A new report on Union Square touts the economic benefits of the neighborhood’s mix of businesses, housing and amenities in close proximity.
Leaders of the Union Square Partnership, the area’s business improvement organization, detailed the area’s recent commercial leases and business openings in its annual Commercial Market report.
The report highlights economic indicators that its authors say position the neighborhood as a strong example of a “15-minute neighborhood,” an urban concept in which most daily necessities and services, like work, shopping, education, recreation and healthcare are all within a 15-minute walk or bike ride.
“Union Square-14th Street’s continued growth as one of New York’s economic engines is a testament to the district’s vibrancy. This year’s Commercial Market Report is a culmination of Union Square’s value to businesses as a true 15-minute neighborhood,” said Julie Stein, the nonprofit’s executive director.
The report shows a rise in business openings since the pandemic in the business improvement district, which covers a large area centered on 14th Street. Union Square welcomed 126 new businesses since January 2020, which include 54% eateries, 28% retail and 18% neighborhood services like health and wellness.
This total is increased by 40 business from around the same time last year. The next year is already slated to be busy, with 22 more business opening soon.
A press release accompanying the report notes that pedestrian traffic is key to economic growth as is the diversity of businesses and amenities. The report notes that recent visitor traffic reached 98% of 2019 levels.
While the indicators are overall positive in the report, it also shows that the district is not immune from citywide economic trends. The total amount office leases is slightly down from the year before. The study said that the area had 450,000 square feet of office space leased since January 2022 across tech, finance, publishing, and other sectors. Last year the figure was 485,000 square feet of office space. The city on the whole has seen the office space market slow in 2023.
One of the biggest new leases that this year’s report included was the 33,000 square-foot Target store at 10 Union Square East, which will bring 75 new jobs to the area.
Though Microsoft had leased 150,000 square-feet of space at The Bromley Companies’ 122 Fifth Ave. building last year, the company formally moved in this summer.
The report also notes that Zero Irving, also frequently referred to as the Union Square Tech Hub, has leased nearly all of its space to major tech and finance firms. The 176,000-square-foot glass building located along East 14th Street is “nearing completion,” New York YIMBY reports, and expected to open this year. Its biggest firms are Civic Hall, a conference center and digital learning space, and GameChanger, a sports tech company.
The report also noted the partnership’s USQNext, a plan to revamp Union Square Park and add street safety and public space features to the area.