Lower East Side BID Bringing “DayLife” Street Festival to Orchard

Posted on: April 5th, 2012 at 6:45 am by

Last night, the Lower East Side BID and DesigNYC presented plans to the Economic Development Committee of Community Board 3 for its proposed Sunday festival on Orchard Street. The meeting was fairly casual and probably the most comfortable to date. Three words – plush leather chairs.

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Photo Credit: Dub Studios

The Orchard Street pedestrian mall as we now know it was spawned in 1973 by executive order from Mayor Lindsay. Four decades later, the weekly tradition, where street merchants peddle their wares five feet from the building line, is pretty much dead in the water.  Just take a stroll, and you’ll see.  The BID aims to revive and revitalize the three block stretch between East Houston and Delancey with an ambitious pilot called “DayLife” on June 3.

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DayLife began as a nameless project that was kicked around BID offices for a number of years, and is just now coming to fruition. Executive Director Bob Zuckerman explained that the moniker is the product of a collaboration with SVA last summer in which the school brainstormed solutions to bring more foot traffic to this part of the neighborhood. As all us residents know, crowds overrun the streets for nightlife, but not so much during the day.

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The boxes

Design firm DesigNYC then paired the BID with Dub Studios. Company co-founder Michael Piper presented the DayLife plan in three components:

  1. The Boxes – the nuts and bolts of the event. Each box carries the contents needed, including foldout table, umbrella, and astroturf. Vendors rent these free of charge (with deposit), and are stored in the BID parking lots (SPURA lots).
  2. The Market – keeping the setup more “open air” without white tents causing barriers for pedestrians and store owners.
  3. Context – categorized the three blocks of Orchard Street into separate sections, each with distinctive “programming.” The food section will live between East Houston and Stanton where there’s a higher concentration of restaurants; the area between Rivington and Stanton is more boutique-driven and will be treated as such; north of Delancey are the “legacy” vendors, an area they hope to transform into a performance space with music and dancing.

There will be thirty-six tables for vendors, with first priority given to merchants on Orchard. Dotting the three-block fair will be activity stations like miniature golf and ping pong (SPiN New York is already on board to participate). If all goes well during the June 3 pilot, then the BID hopes to return for four consecutive Sundays in the fall.

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To be honest, though, the target demographic doesn’t seem too representative of the whole population. That it might cater more toward the foodie/artisanal/fashionista set. Some of our thoughts were actually echoed by Susan Stetzer (surprise!) who voiced concern about the event not marketing everyday goods to “everyday” people.

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Pedestrian Mall, 2012

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