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Community Space With Hydroponic Grow Wall Opening Under Union Square Hyatt

 GrowNYC is hoping to open a community center in Union Square by November.
Project Farmhouse
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UNION SQUARE — Union Square is growing green.

The nonprofit behind the Union Square Greenmarket plans to open a new community space in the neighborhood to host events and classes on sustainability and nutrition, and provide a spot for other nonprofits in the city to gather near Union Square, according to GrowNYC Assistant Director Julie Walsh.

The space, called “Project Farmhouse,” is expected to open at 76 E. 13th St., near Fourth Avenue, by November with a test kitchen, a conference room and a vertical grow wall with moving trays designed to rotate plants so they all get the ideal amount of water, fertilizer and light, said Kate Chura of GrowNYC, who is overseeing the project.

With rents soaring in New York, finding space for meeting has become nearly impossible — especially during the winter when it's difficult to meet outdoors — so the new space will be a welcome home for GrowNYC, Walsh said.

“Until now we didn’t have a permanent, year-round home in which to showcase efforts to provide services and education to the general public,” she said. “This is really an opportunity for us to have a year-round home and to meet as many New Yorkers as possible.”

GrowNYC got the opportunity to develop the space after the Hyatt Union Square made a deal with the city to operate a community space on its ground level, and with the organization’s long history in Union Square, Chura said GrowNYC was a natural partner.

The Hyatt will supply about half of the build-out, paying for "unsexy but essential infrastructure" like HVAC, with GrowNYC in charge of the aesthetics and green features like the hydroponic grow wall, Walsh said.

“We’re working together to make this as green a build as possible,” she said.

Construction has already started, with skeletons of walls beginning to rise, and the high-ceilinged room will measure about 3,500 square feet when the space is fully built out.

The plan is to open the space by the fall, but Chura said GrowNYC is still looking for about $300,000 in funding to complete the project.

A representative of the Hyatt did not respond to a request for comment.