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There Goes the Neighborhood

Lower East Side

LES Condos
Jan. 30, 2017

As the construction frenzy rumbles along on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a group of developers convened to discuss how the influx of luxury condos will transform one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. To hear them tell it, it won’t be pretty.

As reported by The Lo-Down, developers and some 300 brokers gathered recently for a panel discussion called “L.E.S. is More.” It was moderated by Leonard Steinberg, president of Compass, the firm handling sales at the 94-unit luxury condo complex at the corner of Orchard and East Houston streets. Steinberg said the Lower East Side was “once notoriously overcrowded and gritty” but is “now one of Manhattan’s hippest and most authentic neighborhoods,” adding that it’s “probably as cool as Williamsburg but without the L Train.”

So the Lower East Side is going to be the new Williamsburg, but with the F, J, M and Z trains instead of no L train? It gets worse.

Charles Bendit, co-developer of the massive Essex Crossing project, said all of the developers are seeing the same types of prospective buyers. “We’re all seeing people coming from the suburbs,” he said, from Westchester, New Jersey and Long Island. “Their kids have left home. They’re empty-nesters… (and) they want to be in the city.” They’re drawn to the Lower East Side, he said, because, “It has special character and it has history. I think that resonates with people.”

More than a few people would argue that these glossy new projects are bound to obliterate what’s left of the LES’s “special character.” Even Steinberg acknowledged this in asking the panel, “How do you feel about what your building does to this neighborhood? I think a lot of people might argue with you and say, ‘You’re killing the neighborhood.’”

The developers, amazingly, don’t see it that way.

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