PROFILEnyc had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Charles Bendit, co-CEO of Taconic Investment Partners, to discuss transforming the Lower East Side, his involvement in the Essex Crossing mega-project as well as its first condo building, the SHoP Architects-designed 242 Broome. Essex Crossing is one of the most significant development projects in the history of New York City. Get an inside look at how Delancey Street Associates is helping to re-energize this evolving Manhattan neighborhood:
PM: What attracted your attention to the Lower East Side? How did you become involved in the Essex Crossing project?
CB: We’ve always had our eye on the Lower East Side. Not only is it a dynamic neighborhood with a booming arts and cultural scene, but it’s also an area that’s been underserved in terms of residential and retail development. When the city issued a Request for Proposals for the “Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project”, a group of nine sites on six acres that sat vacant since 1967, our partners—L+M Development Partners and BFC Partners—approached us to participate. They felt our experience in retail, office and condominium development was invaluable, and we agreed to do the deal together. Delancey Street Associates won the city’s proposal in 2013 and the project broke ground two years later.
PM: What makes Essex Crossing one of the most significant developments in NYC?
CB: Essex Crossing represents Manhattan’s largest development opportunity south of 96th Street with the exception of Hudson Yards. Upon completion, Essex Crossing will boast 1.9 million square feet of residential, office, retail, cultural and community space. The sites will be connected by new park and green space above ground, in addition to a world-class marketplace below ground called The Market Line, which will complement the historic Essex Street Market. We’re thrilled to be involved in the project and proud that 242 Broome, the first condominium within Essex Crossing, will open to residents this spring.
PM: What obstacles have you had to overcome to bring the Essex Crossing project to fruition?
CB: Since Essex Crossing is a city-sponsored development, the process has been extremely collaborative. All of the respective agencies have been very helpful with navigating the complexities involved with a project of this size and scope. We look forward to seeing each Essex Crossing site reach completion, and observing how the project serves to enhance and complement the existing Lower East Side.
PM: Where did the idea to build a luxury condo building such as 242 Broome come from in an area with limited luxury options? How has the neighborhood received the project?
CB: Luxury development on the Lower East Side was limited prior to the arrival of Essex Crossing. At the time, we knew that we wanted to build a condominium in the area, and it was important to us that the building’s architecture reflect and complement the existing neighborhood. We’re extremely proud of the design that SHoP Architects has achieved, and the feedback we’ve received from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
PM: What features set 242 Broome apart from other projects on the market? When someone moves into a unit, what is going to make 242 Broome feel like home?
CB: When a buyer steps into any of the residences at 242 Broome, they’ll be met with soaring ceilings, rich white oak floors and stunning views of the Lower East Side and downtown Manhattan. In addition to the high-level finishes and array of modern amenities, the building will also be the new home of the world-renowned International Center of Photography (ICP). Each buyer at 242 Broome will receive a complimentary, one-year ICP membership, which includes free admission to the ICP Museum with discounts and special incentives for ICP courses, workshops, lectures and public programs. Residents will also enjoy members-only exhibition openings, events and private curatorial walk-throughs. We think the membership is a great opportunity for buyers to experience the best-in-class art scene for which the neighborhood has become so well known.
PM: Why did you choose to go with SHoP Architects for the project?
CB: It was an easy decision to select SHoP as 242 Broome’s architect. The firm is celebrated around the world for its innovative designs, which include the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the American Copper Buildings on Manhattan’s East River waterfront. We tasked SHoP with creating a building that would stand out, but also fit within the surrounds of the existing neighborhood, and they were extremely successful in executing this vision.
PM: Why did SHoP select the anodized aluminum and the twisting shape? Can you comment on the design?
CB: The anodized aluminum was selected for its reflective quality. Meanwhile, the bends and angles of the façade resemble the iconic fire escapes of the neighboring tenement buildings. As the building gets taller, each floor is set back, which gives the building the appearance of twisting and provides each residence with privacy, natural light and optimal views.
PM: How does the buyer mix look? How are you attracting luxury buyers to the Lower East Side?
CB: We’ve seen a wide span of interest from buyers from all over New York City. Interestingly, 60% of the buyers at 242 Broome are either baby boomers or millennials, many of whom cite the walkability and convenience of Essex Crossing as major draws to the neighborhood.
PM: 242 Broome has a selection of affordable housing units, can you comment on building affordable housing in Manhattan? How does it affect development and the city's evolution from a developer’s point of view?
CB: It’s extremely important for Manhattan to offer more affordable housing options. This is especially true for the Lower East Side, a culturally diverse neighborhood with housing prices that remain relatively low compared to other parts of the city. Half of Essex Crossing’s residential component—which includes condos, rentals and senior housing—is comprised of affordable housing where preference is given to locals and former Seward Park residents. From the beginning, we saw Essex Crossing as a development that would serve the existing community—just as much as the newcomers it attracts.
PM: How did the International Center of Photography become involved with 242 Broome? Can you comment on the value they will add to the project and the neighborhood?
CB: From the very beginning, Delancey Street Associates has been committed to honoring the Lower East Side’s flourishing arts and cultural scene. We wanted 242 Broome’s adjoining cultural space to offer exhibits that residents of the building and the community at large could access. The relocation of ICP to 242 Broome has proven to be a major draw for buyers, as the institution is known for its highly respected and thought-provoking exhibitions and programming.
PM: What will Essex Crossing mean to Manhattan when complete?
CB: Upon completion, Essex Crossing will be one of the most significant additions to the New York skyline. The project is transformative as it is restorative. It will serve as an example of the extent to which neighborhoods can grow inclusively and improve as a result of the city’s embrace of meaningful redevelopment opportunities.
About Charles Bendit:
Charles Bendit is co-CEO of Taconic Investment Partners, a developer and operator of commercial and residential properties which he founded with Paul Pariser in 1997. Before founding Taconic Investment Partners, Bendit was one of the founders at CBC Properties, which has invested in over 1 million SF of office space and residential rentals across New York and Washington D.C. Bending also served as a managing director at Jones Lang Wootton. Bendit is a member of the board of governors of the Real Estate Board of New York and has been named to the Commercial Observers Power 100. Bendit is an alumni of George Washington University.
Check out 242 Broome's Official Website Here