New Rental Tower Rises Where Sonny Rollins Once Lived
By RONDA KAYSEN DEC. 12, 2017
A rendering of the Rollins, a new rental building on the Lower East Side, on the site where the jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins once rented an apartment. It is part of Essex Crossing, a $1 billion mixed-use project, and will begin leasing apartments in January. Moso Studio
In the late 1950s, the jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins rented a garden-level apartment on the Lower East Side with his wife. He spent his days practicing on the Williamsburg Bridge, honing his craft while he took a hiatus from recording and performing.
“That was a fond place for me,” Mr. Rollins, who is now 87 and lives in Woodstock, N.Y., said in a telephone interview. “It really has a place in my heart.”
That tenement building is gone now. It was demolished in 2015, decades after nearly all of the neighborhood had been bulldozed in the late 1960s in a failed urban renewal effort that reduced much of the area to parking lots and displaced around 2,000 people. But now the entire area is being redeveloped as Essex Crossing, a $1 billion mixed-use project. And on the site where Mr. Rollins once lived, a 15-story rental building that is part of Essex Crossing will begin leasing market-rate apartments in early January. The building’s name will be The Rollins.
Mr. Rollins, who is now 87, in 2010. There is a grassroots effort to name the Williamsburg Bridge, where he spent his days practicing, in his honor. Chad Batka for The New York Times
“I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed,” Mr. Rollins said of the tribute. This comes at a time when a grassroots effort to name the Williamsburg Bridge in his honor has been gaining steam. In October, a bill was introduced to the New York City Council to rename the bridge. Developers learned of Mr. Rollins’s connection to the neighborhood from the campaign.
The Rollins, at 145 Clinton Street, includes 107 market-rate apartments, a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedrooms. An additional 104 affordable units were leased earlier this year through a lottery that attracted nearly 94,000 applicants. Those tenants will begin moving in next month.
The building, designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, will also house a Target and a Trader Joe’s, both to open in 2018. Another 15,000 square feet of retail in the building has not yet been leased.
Essex Crossing includes nine sites spread over six acres, mostly along the south side of Delancey Street, from Essex Street to the Williamsburg Bridge. The project, developed by Delancey Street Associates, an umbrella group of three developers chosen by the city in 2013, will ultimately deliver around 1,000 units of housing, half of them permanently affordable. Essex Crossing will also include retail, offices, space for a public school, the Essex Street Market and a 15,000-square-foot park designed by West 8 that will open next year, adjacent to the Rollins.
“We see this as being a real destination for people,” said Donald Capoccia, a principal of BFC Partners, a developer in Delancey Street Associates.
The Rollins will have a children’s playroom, a pet spa, a gym and a rooftop terrace with grills. A mural will be painted along the western facade, on a stucco canvas that stretches 220 feet long, by an artist to be selected in January.
Rents for market-rate apartments will start at $3,150 for a studio; $4,450 for a one-bedroom; $5,800 for a two-bedroom; and $8,450 for a three-bedroom. The rents will be among the highest in the neighborhood at a time when the rental market has slowed, particularly at the top. In the third quarter of 2017, the median asking rent for a one-bedroom in the Lower East Side was $2,589 a month, with only 34 of the available one-bedrooms (about 10 percent of the inventory) asking a higher rent than what the Rollins will be charging, according to data provided by StreetEasy.
But the development team points to a list of inquiries with 1,000 names long as evidence of interest in the property, despite a soft market.
“This product is going to speak to a more established and more mature audience,” said Matthew Villetto, a senior vice president at Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, which is leasing the property. “It’s going to speak to people who want a more elevated living experience.”