NYC developers use vacant lots for “neighborhood building”

December 23, 2011 10:03AM

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From left: Douglaston Development Chairman Jeffrey Levine (top), Patricia Dunphy, senior vice president of Rockrose Development (bottom left), the Riverpark farm, the DeKalb Market and the Brooklyn Flea

With more than 600 stalled construction sites currently blighting the city thanks to the recession, developers have begun renting out their vacant lots, sometimes free of charge, to ventures that can lure foot traffic to the area. According to the New York Times, the developers hope the increased traffic will improve the neighborhood — and sales and leasing figures — in advance of their projects breaking ground.

For example, Alexandria Real Estate Equities has fostered a farm on the stalled site of the second Alexandria Center for Life Science tower off the East River. Chef Tom Colicchio’s adjacent restaurant Riverpark uses produce from the farm, a set-up that has attracted interest to what would otherwise be a construction fence.

Similarly, the Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn has brought crowds eager to shop to the site where City Point, a massive retail and housing project, will be erected.

Rockrose Development has agreed to let food trucks and the host of weekend pool parties occupy vacant lots near Court Square in Queens for no cost. “What we’re really doing is neighborhood building,” said Patricia Dunphy, a senior vice president at the firm. “The young people that these kinds of things attract are going to be our target group.”

That’s already proven to be a winning strategy for Douglaston Development, which brought the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg markets to a vacant lot adjacent to the Edge condominium in Williamsburg where a third tower is planned. The markets attracted as many as 15,000 people per day, and helped produce this year’s blistering sales pace, Douglaston Chairman Jeffrey Levine said. [NYT]