Volume 78 - Number 49 / May 13 - 19 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

A special villager supplement

Villager photo by Isaac Rosenthal

Interacting with friendly local farmers is part of the ambience of the Union Square Greenmarket.

Migrating Greenmarket has moved back to the north end

By William Sprouse

William Kelley, director of economic development for the Union Square Partnership, confirmed that construction on the north end of the park and its adjacent plaza is nearly complete and that the Greenmarket farmers are back in the locations they will occupy until construction is completed.

Three farmers interviewed said they estimated that business is down — 20 percent, 30 percent or 40 percent, depending on the farmer — over the last year due both to the recession and the disruption caused by the park’s renovation.

Stewart Borowsky, who sells wheatgrass on the park’s west side, said he was happy with the work the Union Square Partnership and the construction crews did to minimize the disruptions to the Greenmarket. 

“I think it’s fair to say they worked very hard on making them minimal,” Borowsky said. “But it’s very hard to do all this construction and for it to have no impact. So that’s why ‘minimal’ is a really good word, because it’s a nice subjective word, and it indicates more effort than actual effect. But there were days when the inevitable jackhammering makes it really hard to sell, and I’m not upset about that, but I’m glad we’re through it. We’re mostly through it.”

Borowsky said he used an e-mail list to inform regular customers of where he was relocated, but his sales were down 20 percent, by his estimate.

Kelley said the Partnership pushed the Parks Department to complete the construction quickly and upped its marketing of the Greenmarket to help mitigate the construction’s negative effects.

Sarasun Cangelosi, who sells flowers and herbs from a stand on the park’s east side, said her estimated sales are down 30 percent for the year because of the combination of the recession and the construction.

“I mean, us personally, I think we’ve been taken care of as well as we possibly could,” Cangelosi said. “We were shuffled completely to the opposite end, which I think made us lose a few customers, only because they didn’t know where we were. And by the time they realized where we were, we were moved somewhere else. I think that quite a few stands had that problem.”

Another farmer said his sales were off 40 percent because a cramped aisle caused by the construction and a poor redesign of the park chased off customers. He declined to give his name.

Borowsky, the wheatgrass farmer, said the resurfaced north-end plaza, with fewer cracks and bumps, seemed safer.

“It was really painful to stand here for years and see people trip,” he said, “especially the people that can’t fall, because it’s always the old people that go over. So that’s awesome.”

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