The Future of Independence Plaza

A lot of folks in Tribeca have noticed that work has stepped up lately in the retail at Independence Plaza—it appears to be limited to interior demolition—and they’re hoping new tenants are on the way. That stretch of Greenwich Street, from Duane to N. Moore, is one of the most prominent in the neighborhood, and it has been barren for four years now: Most of the previous tenants got the boot in the summer of 2014, with the exception of Tribeca Pizzeria (which lasted till the spring of 2015) and Duane Reade. And, of course, there’s Best Market, where negotiations are underway to renew—or not—the three-year lease signed in the fall of 2015.

Independence Plaza is owned by Vornado Realty Trust (the majority owner) and Stellar Management; the former manages the 54,500 square feet of retail, while the latter handles the residential component, comprising the three 39-story residential towers at 40 Harrison, 80 N. Moore, and 310 Greenwich, along with the low-slung “townhouses” off street-level.

I heard a while back that Vornado and Stellar were considering a major overhaul of the entire complex, even bringing in Tribeca architect/designer Thierry Despont to rethink how the Brutalist hodgepodge could be made over into something contemporary and upscale. I heard something similar recently from a source in the real-estate business, who said that “transformative” plans are in the works—and that in his/her estimation, the retail won’t come back on the market for at least five years.

In that case, Best Market can be considered a bellwether: If Vornado allows the grocery store to stay for another year (or two, or three…), we’re likely that much farther from the transformation, whatever form it takes. Because there’s no doubt in my mind that Vornado intends to devote that stretch to luxury retail, and Best Market doesn’t remotely qualify. It might be telling that Vornado’s own web page on the property showcases the Greenwich Hotel across the street rather than the ragtag retail itself.

The big question is how ambitious will Vornado and Stellar get? Could they reclad the towers? Push the recessed retail out so it’s flush with the street wall? Relocate the street-level mechanical venting? Find a way to break the complex apart, so that the “townhouses” feel separate from the towers? Move the parking garage entrances? This is all speculation until we see the plans, either because the companies decide to share them or because someone out there decides the public should know. All tips are guaranteed anonymous: 917-209-6473 or tribecacitizen@gmail.com.

P.S. I did email Vornado to ask about larger plans or even just what the current work is—perhaps the company willing to do short-term rentals in the interim—and one of the brokers inadvertently copied me when he forwarded it to his team. His email didn’t clear matters up, other than that I don’t think we can expect much transparency from the company.

 

3 Comments

  1. it’s hard to imagine ipn undergoing more construction. it’s been relentless here since stellar took over. i don’t understand how anyone who pays market rate would put up with it.

  2. I am so disgusted to read this article. just underwent scaffolding that lasted years ( what a mess for Greenwich Street). Work that was done on “Terraces” without even testing for dangerous Asbestos and toxins from 911! No one informed the tenants about the dust from the ” work” that was done on their terraces. This is huge news that is never spoken about or reported! How does Stella and Vornado ( pure corruption) get away with that? They have plenty of politicians in their pockets. Knowing plenty of original tenants who live there and how they were and are being treated to today. They need more construction? More in and out “hotel” like tenants? NO! The block is a ghost town. Now to think of Duane Read and Best Market closing down for the selfishness of making more money is a disgrace. THE ORIGINAL TENANTS OF IPN NEEDED AN ADVOCATE, A PUBLIC FIGURE for them which they never had. Some lost their apartments, others sick from 911 and still getting downsized from the corruption of STELLA IN 2004. I really wish someone wrote about that!. How tenants who lived through the 911 tragedy and are sick still have to deal with IPN bullying them. SO VERY SAD BEST MARKET WILL DEFINITELY NOT MAKE IT.

  3. Hodgepodge? Hmm, I know you have to try and keep your articles fresh but the complex is anything but hodgepodge. Thierry Despont would add what? Black, masculine stream lined finishes – his stuff is so dark and ruby French. Just wouldn’t work at IPN. Stellar aren’t the brightest bulbs and partnered with Vornado to get out of their bloated real estate ventures elsewhere. All in all the Cohen brothers who owed the complex before Stellar weren’t that much better but they mostly let some wise guys run the place and they did a pretty good job of things when all is said and done. These guys are just idiots; a family will move in for 18 months, make a home, and these jerks won’t negotiate with them to keep a good steady renter in place. I am sure they will mess up their negotiations with Best Market as well. We need that market.

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