Vertical village

A new Two Bridges tower offers so much to do — residents might forget there’s a city outside their doors

When One Manhattan Square opens in late 2018 on the far East Side at 252 South Street, residents will have access to an astounding 100,000 square feet of amenity space. To name just a few of the special features planned, there’s a full basketball court, a two-lane bowling alley, squash court, golf simulator, 75-foot swimming pool, cigar room and tea pavilion.

“Our goal was to create spaces that would allow for meaningful use and socialization and really create community,” said Anna Zarro, senior vice president at Extell, the developer of the building. “We try to create properties that are going to have a strong response from people.”

Similar to the way tech companies offer amazing conveniences to their employees so that they don’t ever need to leave work, the amenities at One Manhattan Square effectively entice residents to stay in the building and interact with the surrounding area as little as possible. Why take your dog to the local park, for instance, when you can just bring him to the covered dog run downstairs?

Why take your dog to the park
when you can just bring him
to the covered dog run downstairs?

There’s good reason to offer lots of amenities in the building. The gritty neighborhood where One Manhattan Square is located — called Two Bridges — has until now managed to stave off the gentrification that has happened almost everywhere else in Manhattan. Fancy coffee shops are hard to find, and fish markets represent the height of the retail scene. In other words, it’s not exactly the type of place where buyers paying $1.2 to $4.5 million for an apartment are quite used to living.

Although the neighborhood is slowly changing — the New York Times declared nearby cocktail lounge Mr. Fong’s on Market Street the “unlikely new ‘it’ bar” in 2015 — it will probably move into overdrive once development wraps up in the area. In addition to One Manhattan Square, which will be the first luxury building to open in the neighborhood and is the only project that offers condos, there are plans for three major rental buildings: 259 Clinton Street, 247 Cherry Street (which, at 1,000 feet tall, will be the highest of the bunch) and 260 South Street.

“The projects remind me a little bit of what Trump did with the Riverside projects on the West Side,” said Ariel Tirosh, a broker with Douglas Elliman who specializes in the Lower East Side, referring to the Riverside South towers between 59th and 72nd streets. Those towers also offer spectacular views on the water, he pointed out, and there were no luxury buildings there until Trump and other developers came in. Now, of course, the area is essentially an extension of the Upper West Side.

Also like the West Side towers, projects in Two Bridges have faced their share of controversy; when One Manhattan Square was first being built, protesters, opposed to the impending changes to their neighborhood, called it the “building from hell.” (All of the buildings, including One Manhattan Square, have affordable units.)

Tirosh said he expects that One Manhattan Square and its neighboring rental towers will certainly raise the profile of the area, though he believes it’s not going to happen overnight. “Eventually, if the developers are careful, it will become a neighborhood,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time.”