Fighting for a Market

Robert LaValva used to work for the City of New York, but lately, he’s found himself on the opposite side of the city. In 2005, after the Fulton Fish Market—which had been located in Lower Manhattan since the 1800s—was moved to the Bronx, LaValva approached the city about holding a market in the empty building. He was rebuffed. The Economic Development Corporation, which managed the site, had promised it to a developer.

Luckily for LaValva, the financial crisis slowed development plans, and the market was able to “squat” for some time in the parking lot in front of the development site. Unlike greenmarkets, New Amsterdam is a market for producers: bakers, picklers, coffee roasters and cooks who are committed to using locally sourced ingredients. Despite the high rents New Amsterdam pays to the city, and the market’s precarious location underneath a highway, the market has flourished over seven years, collecting a following of residents who want the historic market, and public access to the waterfront, preserved.

With a new administration coming in, LaValva and his band of volunteers are hoping to create enough noise for the market to stay. “Anytime city property has a change in use, there is a public process for that change to take place,” he says.

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