Even the Bronx Merchants Have Their Price

If Irwin Cohen wants to save the Bronx Terminal Market, he better move fast before there is nothing left to save. A splinter group of merchants has offered to leave the present site in the South Bronx if they are paid enough money, according to testimony Monday morning at a City Council subcommittee hearing. Jesse Masyr, an attorney representing The Related Companies, the developer that wants to turn the area into a shopping mall, said that the group had asked for $30 for each square foot the vendors occupied, plus permission to stay until June 1.

“We are going to try our best to achieve that request and are going to get as close to it as possible,” Masyr said at the hearing.

A previous offer was for $10 a square foot. A meeting between Related and the group, which claims to represent a majority of the 16 or 17 remaining merchants at the site, is scheduled for Tuesday.

The main vendors association, the Bronx Terminal Market Preservation Association, had embraced a plan by Cohen, who developed Chelsea Market in the 1990s, to build a new market across the Major Deegan Expressway from the present site. Under the splinter plan, presumably, the vendors would find spaces in various locations throughout the Bronx. Andrew Alper, the president of the city Economic Development Corporation, said he could assess Cohen’s plan because he hadn’t seen “any numbers.” Alper said the “highest and best use” for the property would be a park.

Also at the hearing, Alper recounted the tortured history of the shopping mall, saying that it started when “Deputy Mayor Doctoroff, who we all know is friends with Steve Ross of Related,” asked the developer whether it could be turned into a shopping mall. This is, as far as we know, the first time a city official has acknowledged that Doctoroff and Ross are “friends” as opposed to “business partners.”

-Matthew Schuerman