Rent Here and Eat Well

By C. J. Hughes

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Developers are betting that full stomachs will equal happy renters.

When Frankie Celenza is home, hungry and doesn’t feel like cooking, relief can be found an elevator and an escalator ride away.

A faster-than-Grubhub trip lands him inside DeKalb Market Hall, a mix of sandwich shops and noodle joints that’s essentially in the basement of City Tower, Mr. Celenza’s Downtown Brooklyn rental building.

Yes, it can feel weird to live life under a single roof with the food hall, he said, but one-stop shopping is compelling.

“I sometimes would prefer to take a walk down the block,” said Mr. Celenza, 32, a chef and a host of an online cooking show. “But there has to be 1,000 things there to try. And it has something for everyone, so why not?”

Where developers once wielded yoga studios, wine cellars and pet spas in amenity wars, the food hall is becoming the weapon of choice these days.

Recalling the food courts of malls but with a homespun vibe and dimmer lighting, food halls are popping up in and around developments, which hope to use them to win over buyers and renters.

“They are absolutely a factor in marketing,” said Rohan Mehra, a co-founder of the development firm Prusik Group, which is building the shopping portion of Essex Crossing, the mixed-use mega-project on the Lower East Side.

Among the stores offered across the nine-building project is Essex Market, a food hall that relocated this spring from its decades-old home across Essex Street to the lower floors of the Essex, a 26-story rental on Delancey Street that has 195 units, from studios to three-bedrooms. Market-rate units, which make up half of the building, are about 80 percent rented after five months, said a spokesman for the project, whose developers also include BFC Partners, L+M Development Partners, Taconic Investment Partners and Goldman Sachs.

Remaining one-bedrooms at the Essex start at about $4,500 a month. Other Essex Crossing rentals are nearby, and more are coming.

With wide aisles, smooth floors and uniform signs across 37,000 square feet, the market’s design, at first glance, evokes a modern supermarket like Whole Foods. The orderly design is also a striking break from its former location, a jumble of vendors who sometimes seemed to be on top of one another.