It seems that a proposal to make the New Amsterdam Market a permanent fixture in the South Street Seaport’s former Fulton Fish Market building has every food critic and preservationist in New York City revved up, and touting the plan as the next big game-changing development for Lower Manhattan. New York Times opinion and food columnist Mark Bittman went so far as to say that this expansive food market has “wonderful potential that dwarfs even that of the High Line.”
Robert LaValva, a former city planner, first launched the market in 2005 after the fish market relocated to the Bronx. He looked around and realized that, unlike a number of cities, New York City didn’t have a large-scale food hall or market. And so he modeled his vision to create a permanent food market in the Tin and New Market buildings after places such as Pikes Market in Seattle, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, or Les Halles in Paris.
Today the City Council is holding a public hearing to determine the future of the South Street Seaport. The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), the developer that rents Pier 17 next to the Fulton Fish Market, has enlisted SHoP Architects to redesign the struggling 250,000-square-foot mall. The plan calls for new boutiques, restaurants, rooftop shops, a concert venue and museum. But the question remains whether these changes will extend to the Tin and New Market buildings that once housed the old Fulton Fish Market, and is now the temporary weekend home of New Amsterdam Market.
Supporters of the food market are concerned that the overhaul of Pier 17 could pave the way for development on the former site of the fish market and have launched an online petition to bolster their cause. HHC, however, hasn’t indicated any plans to raze or rebuild at the site.