Monday, May 25, 2009

East River Plaza

If you live in East Harlem you've probably seen the construction of the East River Plaza, you really can't miss it. If you don't live in the area you've probably heard rumors of a Costco and Target being built uptown. Lately there has been a great deal of chatter going on about the project. I'd like to try to consolidate some of the recent information and start a conversation about the project in general, and see what residents and even non-residents think of the plaza.

The Basics: The East River Plaza is being developed in East Harlem along the FDR Drive between 116th and 119th St. It will be a large big-box mall, 485,000 square feet, of the style more often seen in suburbs. According to PlaNYC's website, "In 1996 Blumenfeld Development Group, Ltd. (BDG) purchased the site. The site was rezoned in 1999, changing the zoning from an M2-2 to a C4-4 to allow for the commercial growth. From the time of the rezoning till 2004 when Forest City Ratner Company (FCRC) bought a stake in the development, the project was stalled. Both FCRC and BDG will develop the site."

The plaza could bring 1200-2000 jobs into the community, and the developers have pledged to hire within the community.

Originally Home Depot was one of the tenants of the plaza, but they have subleased their space to Costco. In addition to Costco, Target, Best Buy and Marshalls have also agreed to be tenants.

The East River Plaza is scheduled to open in October 2009.

Lately there has been concerns about Costco not accepting food stamps. According to the New York Times more then 30,000 residents in East Harlem receive food stamps. Costco has stated they do not have the technology to accept food stamps. The times quotes an East Harlem resident, Viveca Diaz, aptly stating, "Very interesting. The corner bodega takes food stamps, and Costco doesn't."

Costco has also been in the news for their proposed delivery schedule. According to the New York Times, "Costco just won special permission for its tractor-trailers to drive on residential streets in East Harlem between midnight and 5 a.m. to make deliveries." The Daily News has an opinion piece from East Harlem resident Dolores Prida, entitled "Sleepless in East Harlem" on the topic.

What are your thoughts on the East River Plaza? Do you think it will bring traffic congestion and late-night noise, or jobs and great shopping experiences?



  1. I suppose I might end up working there, but hopefully I'll be doing better before then. Working there for them or anywhere and other than for myself will in the best circumstances be merely supplemental and temporary.

  2. I'm not too worried about the late night chatter because I ear it all anyway. I live in a front facing apartment on the second floor so I can hear all the thru traffic that happens already. I would gladly trade off a little noise pollution for a Costco & Target within walking distance. IMHO, its worth it.

  3. Great post-I'm getting ready to move to 116th and 1st ave and have heard about this development. Although I don't enjoy noisy trucks at night (damn you street faceing bedroom!),amenities are amenities. Big box stores can be lame, but if there aren't any mom and pop stores to buy from, what's the alternative?I would have to think that Costco will have to bend to the food stamp thing.Certainly it shan't be out of the kindness of their heart, or to better serve the community; it'll be when they realize it makes fiscal sense. Hmmm.Should be interesting.

  4. If anything you will see the emergence of new services (especially restaurants) in the area as a result of the mall. The amount of consumers and patrons this mall will bring to the area will definitely have vendors lining to lease space.

    I'm even predicting Starbucks leasing space on the storefront of 116th and Pleasant (the building that has the big windows that is on the side of the mall).

  5. Costco is a members-only store, here in California at least, so I wonder if this exempts them from certain requirements.

    An oddity in California (and perhaps elsewhere) is that members-only stores can't sell alcohol and prescription drugs. Since Costco certainly does that, what they do is allow non-members to receive free guest passes, as long as they're only buying prescriptions or alcohol! This isn't advertised though, with good reason. Sort of like the In-n-Out secret menu.

  6. I moved here (119th between 1st and 2nd) 3 years ago expecting this project. It's sloooow development has put me in a sour mood. My expectations were clearly too high. I hope it materializes in October (which I seriously doubt), and we can get this ball rolling on more new developments in the area.

    My question is if it is in fact opening soon, where are all the informational postings, job opportunity listings, etc...

    I was told by the community board months ago that there will be benefits and the community will be prioritzed it receiving them. Did I miss this? What happened to costco's "memberships?" The compensation for the noise (i believe it was window related?)

    Is there a reliable source of information about east river plaza?

  7. the people who think the construction was a slow developement don't live 5 feet from the construction. my windows face directly towards it. i could throw a rock and hit the huge parking lot building. for years we've been living with the constant noise and probably chemically filled air. i've been here all my life. as much as im excited for target, im sure we'll all be paying for it in the future.

  8. Hey there, Really nice job, I have never seen such sharing. Thank you for your help.