Hip to Be Square… Hudson Square
Ellen Baer June 15, 2016, 9:15 a.m.
For decades, Hudson Square was known as New York City’s printing district, but that was then. Thanks to a dramatic shift in the market, Hudson Square is now a top destination for the city’s creative class, which is attracted to the neighborhood’s diversity, culture and personality.
World-class organizations like TripAdvisor and Horizon Media are flocking to the area for high-quality office space (outfits like Saatchi & Saatchi have been ensconced for a number of years now), numerous commercial and residential developments are underway and the dramatic improvements to the public realm are creating a pedestrian environment where retail can thrive. The Hudson Square Connection, the neighborhood’s business improvement district, is helping drive the incredible growth of this vibrant hub where more than 50,000-plus people come every day to work, live and explore.
Hudson Square’s own commercial market report found there was more than 550,000 square feet of leasing activity last year and a 4 percent vacancy rate. And, as our neighborhood continues to grow as a magnet for tech, advertising, media and information companies, we expect vacancy rates to remain low. Sixty percent of our local businesses are engaged in creative industries with media and communications representing 26 percent and technology representing 13 percent. While office availability remains low, Cushman & Wakefield recently reported that asking rents in the district soared 67 percent to $76.59 per square foot from 2010, further demonstrating that Hudson Square—loosely bound by Canal to West Houston Streets, south to north, and Avenue of the Americas to Greenwich Street, east to west—is one of Manhattan’s hottest neighborhoods today. And there is more on the horizon.
New York City is a 24/7 city and the Hudson Square of today is a 24/7 place. Our 2013 rezoning ensured that, while Hudson Square will remain a predominantly commercial neighborhood, new residential development would contribute to the buzz and the bustle. The impact was immediate: Related Companies is well underway on 261 Hudson Street, a 12-story, 201-unit building; Extell Development Company broke ground last August for the 20-story, 116-unit condominium building on 70 Charlton Street, which is slated for completion this fall; meanwhile, Connection Partners just completed its renovation of 286 Spring Street and now boasts Bauhaus-influenced floor-through apartments, becoming among the first of what will ultimately be several thousand units built in the neighborhood as a result of the rezoning.
As part of our commitment to enhance the community and position the neighborhood for continued growth, the Hudson Square Connection has undertaken several public-private partnerships. Through our partnership with New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the New York Tree Trust, we are planting and retrofitting trees using the Hudson Square Standard. This award-winning streetscape improvement plan is being hailed as the platinum standard for urban forestry, yielding big environmental and health benefits. We are now entering our final phase and, when completed, will have planted or retrofitted 250 trees in our neighborhood.
Through an additional partnership with the Parks Department, we are undertaking an exciting renovation of the park located on Spring Street and Avenue of the Americas. With construction set to begin later this year and completion scheduled for 2018, our new park will contribute to Hudson Square’s creative, “campus-like” culture, and serve as an inviting, sustainable area for workers, residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
Similarly we are proud of our partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to operate Freeman Plaza, a once barren block of land located on Varick Street between Broome and Watts Streets. Previously closed to the public, the area celebrated an inaugural opening in 2014 and now boasts trees, foliage and seating, including bistro-style tables, umbrellas and chairs for the 50,000-plus people who work, live and play in the neighborhood.
It is an exciting time to be in Hudson Square. With the help of our community, government partners, and the businesses and people that give this area its unique character, Hudson Square today is a center for innovation, where people are leveraging technology to redefine what it means to be creative. And the best is yet to come.
Ellen Baer is the president and CEO of the Hudson Square Connection, a business improvement district.