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?