Independence Plaza planning new tower?

I have now heard this as a rumor from three sources and an almost-confirmation from an official source that Vornado Realty Trust, which is the majority owner of Independence Plaza, and Stellar Management are planning to build at least one new tower on the near empty plaza where PS 150 used to be, at the top of the staircase at Jay.

Several tenants have written to me to say “friends” who live in the townhouses had been approached to be bought out, but finally one current tenant told me that in fact their lease on a townhouse had not been renewed and it was common knowledge at the complex that the townhouses were being cleared out one by one. He said Stellar Management, which manages the property, has installed its employees in some of the townhouses, but that most of the longtime tenants were gone.

The plan, he said, is to build an additional tower on the plaza on Greenwich. There’s another raised plaza at Franklin.

“Once they buy out the family south of me, then everyone is gone except for the ones on Greenwich Street, who are the holdouts,” said the current tenant who called me, who has lived there for 11 years and had a two-year lease that ends next June (they are leaving it early as of December). “It’s pretty obvious what the plans are. They’ve got three towers here, and there were supposed to be nine.”

Independence Plaza is made up of three 39-story residential towers with 1300 units at 40 Harrison, 80 N. Moore, and 310 Greenwich, along with the low-slung “townhouses” on Greenwich and off street-level on the plazas. The complex was built in 1974, eventually with funds from the state’s Mitchell-Lama program, where developers received tax abatements and low-interest mortgages subsidized by the federal, state or city government. (This is a fabulous feature on some original tenants.) But when the mortgages were paid off, landlords could leave the program and apartments were opened up to market rates. Original tenants who stayed, called LAP (Landlord Assistance Program) tenants, were rent regulated as part of an agreement at the time. There are also Section 8 tenants.

When The Times covered the neighborhood in 1983 in a “If You’re Thinking of Living In…” piece, the complex was just catching on, after failing to work as a market-rate development when it was built. From The Times: “‘We were incapable of marketing the apartments at that time on an open-market rental,’ said Jerome Belson, president of Jerome Belson Associates, which manages the complex. ‘Today we could. The area has dramatically improved.’ Rents are low – the nonsubsidized pay a maximum of $913 for three bedrooms -but the waiting list for apartments is almost five years long.”

The addition of another tower (or two) would be startling, to say the least. But it seems like it may be upon us.

“It’s going to take them a while to buy out all the remaining people assuming they can. The ones remaining are up in age, let’s say. But it could be in the seven figures,” said the current tenant. “It’s a waiting game now between Vornado and Stellar and the tenants.”




  1. I certainly would welcome this development. Unlike historic parts of Tribeca, Independence Plaza is an eyesore. The additional jobs, tax revenue, and residents would be welcome IMO.

    If the city were serious about tackling its housing crisis (narrator – it’s not) it would upzone the handful of remaining parking lots left in Tribeca to allow more denisity.

    Don’t listen to what the NIMBY’s will say, Tribeca is not a low rise neighborhood.

  2. Well said, FiDiGuy, except the eyesore part. When I look at Independence Plaza I see 1300 homes and badly needed kaching for Tribeca stores and businesses, all in walking distance of mass transit. Hard to view that as blight. More will be welcome.

    It’ll be interesting to see where Councilmember Chris Marte stands on this. I’m one of those who feels he’s way too NIMBY. If real, this venture gives him a chance to go YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard).

    • I think FidiGuy is referring to the architecture as an eyesore (as I am), not the existence of lots of units. Modern buildings can certainly have as many units, if not more, and be designed to compliment the look/feel of the neighborhood.

    • Komanoff,
      Maybe there should be more development where there is space.
      Like the Adirondacks

      • Almost ALL of the Adirondacks are protected in the New York State Constitution to remain as “Forever Wild” so, no, there is NOT much space up there. :-)

        • Folks privileged to have second homes in the country, like the Adirondacks, no doubt would object to development.

          They’d be “NIMBY” themselves – though they seem to be OK with criticizing others as “NIMBY”

  3. I’d welcome this as well, but hopefully it’s party of a larger redevelopment. That entire facility is just hideous. From Vornado’s perspective, those units easily rent at like 30-50% discounts compared to market, the retail is a dud, and it’ll only get worse as the facility degrades. Modern construction would both create value and enhance the neighborhood.

    Construction of a new tower will probably help them shift tenants out of the old towers to get the dominos falling on some master plan. If I were them, I’d also be trying to bring BMCC into the mix—build them a modern facility in exchange for land/air rights to expand the project.

    • Completely agree, the entire development would, in an ideal world, be reconceived with a focus on re-connecting the street grid, adding street-level retail and substantially increasing housing density (in addition to correcting for the awful mid/late 20th-century architecture), with the community college housed in a taller onsite building and the riverfront portion lined with high-density residential/retail.

      Would be amazing to have Franklin connect to the riverfront again; not sure if that’s possible given the way the podium was constructed.

  4. We live here so people like you don’t have to!

  5. Does anyone know what Vornado is doing with that retail between Harrison and N. Moore. They kicked out all the retails tenants in 2015-2016, renovated the retail, and have left it empty ever since (other than the new Mexican restaurant). I don’t get it?

  6. People are forgetting this ” eyesore ” of Independence Plaza was filled with tenants who basically created a neighborhood called TriBeCa ! They fought for PA 234 and The supermarket ! No one wanted to live down here. So this so called eyesore created this neighborhood !!!

  7. The tenants back than thought the apartments would become Condos some day. They fought in court and lost against the corrupt owner!

  8. I just want to know why my comments are never being posted when I simply express my opinion. Not right

  9. I will say it again. My comment wasn’t posted before. I have no idea why. Independence plaza eyesore or not, without it there would be no TriBeCa . No PS 234, no Supermarket. There are old newspaper clipping from back in the day showing the history of this complex. Just a handful of original tenants still living there.

  10. Call a tenants association meeting to block this proposed monstrosity.

  11. For an area where LPC is so stringent and causes issues for renovations, I’m shocked that something as ugly as the overpass on Franklin, the BMCC buildings, and the towers exist still

  12. Thank you Native for your comments. I live on Harrison St
    I don’t want to have to get curtains!

  13. I have lived here since the 80s and the buildings may not look so great but the apartments themselves r spacious and some have spectacular views of the river and lovely terraces. And if you’re lucky, the rent is extremely low, so I can see how some can be jealous. But, we have a PLAZA that even has a pool although it was never open until stellar came and even then it and the workout room they built, wasn’t open for us low rent residents, only the new ones with the renovated apartments and the higher rents. These new residents find out pretty quickly how shoddy the plumbing and the floors are and how the water gets shut off at least once a month, and u pray that your new neighbors r quiet because the walls r thin. These new neighbors come and go after about a year especially when their rent gets hiked up. Is the same thing going to happen with these new towers? Of course! The whole thing is a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Reply to IPN Resident:

      A few corrections. I’m a 45 year long IPN resident. It was a great integrated community and it still is. The swimming pool at 40 Harrison St has been here since the buildings were finished. I remember swimming there, the fee was $100/year. It had a sauna and a steam room and was open to all, for the fee. It became too expensive to maintain and it was closed after a few years. Now it’s Imagine Swimming. The gym at 40 Harrison St is new since Stellar management took over. Annual memberships were open to all for about 15 years. It is definitely not just for “low rent” residents, same with the amenity room and speed cycle room.

      I totally agree with the plumbing problems. There are more people using the same old plumbing now than when IPN was originally built. That’s why there are constant shut offs. And worst of all, there is no insulation between apartments. Nada! I can hear my neighbors turning on their faucet and showering. And the apartment above mine must be a bowling alley…

      But back to the proposed buildings. I thought when IPN was constructed, they bought the air rights of the buildings that were here originally and in Washington Market Park. What about the garages below the plaza space, will they be destroyed and how? Yes, this could be a major disaster.

  14. This new plan sounds awful- let’s cram thousands more people onto a small plaza to make money for the developers. Just how will all the residents of IP live while they are residing next to a major construction project that will take two years to complete? Can you imagine a 40 story building being constructed next to your apartment building as you are trying to live your daily life? Quality of life for existing residents or neighborhoods is never a priority for developers.

  15. We went to a meeting hosted by Christopher Marte this evening. It was well attended, mostly by IP residents and some TriBeCa neighbors. Hopefully there will be more information coming out soon, but the proposed tower is not 40 stories but over 90 stories. It’s proposed to be 940 feet +/- tall. The tower as proposed would be double the height of the existing IP towers. There doesn’t seem to be much affordable housing offered.

    The tower will straddle two large 85 feet tall building blocks, approx. 9 stories each, which will loom over two long blocks of Greenwich Street from about Duane Street towards Harrison Street, overshadowing the small Federal row houses.

    The tower would cast shadows on Duane Park and possibly on Washington Market Park.

    It doesn’t seem like the residents of TriBeCa are informed of this project and how drastically this development would change the character and vibe of the neighborhood.

    Developer will present proposal to Community Board 1 meeting this Monday, December 11 at 6 pm. You can go in person at 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North or visit online

    If you have concerns about the scale and impact of this building on TriBeCa or Independent Plaza, please join your neighbors there and have your voice heard.

  16. I’ll be at the CB I meeting on Dec 11 and I hope many others who live in IPN will join as well. None of us want this to happen, so we need to come out in great numbers. If you plan to attend, bring ten others with you. We need to make our voices heard. Instead of building this monstrosity, we should be pushing for greater renovations to what exits already.