11 February 2008

This One Really Is the City's Fault!

It's easy to blame City Hall for a lot of the cultural losses New York has suffered recently, but the blame can only be applied indirectly, by pointing to some wrongheaded policy or an imagined, backroom assent.

Well, this upcoming travesty actually is the City's fault, clear and simple! The New York Times reports that Moore Street Retail Market, a Williamsburg public market that contains 13 Caribbean vendors, is being forced out of existence. The City of New York owns the land and building and wants the sellers out by June, so it can construct some housing. (Bet that building will be a cool mix of "affordable housing" and, well, not-so-affordable housing.) The market is one of only four left in the City built during the Depression (Arthur Avenue and Essex Street are others); tellingly, it's the only one that is worked by and caters to minorities.

There's a lot of depressing, but unsurprising, details in this story. One: Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Economic Development Corporation, refused to be interviewed. (Add her to the City's Enemies list.) Two: the City said it was forced into a decision by the market's low rents and high overhead, which have resulted in a deficit of more than $1 million over the last four years. But how about raising the rents instead of tearing the place down? Or renting the four stalls that remain vacant? And when is the City so concerned about cost overruns, especially one so puny as $250,000 a year? Three: Gerald Esposito, the district manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 1, said there was never any consultation between the City and the vendors about how to work out problems, just offers of buyouts and various harassments. That's because the City doesn't want the market fixed. It wants it gone!! That's why it won't talk with the innumerable local officials who have offered to make the market work.

Joan Bartolomeo, president of the Brooklyn group, said "Everybody assumes that if you say housing, everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon. But you can’t have houses without retail. This is a way to put into practice what we preach: preserve local business, provide local goods and keep the resources in the community."


Greg said...

Actually, it is all going to be low-income subsidized housing.

Anonymous said...

The city's cultural losses are also a result of Bloomberg as mayor. He isn't as cultured as people think and doesn't know enough about the city because he belongs to the so-called elite and is locked into their mentality. Why can't the new housing complex integrate the old Moore street retail market? The city could have easily done this.