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Penthouse Offices in Union Square Offer Rooftop Farm Plots

By Mary Johnson | January 21, 2013 7:10am

MANHATTAN — For desk-bound New Yorkers who crave a little nature during the work day, a new option in the Union Square office rental market combines urban agriculture with the daily grind.

UrbanSpace, the development company responsible for the Mad. Sq. Eats festival in the Flatiron district and for the DeKalb Market in Brooklyn, leased the penthouse of 80 Fifth Ave., near East 14th Street, and divvied the space up into about 20 individual offices — each of which comes with access to a plot in the penthouse’s rooftop farm.

“The way it’s set up, all of the offices look out onto the farm area,” said Eldon Scott, 50, the founder of the American arm of the London-based UrbanSpace.

“So I’m not sure if that’s going to increase people’s productivity or decrease it, but it’s an experiment.”

The individual offices range in size — from single desks to a cluster of eight desks — and in price — starting at around $550 per month and topping out at $4,400.

Each office will be encouraged to grow something in the rooftop farm, which will use planters to house fruits and vegetables once planting season begins in March, Scott said.

“Flowers are lovely,” he explained. “[But] we encourage edible … and it has to be a legal substance.”

“Someone suggested chickens, but we thought that might be too much,” he added. “I happen to think it would be really fun to have a giant pumpkin patch.”

Scott said the company also intends to house a beehive on an upper level of the space and potentially sell the resulting honey in the Union Square Greenmarket.

Scott said several companies have already signed on to lease the space, which also offers unobstructed views of the city.

“The idea is to make the city more productive and more efficient,” Scott explained.

“We’re not going to feed a lot of people here. I think that part of it is symbolic. But the proximity of it to something natural is really the best part of this.”