The verdict is in. After much public debate, the New York City Council has ruled in favor of the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), handing the suburban mall developer the rights to Pier 17 until the year 2072. Development is set to begin in the Fall, after which current retail tenants will be evicted with no intention to re-invite them to the new development, “We will charge the highest rent possible,” said one HHC representative. Plans for HHC’s future mixed-use development have yet to be released to the public.
In addition, HHC holds an “option” on two neighboring buildings – the Old Fulton Fish Market and the Tin Building – thereby bumping elbows with non-profit organization, New Amsterdam Market, which long held a vision to preserve the historic buildings and revive the East River Market District to have it serve as a city food hub.
In previous posts, we discussed the Hudson Rail Yards project and the city’s new love for mixed-use development after the initial success from the High Line, which tourists love but didn’t de-categorize the neighborhood as an urban food dessert. We had also discussed Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her major push to release Food Works and Local Law 52, a comprehensive plan set to measure and address the city’s food at every stage.
However, New Yorkers received a confusing email on March 19th, a time when the future of New Amsterdam Market was still uncertain. Christine Quinn and the City Council wrote, “Dear New Yorker, Please join us tomorrow (Wednesday, March 20th) at 10 am on the front steps of City Hall to celebrate our announcement that we will be getting two additional markets in the Seaport area.” What this really meant was that the City Council had ruled in favor of HHC , under the condition that it would incorporate a vaguely defined “locally and regionally sourced food market” as part of the redevelopment. A deal that strays from Quinn’s fight for urban food procurement.
In recent years, the NYC government has taken a new approach to tackling food related issues – focusing more on reducing the availability of unhealthy foods, as we have witnessed with the size cap on sugary beverages. However, we cannot forget that there are still plenty of opportunities to increase healthy foods – and we shouldn’t stop at Green Carts.
Whether or not you are a supporter of New Amsterdam Market, ask yourself two questions moving into the mayoral election this November: Is New York City doing all that it can to maximize urban food procurement? And is Christine Quinn settling for less?
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