Editor’s note: A short time ago, we posted an Op/Ed from New Amsterdam Market founder Robert LaValva concerning the future of the old Fulton Fish Market buildings at the Seaport. The piece addressed two TLD articles in which Kelly Magee, City Council member Margaret Chin’s director of communications, explained Chin’s point of view on a redevelopment plan announced this week. Here’s Magee’s written response (in this case she is speaking for herself, not Council member Chin):
We have always held that the Tin Building and New Market Building were outside of the scope of this ULURP application. This has been the subject of numerous discussions between our office and Mr. LaValva, and we will have to agree to disagree on this point. The deal struck by Speaker Quinn and Council Member Chin to secure space for two regional food markets at the Seaport was nothing short of a massive victory. These two buildings will be subject to their own, separate, ULURP process – which will require City Council approval – when, and if, a development plan is put forth by Howard Hughes.”
Editor’s note: The following opinion piece was submitted by Robert LaValva, president and founder of the New Amsterdam Market:
The Lo-Down’s two recent articles regarding the New Amsterdam Market and the Fulton Fish Market contain a number of incorrect statements by Council Member Margaret Chin’s spokesperson Kelly Magee.
In the March 13 article (“Future of New Amsterdam Market is Cloudy“), Ms. Magee stated that the current land use process for the Seaport Mall is not the appropriate place to press the issue, referring to our proposal to preserve the Fulton Fish Market Tin Building and New Market Building as public markets. In fact, as I stated at the Council’s hearing on March 14, and subsequently at meetings with staff members for Council Member Chin and Speaker Quinn, the Pier 17 ULURP process was the moment to advocate the preservation and future use of these historic public spaces for several reasons.
Here’s a bit more on yesterday’s deal paving the way for the redevelopment of the South Street Seaport and the establishment of two new food markets there. On more than one occasion in the past few years, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council member Margaret Chin stood alongside Robert LaValva, who has been the driving force behind reactivating the old Fulton Fish Market buildings, embracing his vision. But yesterday, LaValva was nowhere in sight.
The founder of the New Amsterdam Market told us he was deeply disappointed in the final agreement, now approved by the Council, allowing the Howard Hughes Corporation to move forward with the big project. A side deal brokered by Quinn establishes a new market in the Link Building, adjacent to the Seaport mall, and a second facility in about half of the historic 20,000 square foot Tin Building. The New Market Building was not part of yesterday’s agreement.
A short time ago, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a deal has been reached with the Howard Hughes Corp. creating a new food market inside the historic Tin Building. The concession is part of a larger agreement paving the way for a Council vote today green lighting the redevelopment of Pier 17. At a contentious hearing last week, local residents and supporters of the New Amsterdam Market argued in favor of addressing the future of the former Fulton Fish market buildings now rather than at some point in the future. The Tin Building is adjacent to the mall and was not included in the redevelopment plan.
If you’re a fan of the New Amsterdam Market, here’s something you’ll want to be following in the next few days and weeks. Events now unfolding in city government may very well help determine whether the popular event stays or goes at the Seaport — and whether the dream of a vastly expanded food market in the former Fulton Fish Market buildings can be realized.
As you may know, the Howard Hughes Corp. is redeveloping the widely maligned South Street Seaport Mall. Tomorrow morning, a City Council committee will weigh whether to approve the land use application, including neighborhood zoning changes, that would clear the way for the project to begin. The proposal does not include the fish market buildings, two structures that have languished since 2005, but due to a related agreement with the city, Hughes has the right to come back with a plan for those properties (the company has a June deadline to make a pitch).
Hurricane Sandy battered the historic Seaport area, flooding many shops and restaurants, and displacing a lot of residents. On Sunday, the neighborhood will receive a much-needed boost when the Peck Slip Pickle Festival goes on as planned at the New Amsterdam Market.
Last night, we talked with Robert LaValva, the founder of the market, about the tough times being experienced by local businesses, and about this weekend’s event. On November 4, the New Amsterdam Market sponsored a volunteer day; 250 people came out to assist the Seaport neighborhood with recovery efforts.
LaValva said he sees the Pickle Festival as a great opportunity to support the community. “We felt it was even more important to go ahead with the Pickle Festival now” than before the storm hit, he said. LaValva added that some of the vendors taking part on Sunday were scheduled to be involved in the Lower East Side’s pickle festival, which was cancelled due to the hurricane. The Peck Slip event, which is still evolving, is envisioned as an international showcase, celebrating not only Eastern European pickling traditions but those of other cultures as well. On Sunday, for example, Chinese and Persian pickle purveyors will be represented.
Coming up on Sunday, it’s the 2012 debut of the New Amsterdam Market. This year, the lineup includes fish, which is (of course) especially fitting since the popular weekly food fest is staged right in front of the old Fulton Fish Market buildings. Among the featured vendors: Acme Smoked Fish Company from Brooklyn.
There will also be a bread pavilion, including 15 bakers (Grandaisy Bakery and Roberta’s will both be represnted among lots of regulars such at Sullivan Street Bakery). From 1-4 p.m. Jim Lahey (of Sullivan Street) will hold a wood-oven pizza-making demo.
The market takes place from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., on South Street, between Beekman Street and Peck Slip.
The New Amsterdam Market hosts its fourth annual Wintermarket this weekend, the last event of 2011, and it promises to be festive, fun and full of fish.
Organizers tell us this Sunday’s event will be the largest Wintermarket yet, with more than 70 vendors. They include a special emphasis on seafood, with 11 vendors from throughout the Northeast selling marine products from fresh-shucked oysters and wild-gathered seaweed obtained through more responsible fishing practices that protect the environment. James Beard Award winner Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish, helped select the vendors and will be on hand to sell and sign copies of his book. Chef David Pasternak of ESCA Restaurant will be cooking up local striped-bass chowder.
A few food headlines from around the neighborhood today:
On Sunday, City Council Speaker Chris Quinn and Councilmember Margaret Chin rang the bell to open the 2011 season of the New Amsterdam Market at the South Street Seaport. In the last couple of years, they both have become big advocates of creating a 12-month, 7-day-a-week market on the former site of the Fulton Fish Market.
A strange thing happened yesterday at the New Amsterdam Market. The artisan food fair that’s slowly but steadily gained momentum as a premier destination shopping spot for sustainable, seasonal, local goods near the seaport in three years of Sundays saw some unusual customers: Wall Streeters showed up in suits to peruse the wares.
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