Community Board 1 voted unanimously last night to allow the Brooklyn Flea to open an outdoor food court and beer garden at the South Street Seaport. The mini Smorgasburg will be a permanent fixture through October, and will take up the entire pedestrian-only block of Front Street between Beekman and Fulton streets. The 40-table, 497-seat food court will feature a rotating selection of five to eight of the Flea's food vendors, plus a "Smorgasbar" serving beer from atop two shipping containers.
Flea founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler were approached by the Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns Pier 17 and most of the Seaport properties surrounding it, to bring their food market to help reinvigorate the neighborhood, which was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Last month, the corporation and the City Council reached an agreement to establish two new food markets in the South Street Seaport. It sounds like this new Brooklyn Flea market will be a separate endeavor.
Also of note is that the Seaport Smorgasburg will open on the doorstep of New Amsterdam Market, the outdoor, public food market that has been working since 2006 to establish itself permanently in the old Fulton Fish Market Buildings.
As the two food markets will likely mean competition for each other, and New Amsterdam Market was notably disappointed by the plan outlined by the City Council, Eater reached out to New Amsterdam's founder Robert LaValva for comment. "While there's nothing wrong with a food court," he says, "we hope that no one confuses this with our vision. This has nothing to do with what we've been doing to revive this historic district and create a public space." LaValva also expressed distaste for the addition of things like shipping containers to the neighborhood. "This is a historic space that Howard Hughes Corporation continues to abuse in the most objectionable ways," he says. "People ought to think of those buildings in the same way as Central Park. They are older than Central Park and they are also public."