Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A New Bronx Terminal Market?

In today’s Observer, Matthew Schuerman talks about Chelsea Market developer Irwin Cohen’s vision for a new Bronx Terminal Market just west of the proposed Gateway Mall. Cohen believes that, unlike his Chelsea project, this new, Bronx-based international will be easier to developer because a number of pieces are already in place:

“I think the Bronx Terminal Market merchants are already exactly what I asked of the Chelsea Market when I walked into this,” he told The Observer in a Jan. 16 interview. “I wanted every tenant to be family-owned, and that is the way it is at Bronx Terminal Market. Looking at the second generation is key to the survival of the Chelsea Market—and at Bronx Terminal Market, the second generation is already there.”
While Mr. Cohen’s participation and vision is important for the success of this plan, nothing will get done unless the city and Related are on board. A quote from Related’s Jesse Masyr is encouraging: “
If you are asking whether I think the two uses are incompatible across the street like that, the answer is no, not at all,” Mr. Masyr told The Observer. “We have an open mind. Irwin’s a creative guy.”
However, keeping an opening mind is quite different from actively supporting the concept. As for the city, a spokesperson is characteristically nebulous about the merchants’ relocation: “We are considering a number of options, and we are not commenting on any of them at this point,” spokeswoman Janel Patterson said. We wonder what the city is waiting for considering that the merchants may be exterminated from the market in as little as a couple of weeks.

As we have mentioned before, our strategy is to pressure the City Council to disapprove the current application for the Velodrome site with the intention of reserving it for the merchants. Considering that the merchants may be evicted within weeks nothing less will work. We are mindful that Councilwomen like Helen Foster, who has been a champion for the merchants, is a bit reluctant at this point to give up parkland (which is currently planned for the Velodrome site) but after educating her about Cohen’s plan we believe that she and other councilmembers will be supportive of this relocation proposal.