Volume 19 • Issue 19 | September 22 - 28, 2006

Seaport firm, residents like food market to replace Fish Market

By Jefferson Siegel

Small greenmarkets and the occasional supermarket dot the Lower Manhattan landscape. But, as Downtown’s residential renaissance continues apace, there is a growing need for more than just the basic staples of nutrition. Last week a presentation at Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee meeting may portend an abundance of fresh comestibles for Downtown residents in the near future.

A new organization, the non-profit New Amsterdam Public Market Association, offered a preview of their intention to create a year-round, indoor, agrarian public market somewhere in the Seaport area.

Not exactly a greenmarket, the public market takes its lead from such endeavors as Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where purveyors, or middlemen, seeks out the best in locally grown and produced food.

In the first formal discussion of their project, the market’s proponents, Robert LaValva and Jill Slater, told board members of their vision for an indoor market that would operate all year. Reading from the mission statement, LaValva envisions a market “where authentic butchers, fish and cheese mongers, grocers and other purveyors sell food that is produced sustainably and humanely by our region’s Farmers and artisans.”

LaValva offered that as people become more knowlegeable about what they consume, the demand increases for food that is produced without depleting natural resources and is free of toxic chemicals. Artisinal food, food produced by non-industrial methods, has also become popular, he added.

“We think of the Seaport area as a perfect location for this new market,” Slater, who lives in the area, told the board. She cited the availability of mass transit.

Board interest increased when C.B. 1 district manager Paul Goldstein recalled a 2002 resolution poposing a similiar venture. At the time it was looked upon favorably, he said. “I think really what it boils down to is whether there’s a marriage, a match potential with General Growth,” the Seaport’s operator.

Janell Vaughan, the senior general manager of the Seaport mall for General Growth, sat listening and taking notes until Goldstein asked if General Growth was receptive to the proposal. “Absolutely,” Vaughan said without hesitation, “the spaces that we have on the table at the moment are the [Fulton] Fish Market stalls in the Fulton Market building.” After 184 years, when the Fish Market closed in June of 2005, its denizens moved to a modern facility at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. The market spaces have sat empty since then.

After concerns about parking, ease of access and the impact on current Seaport tenants were aired, the committee passed a resolution urging negotiations between the New Amsterdam Public Market Association and General Growth. Goldstein noted that calling for and passing a resolution indicated the board’s interest in the proposal and would hopefully lead to a successful negotiation between the two parties.


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