Square Blog

USP’s Annual Meeting Draws Large Turnout

May 17, 2011 9:43 AM

Emily Karpin

Despite the rain, over 200 area residents, employees and many other stakeholders came out for USP’s Annual Meeting & Networking Reception, which brought the community together to celebrate our successes over the past year. Guest speakers included NYC Comptroller John Liu and Nicholas Baume, Director and Chief Curator for the Public Art Fund, the organization responsible for bringing “The Andy Monument” to Union Square. The Norman Buchbinder Community Service Award was presented to James Murtha of The New School, a long-time USP Board member and supporter of USP’s programs. Executive Director Jennifer Falk highlighted USP's many accomplishments over the past year. After Board elections, the budget presentation, and a question-and-answer session, guests mingled and enjoyed music by a jazz trio from The New School and the W New York-Union Square's excellent hospitality. To read our 2011 Annual Report, click here.   

Over 200 Attend Google's Business Assistance Forum

March 29, 2011 12:00 AM

Sherin Bennett

Local business owners joined USP and our partners at the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce at Google Headquarters for our biggest Small Business Assistance Forum to date. Attendees learned about free, simple steps they can take to enhance their online marketing efforts, including claiming and personalizing their Google Places page and using Google Analytics to track website traffic. In addition, paid services like AdWords, Boost, and Tags were presented as cost-effective ways to reach potential customers. USP extends a big thank you to Google for hosting us, and to specialists Alex Abelin and Frederick Vallaeys for their terrific presentation, which can be downloaded from our website here.

Local Sandwich Shop in the News

February 24, 2011 6:34 PM

Sherin Bennett

Fredi Sandwich Bar, a new addition to the delicious offerings around Union Square, has been getting some positive attention lately. The cozy storefront at 28 East 12th Street features 13 different sandwiches, as well as soup, sliders, dessert sandwiches, wine and craft beer. Serious Eats praised their Grilled Chicken sandwich with Gruyere, caramelized onion and honey mustard, calling it “French onion soup in a sandwich.” The Wall Street Journal highlighted the family ties holding the operation together. Five members of the Horowitz family are involved in the business, and they named it after the family dog. Many of the recipes are family traditions. “My mom has been perfecting her meatloaf for 30 years,” said Greg Horowitz. Just looking at the slide show of offerings has the USP staff salivating – we can’t wait to take a lunchtime field trip!

Cleaner Air to Come in Union Square Park

February 24, 2011 6:23 PM

Sherin Bennett

On Tuesday, February 22nd, Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation that will ban smoking in New York City’s 1,700 parks including Union Square, as well as 14 miles of beaches, and in pedestrian plazas. The ban passed the City Council by a 36-12 margin, with supporters citing the health risks posed by secondhand smoke. According to Mayor Bloomberg, “Smoking in parks and beaches not only harms people trying to enjoy these recreational facilities, it also causes a litter problem that harms the beauty of our parks.” The Departments of Parks & Recreation and Transportation workers will be responsible for enforcing the law. Violators will be subject to $50 fines, and City officials anticipate that public pressure will be the number one enforcement mechanism. While this is one of the widest-reaching urban smoking bans, smoking is prohibited in many public parks and beaches, including Los Angeles city parks and Chicago parks with playgrounds. The ban will go into effect May 23, 2011.

14th and 3rd: Burger-to-be?

February 17, 2011 5:47 PM

Sherin Bennett

Construction is underway just east of Union Square on the southwest corner at 14th Street and 3rd Avenue to add a swanky new burger joint to our diverse array of eateries. Back in October 2010, the owners of Five Napkin Burger were granted permission by Community Board 3 to take over the space. In addition to their Five Napkin locations in Hell's Kitchen, the Upper West Side, and Astoria, the company also owns French Roast, Nizza, and Café D'Alsace. Still no word whether it will be a Five Napkin Burger or a French-themed burger and steak restaurant but we can't wait to sample their delicious offerings when our newest neighbor opens.

Restaurant Week Winter 2011

January 13, 2011 5:46 PM

Sherin Bennett

Online reservations are now available for the ever-popular Restaurant Week, now in its 19th year. More than 300 restaurants are participating, offering prix-fixe menus from January 24th to February 6th. You can explore a new venue or visit an old favorite and pay $24.07 for lunch or $35 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). Browse menus online and schedule a visit to some of the most renowned Union Square establishments. Blue Water Grill, Mesa Grill, Rosa Mexicana, OLiVES, Steak Frites,Tocqueville and Wildwood Barbeque are just some of the many locations to partake in this annual event. The promotion is not offered on Saturdays and restaurants have the option to offer the program on Sundays. Tables fill up quickly, so make sure and reserve your spot today!

New LABA Theater at the 14th Street Y

December 7, 2010 2:54 PM

Sherin Bennett

The Local East Village blog and Solar One’s Energy $mart Communities newsletter recently highlighted the renovation of the 14th Street Y’s theater space. After renovating its other facilities about a year ago, the Y’s theater is two-thirds of the way through its transition into a flexible black-box format. New features include an energy-efficient LED lighting system, new sound system, and ten extra feet of stage space. Five tons of wood from the old stage were recycled into a storage unit, classroom tables and shelves, and used in preschool art projects. The theater is home to LABA, the Y’s community arts program, and will provide community space for dance, theatre, music, puppetry, filmmaking, and multi-disciplinary arts. You can check out the new space during performances of “A Wonderfully Flat Thing” in December and January.

New Green Roof in Union Square

November 16, 2010 12:58 PM

Sherin Bennett

Union Square is now home to the City’s largest green roof on a residential building. The 14,000-square-foot green roof opens on Wednesday, November 17th at One Irving Place. Green roofs are an important part of New York City’s Green Infrastructure Plan, as they absorb storm water, reduce sewer overflows, and lower cooling costs. Although they have a higher installation price than conventional roofs, these costs are offset by a much longer lifespan and, for One Irving Place, $60,000 in tax credits

NYCDOT’s Safety Improvements Now in Place

September 28, 2010 12:06 PM

Andrew Lappin

On September 22nd, NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and community and business leaders celebrated the completion of the new pedestrian plaza and roadway improvements in our district. USP Executive Director Jennifer Falk praised DOT’s work on the project and expressed her confidence that the new plazas and traffic patterns “will not only enhance our vibrant neighborhood, but also make it safer for everyone who lives, works and visits Union Square every day.”

The Broadway/Union Square roadway improvements are fully operational and have met with widespread success. Pedestrians are pleased with safer crossings along 17th Street as new landscaped planters, bistro tables, chairs and umbrellas have been in full use since the plazas opened in mid-September. Bicyclists can now follow a protected bike lane along Broadway from 23rd to 15th Street. NYCDOT will monitor the neighborhood over the next six months to assess how the changes have met safety goals, and make adjustments as necessary. If you have thoughts or concerns, give DOT your feedback.

Zeckendorf Towers' New Escalators in Operation

August 11, 2010 5:31 PM

Andrew Lappin

After two years of planning and construction, a new moving stair system located at the northeast corner of 14th Street and 4th Avenue inside Zeckendorf Towers opened to the public last week to cheers from district transit users. The new, modern system replaced an old, out-dated model that was constantly plagued with service issues.

Jennifer Falk, Executive Director said, "We understand that having this key amenity out of service for so long was an inconvenience to our members, and we are grateful for your patience. Sometimes what appears to be a simple fix is actually quite complex, and we have proven that when we all work together we can make great things happen for our community."

Tree Pit Renovation Project Spruces Up 14th Street

August 11, 2010 5:16 PM

Andrew Lappin

As part of USP's district beautification efforts, 56 tree pits along 14th Street were given a complete makeover this spring. Work included the removal of the old, unsightly tree grates - which over time created trip hazards and were difficult to maintain - fertilization and aeration of the trees, and completed with an attractive, low-maintenance cobblestone design. This first phase of the project (see report) addressed about half of the inventory in the Union Square district. The next phase of the project is planned for Summer 2011, so if you are located within the BID district and are interested in participating in the program to upgrade your existing tree pits at no cost to the property owner, please contact Director of Economic Development William Kelley at 212 460-1204. 

Expanded Sanitation Hours, New Uniforms and More

August 11, 2010 5:01 PM

Andrew Lappin

As of July 1st, Union Square is getting even more attention when it comes to keeping the district clean and attractive. To meet the demands of the 59% increase in district pedestrian traffic since 2003, USP's new supplemental sanitation services contract with Atlantic Maintenance includes expanded service hours with year-round coverage for Union Square Park. Additional components include cleaning services for the new park restrooms, weekly power washing on a rotating basis of the district's busiest corners and new park plazas, and a third daily bagged refuse removal from April – October during the busier warmer months. In addition, another 24 USP-branded dynasty trash receptacles have been placed throughout the district, bringing our new receptacle total to 96 out of a total inventory of 125 cans.

Local Eateries to Participate in Restaurant Week

July 11, 2010 12:00 AM

Andrew Lappin

From July 12th to September 6th (excluding Saturdays), foodies can come to Union Square and experience some of the area’s best dining at a greatly discounted rate. NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2010 is returning with the same three-course prix-fixe lunch and prix-fixe dinner prices charged since 2006: $24.07 and $35 (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). Participating restaurants include newer establishments like Maialino and Aldea, in addition to the stalwarts of our neighborhood, such as Japonais, Dévi, OLiVES, and Rosa Mexicano. Online reservations are available now, so make sure and reserve your spot today!

USP's Spring Work Around the Square

April 26, 2010 11:02 AM

Andrew Lappin

Spring work is underway throughout the Union Square district.  Both USP Clean Team staff and our partner agencies have been hard at work getting the area ready for the busy warm summer months.  In Union Square Park, the park's monuments have been power washed, new flags have been installed on the flagpoles, and the sprinkler system has been activated.  Blondie's Treehouse, USP's landscaping firm, has installed 200 shrubs and over 900 perennials around the park's statues, along the transverses, and in the triangle park area to the east.  Repainting of the park's black wrought iron fencing is also taking place.  Our partners at the MTA have been hard at work both inside and outside the 14th Street-Union Square subway station - fixing broken floor tiles and repainting subway entrances. And the Clean team has commenced district painting.  To date, 63 green lamp posts, 45 grey lamp posts, 20 green poles by the bus stops, and 10 handrails in the park have all been painted. Stay tuned for more spring work as we begin power washing of the district's most heavily trafficked corners.  Should you notice any areas in need of attention, please contact Tom Curitore, Director of Operations, and we'll add your item to our spring to do list.

Whose Falafel Is Your Favorite Union Square?

April 16, 2010 2:00 AM

Andrew Lappin

In an article for Serious Eats, writer Ed Levine compares several "falafeleterias," all of which are located in the Union Square neighborhood.  According to this aficionadoMaoz is the best falafel in the area, highlighting their excellent carrot salad and pickled eggplant.  To make your own determination and get your falafel fix, USP recommends taking a walk around the area to check out Maoz, University Pita, Chickpea, Pita JoeRainbow Falafel & Shawarma, and Murray's Falafel.

Park Clean Team Is Back At Work!

April 1, 2010 12:00 PM

Tom Curitore

Starting today, USP’s special Park Cleaning Task Force kicks it into high gear to ensure that Union Square Park looks its best during the busy, warm weather months.  The park-dedicated team of 5 workers is on site 7 days a week, working closely with our partners at the Parks Department to keep the area looking vibrant.  The team’s main focus is to address added sanitation needs as usage of the park increases in the warm, sunny days ahead, and work includes bagging litter, removing trash from plant beds, and power washing the plazas.

Register Your Business and Take Part in a Street Fair

March 31, 2010 6:07 PM

William Kelley

In an effort to give New York City street fairs a local flavor, the Mayor’s Office and City's Department of Small Business Services are collaborating with local neighborhood organizations to encourage district businesses to apply for a booth within a street fair coming to their area. Registered businesses will be given preferred placement in front of their business location. From April through October, the greater Union Square area plays host to over a dozen street fairs. There is also the possibility that participating neighborhood businesses may be eligible for a substantial discount once a level of interest by local businesses has been determined. For more information, send your business name and contact info here.

RSVP Now for Spring Business Forum & Networking Event

March 17, 2010 11:35 AM

William Kelley

Join us on Monday, March 22nd at 5:30 PM to learn about free and low-cost energy efficiency programs that will reduce your business energy costs. USP will also launch our "Go Green to Save Green" grant program aimed at helping qualifying businesses implement energy efficiency measures.  Email us to RSVP to this free networking event, or to find out more information about the grant program. 

Gearing Up for Spring Cleaning & Street Tree Planting

February 24, 2010 2:23 PM

Tom Curitore

Even though it's cold outside, USP is busy preparing for the district’s spring cleaning and the coming warmer months.  Repainting street furniture from lampposts to mailboxes, graffiti removal and power washing are all set to begin in early April as is the additional park Clean Team.  Landscapers are busy tagging plants for spring planting and new bistro tables, chairs and umbrellas as well as trash receptacles and lamppost planters on are order for this season. More

In addition, our partners at NYC Parks & Recreation are getting ready for tree planting season and USP has prepared a list of locations that require replacement.  Help us keep the district beautiful by reporting any missing or dead street trees along your street, or suggesting areas that require special attention once district cleaning commences.

Spring Weather & Events Are Just Around The Corner!

February 18, 2010 2:26 PM

USP Team

The cold winter months can make us forget that spring doesn't just bring flowers, it is also the start of the busy summer season in Union Square.  Don't miss out on the exciting (and free!) happenings in and around the park including annual events like the NYC Grows Festival (Sunday, April 25th).  If volunteering is more your thing, roll up your sleeves on Saturday, May 15th for It's My Park! Day, which includes raking, planting and other beautification activities with the USP Team. More

Summer in the Square programming kicks off on Thursday, June 17th with lululemon athletica's new running class and yoga led by area instructors.  Kids won't miss out because many of their favorite entertainers will be back at noon to delight, and our partners at Live at Best Buy have special performances in store for our evening timeslots.

Most important, we would be honored if you would join us on Monday, May 24th at our Annual Meeting & Networking Reception to learn more about our work and meet your neighbors. 

See you around the Square!

New Union Square Playground Getting Rave Reviews

January 20, 2010 10:00 AM

Jennifer Falk

From The Villager: The new, expanded Union Square Park playground opened two weeks ago... [and] word got around quickly to children and parents, who flocked to the space at the north end of the park... “We couldn’t be more thrilled that the Union Square Park’s expanded playground is open,” Jennifer Falk, executive director of the partnership, said. “The kids have given it a huge thumbs up and parents and caregivers have been overwhelmingly positive.”

123 Third Gets the Word Out About 'East Union Square'

January 19, 2010 10:00 AM

William Kelley

From Curbed.com: Freshly topped out at the corner of 14th Street, the new 123 Third Avenue condo building is starting to dip its toe into the menacing waters of the Manhattan real estate market. The narrow 19-story, 47-unit development (with outdoor garden featuring a movie screen) has announced a "late fall 2009" opening for its sales office... If units were to hit the market right now at $1000/ft., mark my words, this would be a run away sellout."

New York Times' Sam Sifton Reviews Maialino

January 19, 2010 10:00 AM

Carin Cardone

From the New York Times: Maialino, which the restaurateur Danny Meyer recently opened on the ground floor of the Gramercy Park Hotel. The concept is that of a Roman trattoria. The food fits the bill. The restaurant, though, is more Roman-ish than purely Roman, and is probably best defined as a Danny Meyer restaurant, from first greeting to last, cheerful goodbye. It’s very good."

$25 And Under: Dos Toros Taqueria

January 6, 2010 1:00 AM

Emily Karpin

From the New York Times: If the Dos Toros Taqueria just off Union Square brings to mind the sort of fresh, quick and cheap eating found at Mexican joints in the San Francisco Bay Area, that’s by design... the attitude at Dos Toros may be the most Californian thing about it, that laid-back confidence. The Kremers sweat the small things in the kitchen. Then they let the food speak for itself.

New York Mag Features Union Square Wonderland

December 27, 2009 1:00 AM

Jennifer Falk

From New York Mag: The beautiful, brand-new 15,000-square-foot kiddie Shangri-la pictured here has instantly raised the playground bar citywide. It’s the result of a year and a half of construction... and seemingly endless consultations with learning experts, botanists (to make sure the plants wouldn’t be poisonous), and neighborhood parents. Learn more about the 15 Coolest Features.

Nordstrom Rack Scheduled To Open May 2010

December 21, 2009 1:00 AM

William Kelley

From A Fine Blog: I always wondered why there wasn't greater use of windows on the 14th Street frontage of the former Virgin Megastore. Aside from the marquee above the door and a couple of underutilized windows, the Virgin was much like a large cave. Not so with the new Nordstrom Rack that is scheduled to open on May 11th, 2010.

Health Store Joins Union Square Influx

November 23, 2009 1:00 AM

Jennifer Falk

From the New York Observer: Price Wise Health & Beauty Aids is adding its brand to the Union Square assemblage, which reads like an ode to American consumerism: Whole Foods, Jamba Juice, Sephora, lululemon, DSW, Petco, Vitamin Shoppe, Bank of America, Staples, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks. The neighborhood is also home to one of the city’s busiest subway stations.

Union Square: A bright spot in New York's economy

November 11, 2009 1:00 AM

From The Villager: This year has witnessed many milestones in the ongoing renaissance of the Union Square district. While New York City and the nation struggle to break free from this recession, Union Square stands as a rare bright spot and is poised to remain a vibrant neighborhood during these worrisome times.

The Micro-Economy of Union Square

September 27, 2009 12:00 AM

Jennifer Falk

From NY Magazine: Retail activity has slowed throughout New York, but one neighborhood is still a commercial powerhouse.

Culinary Stars Raise Money for Union Square

September 24, 2009 12:00 AM

From NY 1 News: This evening New Yorkers are invited to get a taste of Union Square in one of the city's largest culinary events. During the 14th Annual Harvest in the Square, chefs from area restaurants will cook up dishes for more than 1,200 people.

Commercial Real Estate Booming in Union Square

August 14, 2009 3:00 PM

From NY 1 News: It seems to be the same story throughout the city; rents are down and commercial vacancy rates are way up. Yet, one neighborhood is bucking the trend. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

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