Longtime Businesses Worry About Being Pushed Out Of Meatpacking District
By: NY1 News
NY1: Longtime Businesses Worry About Being Pushed Out Of Meatpacking District
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The Gansevoort Market or Meatpacking District on Manhattan's Lower West Side has become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. But, as NY1's Paul Lombardi found, longtime workers there think the new historic district's popularity could eventually cost them their jobs.
“How can you have a meat-packing area without any meat packers?" asks Robert Wilkins, the owner of Lamb Unlimited.
That's the question on many workers' minds in the Meatpacking District. Wilkins is already worried about encroaching development of trendy restaurants and hotels. But Wilkins says if apartments go up within the boundaries of the Gansevoort Market district, residents will quickly want the market out of the district where it's operated for more than 100 years.
“You cannot coexist with people making noise at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning with the sound of the trucks, with unfortunately people yelling back and forth about orders and the odors involved. It becomes a difficult situation," says Wilkins.
Not just difficult, says Andrew Berman of the Save Gansevoort Market Project, impossible.
“The two are incompatible,” says Berman. “It's oil and water."
Twenty-five years ago there were about 100 meat-packing businesses in the district. That number has dwindled in half: today there are only about 50.
Berman says those that remain are in danger. His immediate concern is an abandoned warehouse known as the Nebraska Building, which a developer wants to convert into a hotel and residences.
The developer originally wanted an all-residence building, but the Department of Buildings said no, since new residential construction is not allowed in the district. But since hotels are, the developer came back with the mixed-use plan and the DOB said yes, in theory.
“The developer is trying to use a Trojan horse method to bring residential development in the neighborhood, which is not supposed to be allowed in a manufacturing district like this, saying it's a hotel," says Berman.
But Berman hopes community pressure can still derail the project.
The developer, Stephen Touhey of Landmark Development Corporation, did not return NY1’s calls for comment, but the DOB says it's taking another look at the project and there is no permit to build at this time.
- Paul Lombardi