Quinn Focuses on Food – and the New Amsterdam Market

Christine Quinn, Margaret Chin, Robert LaValva

On Monday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn released a comprehensive report and plan for creating a sustainable and affordable food system in New York City.  Gotham Gazette and Civil Eats both have good articles looking at her proposals. In the lead-up to the speech , Quinn came to the New Amsterdam Market recently, lending her support to the campaign for a 7-day-a-week public market at the Seaport.

Appearing with City Councilmember Margaret Chin and New Amsterdam Market founder Robert LaValva, the speaker praised a new food stamp program at the market (which the Council is helping to fund). In her remarks, Quinn also expressed more emphatic support for establishing a fresh food hall inside the historic Fulton Fish Market buildings.

Pointing to the 1939 “New Market Building” behind her, Quinn said a permanent market should be created in “that building.” A 2008 proposal by General Growth Properties, the company that runs the Seaport mall, called for demolishing the structure and relocating the Tin Building to the end of Pier 17.  Several months ago, in another appearance at the Seaport, I asked Quinn whether she was committed to using the old buildings. She replied, “it could be here or someplace else.”

The plans for the Seaport were put on hold after General Growth Properties declared bankruptcy. This month the firm exited Chapter 11 and split in two. The Seaport is now managed by a newly formed company called Howard Hughes Corp. In the past, General Growth and the NYC Economic Development Corp. (which oversees the Seaport) have expressed general support for a public market. The previous (grand) plan to rebuild the mall ran into serious opposition from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It remains to be seen when and how the proposal will be re-tooled.