Volume 20, Number 44 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | MARCH 14 - 20, 2008
Seaport mall identifies site for large food market

By Julie Shapiro

Things are looking good for a market in the Seaport, after a meeting Tuesday about a different amenity: community centers.

The East Side Community Center Taskforce was discussing where they want Seaport developer General Growth Properties to put a community center, when Matt Viggiano, the newest member of City Councilmember Alan Gerson’s staff, asked about putting the center on the first floor of the former Fulton Fish Market building.

“We’re planning on opening a market in that space,” replied Janell Vaughan, senior general manager at General Growth Properties. “[It’s a] highly requested element.”

Many residents have suggested a food market in the redesigned Seaport mall, but this was the first the community heard about a specific location. Last December, Vaughan said General Growth was considering a large food market in the Seaport, but that it would not be in the New Market or Tin buildings.

On Wednesday, a General Growth spokesperson minimized Vaughan’s comment. “Ideas for the market are out there, but there are no firm plans,” the spokesperson said.

This was the taskforce’s second meeting. Last month, community members denounced General Growth’s proposal of a 30,000-square-foot community center as too small. General Growth is offering the community center space as part of a larger development package they will announce within the next few months.

Taskforce members still are not happy about the size, but they agreed to focus first on what they want and then how much space it will take up. Meanwhile, Debby Hirshman, General Growth’s recently hired community center consultant, is still working with the 30,000-square-foot space, which would be on the second floor of the former Fulton Fish Market, where the Bodies exhibit currently sits.

Led by Hirshman, the taskforce spent the meeting discussing other community centers — what they do, how much space they use and how much they cost to build and maintain — to get a better idea of what this community center could accomplish.

But C.B. 1 isn’t about to drop the issue of size. Ro Sheffe, chairperson of the Financial District Committee, did some quick math based on the figures Hirshman presented. He calculated that Tribeca will soon have 3 square feet of community center for every resident and Battery Park City will soon have 4 square feet per resident. In contrast, with a population of 44,000 people, the East Side should be looking for a community center of well over 100,000 square feet, he said.

Several board members disputed Sheffe’s figures, but not his ideas — everyone wants more space.

Peter Glazier, owner of Bridgewaters catering hall, which sits above the proposed community center and possible market site, said the 30,000-square-foot figure isn’t even quite correct, since it includes at most 23,000 square feet of usable space after subtracting the mechanical equipment and core.

Glazier didn’t object to the siting of the center, but did say he’s worried about its effect on his floor’s “quiet enjoyment.”

Julie@DowntownExpress.com


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