Long ago, Pier 40 berthed cruise ships.
The April issue of the monthly newspaper WestView reports that a new farmers’ market may be in the works for Pier 40, the hulking complex that sits at the western end of Houston Street.
Pier 40 occupies two full blocks of riverfront, and extends hundreds of feet into the Hudson River.
The pier–which currently houses several artificial-turf soccer fields and parking spaces for hundreds of cars on several levels–has been the subject of a decade-long struggle about what the pier should be used for and who should pay for its upkeep. The property is currently in bad shape, with numerous parts of the structure sagging, and severe seepage of rainwater. The pier is nominally under the control of the Hudson River Park Trust, the organization that has developed the Hudson River waterfront from the northern edge of Battery Park City to as far north as 42nd Street.
Apparently, there is a consensus among all the organizations involved that a farmers’ market would be a good usage for the pier, although one that would not generate the kind of money needed for the preservation of the structure, which is estimated to be in excess of $100 million. There is hope that a market might attract rent-paying restaurants, for whom easy parking could be a plus.
A delegation from the Greenmarket has already toured the facility, but it’s still an open question which organization would run such a market. There are numerous farmers’ markets at nearly the same latitude as the pier already, some privately run, some run by non-profits, including Union Square Greenmarket, the most well-known and the largest, as well as satellite markets at Abingdon Square, Tompkins Square, and St. Marks Church on various days of the week, plus privately run markets at Charlton and Sixth Avenue, and pop-up private markets that occur sporadically along Sixth Avenue and elsewhere.
The potential location of the new market within the structure is still in doubt, but probably not on the soccer fields that occupy the sunny center of the building.
Can too many farmers’ markets in be a bad thing? The same article mentions that revenue at the Union Square market has been declining the last few years and blames Trader Joe’s (Whole Foods probably has a part in that, too). But the problem may be more complex than that, with individual shoppers opting for CSA’s, and restaurants patronizing organizations like Farm to Market or going directly to individual farmers for their fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats.
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