CB3 Wants City to Study More Essex Street Market Options

Yesterday, we wrote about the upcoming public hearing regarding the Seward Park redevelopment project.  On October 11th, residents will have the chance to speak out about the “draft scoping document,” the final version of which will guide a comprehensive environmental review on the SPURA site.

The document, released last month, spells out what the city sees as the “maximum” SPURA program. It is their most comprehensive discussion of the project to date. 

Architectural rendering prepared by Beyer Binder Belle.

Among the subjects covered — their vision for the Essex Street Market:

The proposed development includes relocating the existing Essex Street Market to a new, larger facility. The new public market would be approximately 25,200 square feet and would accommodate 35 to 65 vendors (depending on the size of each stall). The larger space would create entrepreneurship opportunities for new vendors and would allow for a variety of vendor price points. The new, modern market building would address many of the physical limitations of the existing facility, as it would be energy efficient, be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and have improved storage capabilities, garbage handling, and climate control, as well as expand common gathering areas for public seating and market events. In addition, the new facility would be expected to have an improved internal layout and better connections with the street. The City would give existing vendors the first opportunity to relocate their business to the new market facility, when the new facility (currently identified as being located on Site 2) is complete and ready for occupancy.

The “scoping document” adds that an alternative plan, leaving the market in its current location, will also be studied.  Earlier this year, Community Board 3 pressed city officials to also evaluate two other possibilities. A draft of the testimony to be presented by CB3 representatives on October 11th once again makes the case for studying those options. They include:

  1. “..(leaving) the Essex Street market in its current location, renovating it and possibly adding one or two commercial levels above it and several other allowable levels of housing.”
  2. “…a combination of renovating the existing market where it is and developing a new market on the southeast corner of Delancey and Essex streets.”

In a related development, Essex Street Market vendor Anne Saxelby, a strong proponent of keeping the 1940 market building, is taking her advocacy one step forward. She circulated a petition, signed by most (if not all) market vendors and forwarded it to Bob Steel, deputy mayor for Economic Development, The petition reads:

The vendors of the Essex Street Market would like to express our opposition to the EDC’s plan to tear down and relocate the market as part of the SPURA redevelopment plan. We believe that the market is a valuable asset to the city, for both historical and economic reasons. There are only a few remaining Laguardia-era public markets in New York. These markets should be viewed as important historic sites, vibrant and dynamic drivers of local economies, and tourist destinations. Furthermore, we believe that a move across Delancey Street would be detrimental to our businesses. A move would detract from the foot traffic of the market and force vendors to incur immense expense to relocate and rebuild their operations. We would like to request a meeting with you and your staff to further discuss our concerns. Please consider this request. We sincerely appreciate your time and consideration of this matter.

Incidentally, Saxelby is not a stranger to Deputy Mayor Steel. During the summer, he presented her with a “small business of the year award.”  A press release put out by the city afterward stated that the Essex Street Market had been revitalized “largely as a result of Saxelby’s influence.”