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Pondering the Essex Street Market’s “Utopian Alchemy”

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Today the New York Times files a “think piece” on the Essex Street Market, wondering whether any of its special spirit can be transferred to a shiny new facility that will be part of the “Essex Crossing” development project.

Essex Street Market via thelodownny.com

Reporter Gina Bellafante writes:

More than any other shopping venue in the city, the market stands as a place where disparate demographics consume things together — where old Hispanic women from the housing projects, owners of $2 million lofts and artists in rent-controlled Ridge Street apartments coexist in a Jane Jacobs vision.  Is this utopian alchemy now doomed? In its new building, years away from completion, the market will double in size to approximately 30,000 square feet. The city has promised existing vendors, from whom it has sought suggestions, that rents will not exceed what they would be paying in the current location; that they will remain in continuous operation until the new structure is ready; that moving expenses will be taken care of; and that infrastructure will be vastly improved… If the city can actually do what it claims it is so passionately committed to doing and build on the social dynamic that has evolved at the Essex Street Market for the whole project rather than displace it, then in this instance development will finally mean what its proponents always say it does: progress, and progress of the kind that uses private financing to serve a greater good.

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