Community Board Panel Backs Plan For New Management at Essex Street Market (Updated 3 p.m.)

Essex Street Market.

Essex Street Market.
Essex Street Market.

The Vendor Association at the Essex Street Market is calling on the city to create a locally-based non-profit organization to take over management of the historic facility. Last night, Community Board 3’s land use committee endorsed the proposal, which it wants to see implemented no later than the middle of next year.

Two weeks ago, Vendor Association head Anne Saxelby told The Lo-Down she had become exasperated with the management of the market by the NYC Economic Development Corp. (EDC) Many vendors have seen a significant drop in business during the past couple of years. Several businesses have closed up shop. Saxelby believes the EDC’s lumbering bureaucracy has been too slow to address the situation.

Last night, Saxelby was more optimistic about the prospects for fixing some of the problems. Agreements allowing the association to hire a Vendor Services Coordinator and to outsource marketing to the LES Business Improvement District are being finalized. Also, the merchants and local elected officials have had some positive conversations with the new leadership team at the EDC.

A resolution submitted by the vendors and approved by the committee stated that:

  • Community Board 3 supports the creation of an Essex Street Market Preservation and Development Corp.
  • The new locally-based not-for-profit entity would “provide day-to-day management of market operations” and “oversee marketing, promotions, events and programming through a contract with the LES BID.”
  • The city should implement the structure for the new organization “in the near term,” no later than June 30 of next year. The development corporation would run the new Essex Market opening as part of the Essex Crossing project in 2018. It will also ensure a “seamless and integrated transition” in “an orderly and phased manner.”
  • A “detailed and finalized road map of both structure and timing for implementing of this new management structure” should be presented to the existing task force that advises the Essex Crossing developers in January of next year.

In our September 29 story, a spokesperson for the EDC said no decisions had been made about the management structure for the new market. A consultant was hired to help determine the best option. We have contacted the Economic Development Corp. to ask what officials there think of the vendors’ proposal.

UPDATE 3 p.m. The Vendor Association’s idea has the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Her office has been participating in recent conversations about the road ahead for the market. Here’s the statement she provided:

The Essex Street Market is vital to this neighborhood, and it’s clear that its management requires the kind of individualized, hands-on attention that an external nonprofit will be better-equipped to provide than EDC… The staff at EDC has worked tremendously hard to make the market successful, and I think the best way to build on that work and make the market successful is to transition its management to a partner organization that can address its unique needs.