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BY LEVAR ALONZO
Cable sports giant ESPN is setting sail for the South Street Seaport, with a plan to open its first New York City studios at Pier 17 next year.
Seaport developer Howard Hughes Corporation announced on Oct. 10 that ESPN would occupy approximately 19,000-square-feet in the swanky waterfront development. The studio is expected to open in 2018 and it will be the pier’s first tenant to open its doors.
“We are pleased to welcome ESPN as the latest addition to the Seaport District. They will bring a new dimension of entertainment to the neighborhood with live daily telecasts from Pier 17 in what I believe will become one of the most iconic studio spaces in the country,” said David R. Weinreb, CEO of Howard Hughes Corp., which is plowing $731 million into the seaport area. “This is yet another sign of Lower Manhattan’s evolution into a vibrant hub for the media, technology and creative sectors.”
The exterior of the Pier 17 building — which is rigged for multi-color illumination — was lit up in red Oct. 10 to welcome ESPN to the waterfront.
Local real estate maven Luis Vazquez said that the deal with ESPN is a good move for the development of the district. He noted that adding office space to the mix of mostly retail and food-service businesses coming to Pier 17 brings more balance to the area.
“Overall it was a smart move to move away from bringing in more retail. We already have a lot more retail businesses coming to the area,” said Vazquez. “Workers in the office spaces can go out and enjoy the business around their offices.”
Pier 17 will also be the home of new restaurants from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Chang, which are part of a larger piece-by-piece rollout of restaurants and a multiuse rooftop. All are expected to be open by next summer.
ESPN will start a multi-year lease of the space producing multiple studio shows from the facility, as well as radio broadcasts, and online content. The new location will provide ESPN with unique opportunities to create content within the studio, outside the facility, and on the rooftop with views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and city skyline.
“The Seaport District production facility is a state-of-the-art content factory that will allow us to produce differentiated studio content for both television and digital,” said Connor Schell, executive vice president for content at ESPN. “The flexible spaces, both indoor and outdoor, allow us to take advantage of all that New York City has to offer.”