street Market across the street, I wondered why they did not revitalize that building as they did with Grand Central Market in LA.

Then I walked into the new Essex Street Market and changed my mind. Someone was paying attention to this development. Insanely well curated with old vendors and new. They are listening to the importance of community and how do you create it in retail areas? You do it with other amenities from a barber shop, to homeopathic products to an art space, to live music where people can dance, to an area to take classes, to spots to sit down and eat, to vendors that represent the community. Bravo!

The EDC was paying attention, city planning was paying attention and community members were paying attention. This new Essex Street Market has become a new member the NYC landscape overnight.

Then we go uptown to the dreaded Hudson Mall where city planning gave the wand to the developers. It doesn’t feel part of the city but more like a piece of Disney world with abundant tourism and no purchases being made. What a lost opportunity. Terrible architecture, no connection to the community, boring, bland and above all extremely ugly. It slays me and makes me so mad.

What a pleasant feeling to be delighted by a development done right. These days it seems like very little is done with the community in mind and this market feels so good. Hats off NYCEDC for not giving up on a new Essex Street Market. The developers, marketers, contractors, architects, and financial partners. Finally, development done right.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Yup–NY is a contrast of large things done wrong and careful wonderful things done right.Best recent example is of course the Highline but also all the waterfront parks cross the Burroughs with water connections.I’ll head out to see this one.Thanks

    1. Jlix

      The Highline destroyed the neighborhood (in the sense that it pushed out businesses that had thrived there for years and made local housing unaffordable) and truly set the stage for the horror that is Hudson Yards. A good albeit old piece about this:…also this piece which reflects the thoughts of one of the creators:

      1. awaldstein

        I will read.It is wrong to say that the Highline destroyed Chelsea–simply not true.Blaming good changes for increasing property values is a zero sum way of thinking.Managing change not obstructing it is the way forward.Each to their own.

          1. awaldstein

            Change is inevitable.This point of view is similar to saying that moving the drug dealers and prostitutes out of Tompkins Sq in the 70s and 80s is bad cause it cleaned up the neighborhood and families moved in.

          2. pointsnfigures

            As a tourist, I think the High Line is pretty cool. We did a similar thing in Chicago with the 606.

          3. Mike Zamansky

            Gotta agree with Jlix on this one – many thriving business pushed out. Maybe a good deal for New Yorkers but like most (all?) gentrification, bad for the New Yorkers who struggled through the bad times as they’re mostly displaced and replaced by more well to do transplants.

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            That’s a shame. I don’t understand why long-standing residents and businesses don’t get grandfathered in or subsidized with these things. No matter how cool the High Line is, if it results in predatory real estate activities, it negates a lot of the positive.

          5. awaldstein

            As a New Yorker I am proud of it and walk it often.Anti growth folks sound like a lot of noise on this one.

          6. Gotham Gal

            Definitely. It’s fantastic

          7. jlix

            wow. i don’t think it is the same thing at all. there were many, MANY thriving businesses (not drug dealers and prostitutes)that were displaced by the high line– and even the folks that started the high line acknowledge that they let the neighborhood down in a big way. Change is of course inevitable but your comment seems very callous. i am assuming that you just don’t know all the facts (yet)

          8. awaldstein

            Thanks.I am not callous but potentially not informed.I love NY. A native actually. And someone who has built and funded local businesses.But I believe that creating companies, evolving cities is all a matter of choices, many of them hard.

          9. jlix

            I am also a (3rd generation) native NYer. I run my own (local) business which sometimes benefits from NYC’s changes and sometimes does not– and I agree, evolution is necessary and sometimes difficult. But to compare what happened to the very successful businesses displaced by the high line to “prostitutes and drug dealers”– I just can’t get past that. It feels like a a very toxic dog whistle. So I am bowing out of this.

  2. Anne Libby

    The market is near our office, and so it’s a daily spot for me when I’m in the area. The vendors I know are all so excited, and they’ve seen more traffic, and one of them (who now has a small table with a bar where people can eat their sandwich) said, “Now we’re thinking about different things that are possible.” Also, on the decorating front — I haven’t asked yet — but it looks like they brought the old hanging clocks over from the old market. I agree 100%.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Anne, did they close the big place where we went to buy lunch with Amy a couple years ago?

      1. Anne Libby

        I think so? Crowded aisles, nearly grimy, lots of vendor booths? If so, yes, but every vendor who wanted to move (one I think retired) is now at this gorgeous spot.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I know I’m weird, and I’m sure the new space is better especially for the vendors 🙂 I just love places that feel like time machines. I’m glad to hear nobody got priced out of the new location!

          1. Anne Libby

            We’ll have to check it out and see what you think! I don’t know how the pricing works for the vendors, but I hope there’s no cliff to fall off of. The fact that they all (except for the fish guy) moved over means the world though.

  3. CCjudy

    revisiting NYC in june (my original home) for 3 days I loved that old market remember the pickle people

  4. pointsnfigures

    My wife and I recently rehabbed an apartment in Chicago. I used to be a big preservationist. I sort of am, but see that there needs to be space to change. It’s our second rehab. We found stuff behind the walls after we tore them out that showed this building was a firetrap. The drainage pipes were so old and corroded, they barely met the waste pipe. I wonder about other buildings and homes on our street. Is it a tinderbox or not? If some developer were to tear them all down and build something modern, would we miss anything? Would our collective culture miss anything?Our building doesn’t have any historical parts about it. It’s not anything special. If they tore it down, culture wouldn’t be lost. There are some things that when they tear them down, culture would be lost. I understand sentimentality, but the world changes and cities have to flex with the world.

  5. jason wright

    Hudson Mal (not a typo). I have zero connection to NYC but it makes me want to jab my finger in the chest of the developer. History will not be kind to him.