A stalled construction site in Kips Bay is probably the last place you’d expect to find a 6000-plant farm. But at 430 East 29th Street, Riverpark Farm is making a statement about how urban space can be utilized in innovative ways.
Conceived by the life sciences REIT Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the farm is located on a 15,000-square-foot parcel within the Alexandria Center for Life Science, a $200 million Silver LEED for Core and Shell development. The firm hopes to eventually move forward with the second phase of the project, which would involve two more towers. One of those towers would rise in place of the farm. But in the interim, Alexandria and its founder, Joel Marcus, have partnered with Riverpark restaurant chef and co-founder Sisha Ortuzar in cultivating the farm, whose eventual bounty will be transferred to other parts of the 4-acre development once construction on the stalled tower proceeds. Riverpark is currently a tenant within the Alexandria Center, and actually approached Marcus about the concept. It was an easy sell; Alexandria already operates an urban farm on a similar campus in San Diego.
GrowNYC, a New York City-based non-profit that promotes green markets, community gardens, and other educational initiatives, helped create and promote the farm, which could serve as a model – and perhaps a job catalyst – for other stalled construction sites throughout the five boroughs. The farm is currently producing around 85 different crops that are used in the Riverpark restaurant: peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach. This fall, the restaurant hopes to install a 12-seat farmer’s table for patrons to dine al fresco in what would be one of New York City’s most unlikely culinary destinations.