Union square

Union Square in Manhattan outpaces COVID with new development – ​​Business Observer

Union Square is a place where New Yorkers naturally come together when they are very attached to something,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of Union Square Partnership, a business improvement district (BID) in Midtown. South.

Historically, Union Square, which stretches from Broadway to Fourth Avenue and from East 14th to East 17th streets, was home to the world’s largest publishing houses as well as a hub for home furnishing and design studios. inside. This paved the way for many creative agencies to land in Union Square, including Andy Warhol’s famous art and film studio, The Factory.

Union Square’s creative engine has never stopped growing. Consolidated Edison is a longtime tenant at 4 Irving Place, as are The New School and New York University, the latter of which has residence halls in the neighborhood.

Another major player that has emerged from the neighborhood is Zero Irving, a tech campus and small business incubator at 124 East 14th Street. RAL Development, with financial backing from Junius Real Estate Partners, completed construction in 2021, designing Zero Irving to include 14 floors of market-rate Class A office space with flexible rental terms available for businesses in growth. Other components include an education and training center, a technology incubator, coworking spaces and a 10,000 square foot food hall managed by Urbanspace.

“We’re really excited to bring the next chapter of this site to the neighborhood,” said Spencer Levine, President of RAL Companies & Affiliates. “There are so many time periods and cultures that are reflected in Union Square. It’s not like any other place in Manhattan. We want the space to serve as an ecosystem where people from the training center to digital skills can come to learn the relevant skills.”

The region has attracted high-level salespeople since its birth.

Commissioned by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1869, Tiffany & Company built its headquarters on the south corner of West 15th Street and Union Square West. More recently the building was purchased by Brack Capital Real Estate in 2006 and reopened in 2008 as high end apartments.

Union Square has also become one of the fastest growing commercial areas, in part due to its residential population.

“I would say the Zeckendorf building on the corner of 14 Union Square East was probably the change in the neighborhood that brought higher-end apartments and better shopping,” said Jeffrey Roseman, vice president of Newmark. The Zeckendorf Towers building, also known as One Irving Place, is a 29-story, four-tower condominium complex completed in 1987.

Microsoft recently announced that it would consolidate its New York offices into a flagship space at 122 Fifth Avenue. Buzzfeed and Facebook have their offices nearby, at 111 East 18th Street and 225 Park Avenue.

“There is a strong demand in Midtown South for boutique-sized spaces in brand-new buildings,” said Jane Luger, vice president of Taconic, the company that acquired 817 Broadway in November 2016 and renovated the historic site. formerly known as the Sprague Building into a boutique office building. “We have almost tripled our occupancy rate over the past nine months.”

Foot traffic brought by office workers and residents makes Union Square particularly fertile ground for retail. Retail spending in the region increased 74% from March 2020 to March 2021, including e-commerce, and total trips to Union Square across all mobilities increased 57%, according to a report by Union Square Partnership market.

“Union Square is the perfect example of the key variables that make retail strong,” said Brandon Singer, Founder of Retail by MONA, a retail brokerage firm currently representing the retail space at 31 Union Square West. “This space, without a doubt, is one of our best listings that has [a lot of] the interest of big business. It’s one of those corridors that I think is constantly evolving with great rental and great brands and companies.

Unsurprisingly, as of last March, 63 businesses have opened in Union Square since 2020, pandemic or not, according to Falk.

“There are so many different parts of the day — you have schools, residents, offices, tourists, restaurants, nightclubs, department stores,” Roseman said. “If a potential retailer looked at different neighborhoods, Union Square was always considered no matter when you were there, there was always something going on and there were always people there.”

The mission of the Union Square Partnership BID is to keep the neighborhood clean and safe, in part through the provision of essential services. The non-profit organization has been a marketer for local businesses and a huge driver for the hospitality and tourism industries in the region.

“Each year we undertake a series of projects to improve the neighborhood,” said Falk, Executive Director of the BID. “We emphasize the message that Union Square-14th Street is open for business. We also emphasize this idea that when you get together with your friends and family, you should come to Union Square. »

It may be an easier lift than it was in the past.

“In the 1960s, the neighborhood didn’t look like the Union Square we see today. It wasn’t the best place to spend an afternoon and have a picnic,” said David Brause, president of Brause Realty, owner of 41 Union Square West, a building specializing in small loft suites for commercial tenants. Brause has served on the board of the Union Square Partnership for more than 20 years. “We need an organization like Union Square Partnership that can really bring everyone together and work through any issues that may arise,” he said.

The Union Square Partnership in 2021 introduced what it calls the Vision Plan, which advocates for more investment and public spaces in the neighborhood. “COVID has really shown how badly we need outdoor public spaces,” Falk said. The Vision plan calls for a 33% increase in pedestrian and public spaces in Union Square. Such an expansion would fit well with the history of Union Square.

“A lot of people think Union Square got its name from union protests or that it means the Union Army during the Civil War, but it actually dates back to when the grid system was first implemented,” said Kevin Draper, historian and co. -founder of New York Historical Tours. “They called it Union Square because of the joining of two streets: Bowery and Broadway, then known as Bloomingdale’s Road.”

In Manhattan’s original grid plan, the angle that these two roads would meet was considered too heavy to be practical. Hence the development of an open public space on the site, which today is a crossroads of so many activities. “It becomes the heart of the city,” Brause said.