East River Plaza Mall: The Hidden Gem of East Harlem, New York

The Historical Transformation of East River Plaza

East River Plaza has a rich history that many might not be aware of. Initially, the site was home to the Washburn Wire Factory, a significant industrial establishment in East Harlem, NYC.

Blumenfeld Development Group, Ltd., a full-service real estate development firm, spearheaded the transformation into a retail power center. This change was not just a commercial venture but also a part of the broader revitalization efforts for East Harlem.

Forest City Realty Trust initially spearheaded the plaza’s redevelopment, transforming it into a commercial hub with Blumenfeld. In 2018, Brookfield Properties, a leading player in the US retail real estate landscape, acquired Forest City Realty Trust and has since continued to build on the plaza’s reputation. This transition has sustained and amplified the plaza’s positive impact on the local economy and job market.


The redevelopment process was meticulous, ensuring the new structure would serve the community in multiple ways. Every aspect, from initial planning to the completion of construction, was meticulously thought out to ensure that East River Plaza would be a vibrant and convenient place to shop. Today, the plaza is a testament to successful urban redevelopment, blending retail convenience with community needs.

The transformation of East River Plaza is a story of vision, collaboration, and community engagement. It’s not just a shopping center; it’s a symbol of East Harlem’s resilience and growth. The plaza has become an integral part of the community, serving economic and social functions.

A Shopper’s Paradise: The Tenants of East River Plaza

When it comes to shopping, East River Plaza offers a variety of options that cater to every need and preference. The plaza has several big-name tenants, including Costco, Target, and Aldi. The combination of stores at the plaza offers an extensive selection of items, including groceries, home essentials, tech gadgets, and apparel.

Burlington, Ashley, and Bob’s Discount Furniture are also part of the tenant lineup, offering a range of furniture and home decor options. These stores are located on Level 3A and Level 4A, making it easy for shoppers to find what they want without leaving the plaza. For fitness enthusiasts, Planet Fitness offers a convenient location to work out.

East River Plaza Harlem
East River Plaza Harlem” by Jim.henderson is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

But the plaza isn’t just about shopping; it also provides essential services. The Mt. Sinai Dialysis Center offers medical services, while SP+ Parking and El Barrio Car Service care for transportation needs. This makes East River Plaza a shopping destination and a comprehensive service center.

East River Plaza may be on your list if you’re in Harlem and looking for things to do in New York City. The plaza is a comprehensive hub for shopping and lifestyle services thanks to its varied tenant mix.

The Artistic Side of East River Plaza

Art and culture are integral to any community, and East River Plaza is no exception. The plaza has a dedicated art gallery that features work from emerging and local artists. Murals have also been a part of the East Harlem fabric, and the plaza has sponsored several, even before its construction was complete.

Artists like Vic Garcia and Franco the Great have displayed their work at the plaza, adding an artistic flair to the shopping experience. These artworks are not just for show; they are a part of the plaza’s initiative to support local talent. The art pieces you see while shopping reflect East Harlem’s vibrant artistic community.

In commemoration of 9-11, East River Plaza sponsored a mural created by local East Harlem residents to honor first responders. This shows that the plaza is not just a commercial space but also a community space that respects its history and the people who make it what it is.

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So, the next time you’re at East River Plaza, take some time to appreciate the art. It’s not just decoration; it’s a celebration of the community’s talent and history.

Events and Community Engagement at East River Plaza

Community engagement is at the heart of East River Plaza’s mission. The plaza hosts a variety of events aimed at bringing the community together. From art and entertainment to family-focused gatherings, there’s always something happening. For instance, the plaza recently hosted its first-ever Fall Festival, featuring arts and crafts, face painting, and pumpkin decorating for young shoppers.

A standout occasion at the plaza is its 8th Annual Holiday Concert, which showcased the talents of Vy Higgensen’s Sing Harlem Choir. Music, art, and community unite in these events, making the plaza more than just a shopping center. It’s a place where the community can come together to celebrate, relax, and enjoy.

East River Plaza Harlem
East River Plaza” by Hobo Matt is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The plaza hosts unique events like the Sunday Cinema-Rooftop Theater & Drive-In Movie series. The most recent one was held on September 17, 2023, featuring the film “The Super Mario Bros.” These events offer a unique experience and a break from the usual shopping routine.

Community giving is another aspect that sets the plaza apart. East River Plaza and its tenants regularly recognize and support organizations that serve East Harlem. This shows that the plaza is not just about business; it’s about building a stronger, more connected community.

Getting to and around East River Plaza is designed to be as convenient as possible. The plaza offers over 1,000 parking spots, ensuring that you’ll find a place to park your car. If you prefer not to drive, El Barrio Taxi service is available right from Level 1A of the plaza, making it easy to get a ride.

Public transportation is another viable option for reaching the plaza. Detailed maps and information are available to guide you, whether you’re coming by bus or subway. This makes the plaza easily accessible, even if you don’t own a car.

The plaza’s management office is open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, for those who like to plan. Security is available 24/7, ensuring visitors’ safe and secure environment. Store hours may vary, so checking the directory for specific times is advisable.

In summary, whether you’re driving, taking public transport, or hailing a taxi, East River Plaza has ensured that your visit is as convenient as possible. With ample parking and multiple transportation options, getting there is a breeze.

The Economic Impact of East River Plaza

The economic impact of East River Plaza on East Harlem cannot be overstated. The plaza has significantly contributed to the local economy, providing jobs and boosting retail sales. Its diverse range of tenants ensures that money spent at the plaza circulates within the community, supporting local businesses and services.

The plaza also supports community organizations and initiatives. For example, it has been involved in economic development plans to provide space and tax breaks for small businesses in East Harlem. This shows that the plaza is a commercial entity and a community partner invested in the area’s growth.

Moreover, the potential for creating a Business Improvement District (BID) in the area has been discussed. While past attempts have not been successful, the presence of a thriving commercial hub like East River Plaza could tip the scales in favor of a BID, providing additional resources for community development.

In conclusion, East River Plaza is not just a shopping center; it’s an economic engine driving growth and development in East Harlem. Its impact extends beyond retail, influencing various aspects of community life, from job creation to urban development.


East River Plaza stands as a multifaceted community hub in East Harlem. It’s not just a place to shop but where art, community, and commerce come together.

Its history is a testament to successful urban redevelopment, and its future looks promising with potential residential towers and community development initiatives. East River Plaza is more than just a commercial space; it’s a living, breathing part of East Harlem that continues to evolve and grow.

So, visit East River Plaza the next time you find yourself in East Harlem. You’ll find it’s not just a shopping center; it’s a community gathering place that offers something for everyone.

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