If you needed any indication that the structure of traditional food markets has been drafted into helping create the shopping mall of the future — call it the "Eataly effect" — look no further than downtown Manhattan. The Times takes a look at the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plans to remake the rundown, trinket-addled mall at Pier 17 in the Seaport district into a place where you’d actually shop. What that means is that those $7.99 foam Statue of Liberty crowns everyone loves so much will someday soon be replaced with $18 lobster rolls.
Howard Hughes Chief Executive David R. Weinreb tells the Times that a “world-class” food market will be part of the overhaul inside a 13,000-square-foot mall adjacent to the pier. Weinreb says in lieu of national chains, Pier 17 will attract "great chefs from all over the world" to run what will no doubt end up being a massive mix of restaurants, food stations, and vendor stalls.
The rise of the megamarket is nothing new. In October, we learned that Danny Meyer was planning an "Eataly on steroids" to complement the Hudson Yards project, but that’s uptown. In addition to a 365,000-square-foot shopping complex coming to the World Trade Center, there’s a 25,000-square-foot food and restaurant complex coming to the World Financial Center. Over the last twelve months, Grub Street has heard of more than a dozen potential chef-operators for these sites near the Battery.
The Times does not mention New Amsterdam Market (perhaps because it’s not part of a shopping mall or retail complex), which has been setting up seasonally on the site of the old Fulton Fish Market since 2007. Founder Robert LaValva tells Grub Street today that his organization, which added April Bloomfield to its board of directors earlier this year, is "working closely with the neighborhood’s small businesses as well as city and state officials to form a new community development corporation that will spur the area’s economic revival." The market will introduce a wholesale component in 2013, and for the first time, plans to open in February for the season.