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The Last Meatpackers of the Meatpacking District May Only Be Around as Long as Their Lease

At least that lease goes through 2032.

There aren't many meatpacking businesses left in the neighborhood named after them. Just seven, according to Crain's, all working out of big building in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. The building is underneath the High Line, right at the foot of the new Whitney Museum, and though they still have some years to go, it sounds like its tenants only have a finite number of years left to keep doing what the neighborhood used to do best.

In a profile of one of the holdouts, John Jobaggy of J. T. Jobaggy, Inc., who sells beef to greats like Peter Luger, Crain's reveals that the meatpackers' lease was supposed to be up in 2014, but they managed to renegotiate with the incoming Whitney a couple years before that. In return for them giving up a chunk of space to the museum, the city agreed to extend the lease to 2032, with a ludicrously low rent of $18.75 a square foot (the average for retail space in the area is $372). But what happens 17 years from now? Jobaggy, who's grandfather opened a meatpacking business in the neighborhood in 1925, tells Crain's, "When the lease is up, that's it for me in the meat business," and the other packers could follow suit. The business is hard these days, thanks to soaring beef prices and soaring rents. The latter (as you may have heard) puts the squeeze on New York City restaurants, which then can't afford or aren't willing to pay the higher beef prices.

There is, for what it's worth, a booming meatpacking business at Hunts Point marketplace, the huge complex of wholesale food distributors of all kinds in the Bronx. But it looks like the original Manhattan Meatpacking District is winding down.

To get a glimpse inside the Jobaggy warehouse, and see how Peter Luger selects its steaks, watch below:

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