UrbanSpace’s markets — including Mad. Sq. Eats, Broadway Bites, and the holiday markets that pop up in Union Square and Columbus Circle come Christmas time — are now an engrained part of the New York City landscape, drawing shoppers and eaters, locals and tourists alike. And that’s quite the feat, considering that when the company, which was founded in London, launched its first market — a holiday market in Grand Central in the ’80s — it was told markets would never fly with New Yorkers.
Fly, they did, and now, more than 25 years later, UrbanSpace is plotting its first permanent year-round market plus a Garment District food market in conjunction with the Garment District Alliance.
“We’ve always worked with entrepreneurs in creative industries,” says Eldon Scott, the president of UrbanSpace. “The marketplaces are for entrepreneurs to sell and meet customers, but they’re also a place to exchange goods and services and create energy in that community. We’re interested in how you do that — and we’re interested in making fabulous places that are intersections in the city.”
The food markets, says Scott, first launched around the time of the recession, when UrbanSpace noted the food revolution that hit the city and decided to bring vendors together twice yearly in Madison Square. Since then, the company has expanded its all-food markets into Broadway Bites, which sets up along 33rd and Broadway for a several-week stretch, also twice a year. “There’s an art to it,” says Scott. “We’re trying to make sure that the entrepreneurs and chefs and people we’re working with are expressing their vision and business so the sum of the parts are greater than the whole. There’s been so much interest in this over food courts because in food courts, the lines are straight and corporate. They’re not straight in markets — you’re dealing with people and independent companies.”
For the new market in the Garment District, says Scott, UrbanSpace “really wanted to set out to work with the businesses in that neighborhood.” The vendor list includes new-to-UrbanSpace concepts like Go! Go! Curry, Toum, and Black Iron Burger, plus vendors from other markets, like Roberta’s and Wafels & Dinges.
The market will also help fulfill the aims of the Garment District Alliance, which looks for ways to promote the neighborhood and businesses that are there plus provide amenities to nearby office workers and tourists. “This is the middle of midtown,” says Scott. “And we’re very excited about being there.”
UrbanSpace Garment District hits 41st and Broadway on September 15 and runs through October 17, and it’ll be open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily.
And as that gets going, the company will continue plotting its first permanent market in the city at 230 Park Avenue, which is slated to open in 2015. “It’s an interesting, exciting time to be involved with so many exciting chefs and restaurant concepts,” says Scott. The permanent market will bring together 20 to 30 vendors under one roof.