Preservation talk in the air as Seaport market bustles

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer Maggie Nesciur, the owner of Flying Fox, brought her hand-picked fruit to New Amsterdam Market on Sept. 29.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Maggie Nesciur, the owner of Flying Fox, brought her hand-picked fruit to New Amsterdam Market on Sept. 29.

By TERESE LOEB KREUZER  |  The New Amsterdam Market proved that though it had been gone for months, it had not been forgotten. On a sunny Sunday at the end of last month, about 6,000 people made their way to the parking lot under the F.D.R. Drive between Beekman St. and Peck Slip, where they stocked up on food from regional farmers.

Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market, had organized weekly markets on South Street since 2010, but this year, he had a three-month hiatus.

There were also lots of familiar faces among the vendors, who responded with broad smiles to customers’ oft-repeated remark, “I’m so glad to see you!”

LaValva’s decision to cancel the summer markets stemmed from what happened in March when the City Council approved the Howard Hughes Corporation’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application to replace the existing mall on Pier 17.

Following the vote, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Councilmember Margaret Chin announced at a press conference that as part of the deal, before Oct. 1, 2014, Hughes would open a 10,000-square-foot food market in the Link Building on Pier 17. The deal specified that there would be another food market in the Tin Building occupying at least 10,000 square feet of floor space showcasing locally and regionally sourced foods.

LaValva pointed out at the time that the New Amsterdam Market occupied 15,000 square feet of space in its transient location in the parking lot, and that renowned farmers’ markets in other cities, where they attracted tourists as well as locals, were many times larger than that.

 While foodies shopped, others collected signatures to save the New Market Building in the background. The building is outside the Seaport Historic District and could be demolished for new development.


While foodies shopped, others collected signatures to save the New Market Building in the background. The building is outside the Seaport Historic District and could be demolished for new development.

He decided to spend the summer concentrating on his fight for what he and other preservationists call the “East River Market District.”

At the September New Amsterdam Market, the Historic Districts Council collected signatures for a petition urging the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider the New Market Building for landmarking. That afternoon, 740 people signed the petition.

The building, which opened in 1939, was the last public building to be constructed specifically for the Fulton Fish Market. Without city landmark status, it could be torn down.

Simeon Bankoff, president of the Historic Districts Council, said he hoped the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has rebuffed previous efforts, would change its mind after the next mayor takes over in January.

While the New Amsterdam Market bustled with shoppers and polemicists on Sept. 29, a competing market on South Street — the Fulton Stall Market — was empty and silent.

Backed by The Howard Hughes Corporation, it opened for the 2013 season on both Saturdays and Sundays. Then, because there wasn’t enough business, it was open just on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Finally, in September, it closed completely.

At the Community Board 1 Seaport Committee meeting on Sept. 17, Phillip St. Pierre, the general manager of the Seaport for The Howard Hughes Corporation, mentioned that the stalls, which housed fishmongers from 1950 to 2005, when the Fulton Fish Market moved to the Bronx, will be demolished when The Howard Hughes plan for the Seaport uplands goes into effect.

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2 Responses to Preservation talk in the air as Seaport market bustles

  1. Wonder what will be replacing the fishmongers stalls. The Fulton Market Building, with Bridgewaters on the top, and Bodies exhibit on ground and second floor, will have a new use? Or will it too be demolished?
    Bridgewaters has sued the Howard Hughes corporation, because Hughes has not made repairs to the building since Hurricane Sandy. This is the opposite of economic development, it is warehousing space; keeping the building empty when the ugly containers are put in place outside.

    We need to landmark the Fulton Fish Market 1939 "New Market Building" to protect it, and the Historic District has to be expanded to fit the Federal district boundaries. The New Amsterdam Market should go in this building, it is a great economic development idea, with thousands of shoppers and a vibrant loyal group of farmers and chefs. The neighborhood loves it, and needs it.
    And we need to prevent the Howard Hughes Corp. from taking over any South St. Seaport Museum space; this would be arrogant, and unconscionable.

  2. I really appreciate this journal and that i can positive promote this journal to others in my circle.

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