HUDSON SQUARE — Companies and stores coming to Hudson Square in the next few years will dramatically change the former printing district, the head of its business improvement group told DNAinfo on a recent walking tour.
Hudson Square —the neighborhood north of the Holland Tunnel that is roughly bounded by West Houston Street, Avenue of the Americas, Canal Street and Greenwich Street — has major growth on the horizon, Hudson Square Connection president and CEO Ellen Baer said.
"This is the home of the innovation economy, and the retail and streetscape are catching up with what's going on in the area," Baer said.
A Pret a Manger sandwich shop is scheduled to open on the corner of Hudson and Charlton streets in the spring, and a Citibank location will open on the corner of Varick and King streets in about 60 days, Baer said. Gourmet grocer Hudson Square Market is also on the way.
The Hudson Square Connection, which was launched in July 2009, expects new employers in the area to draw in additional retailers.
The Children's Museum of the Arts opened its new Charlton Street location on Saturday, and Pearson P.L.C., the publisher of The Financial Times, will relocate to Hudson Street between Charlton and Vandam streets by summer 2014, the group announced on Sept. 19.
Proposed rezoning of 18 blocks of the neighborhood would bring massive change to Hudson Square if approved through the city's public land use review process.
Trinity Real Estate, which owns six million square feet in 18 Hudson Square buildings, will request that the city allow residential building and conversions in the neighborhood and limit building heights, according to a draft scope of work.
The area's current zoning allows manufacturing and commercial uses of land but prohibits residential development and sets no height limits on buildings.
"The purpose of the proposed rezoning is to create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood in Hudson Square by addressing the neighborhood’s significant challenges while preserving its essential character," Trinity's draft scope of work reads.
"The rezoning would support this objective by encouraging Hudson Square’s evolution from a neighborhood with historically high retail vacancy rates and little street activity into a true mixed-use community where New Yorkers work and live."
The group, which is the real estate arm of Trinity Church, has held land in Lower Manhattan since Queen Anne of England granted it farmland in 1705.
Approval of the proposed rezoning would also allow Trinity to build a major, yet-to-be-disclosed development and a public elementary school on the northeast corner of Varick and Canal streets, which is used as public art space now.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said his group has pushed for Hudson Square's rezoning for years.
"We would like to see a rezoning that will reduce the allowable height and size of buildings," he said.
However, community members will need to evaluate whether they think the size of the future development at Varick and Canal streets is reasonable, Berman said.
A public scoping meeting on the rezoning is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 27 at the Department of City Planning, at 22 Reade St.