Volume 73, Number 4 | May 26 - June 1, 2004

Clockwise from above, left to right, Robert Tierney, Landmarks Preservation Commission chairperson; fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg; and Florent Morellet. Co-chairpersons of Save Gansevoort Market, Jo Hamilton and Morellet, shared a kiss. “Dancenoise” performance artist Lucy Sexton auctioned new street signs for the Gansevoort Historic District — though they couldn’t be kept by the winning bidders.

Flower power at Save Gansevoort benefit

Fashionistas and preservationists united last Thursday night at designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s W. 12th St. studio to raise money at an auction for a feasibility study on relocating the Flower Market to the Meat Market. Auction items included a night at the new Hotel Gansevoort, a cocktail party for 20 at Lotus nightclub, dinner for four at Spice Market, a trip for two to Amsterdam, dresses and gowns by Von Furstenberg, Alexander McQueen and Carlos Miele and street signs for the new Gansevoort Historic District.

According to Florent Morellet, owner of Florent restaurant on Gansevoort St. and co-chairperson of Save Gansevoort Market, there was a profit of over $100,00 after costs, which should be enough for the feasibility study. The auction alone netted $26,000. The Flower Market was the event’s largest sponsor, giving $30,000.

Down from an initial four that responded to a request for proposals, two groups are now vying to do the study. One group includes Washington Square Partners, the other, Hamilton, Rabinowitz and Alschuler. A selection should be made this week.

According to those closely involved in the issue, the key to moving the Flower Market to the Meat Market will be for the city to allow the use of several buildings it owns in the Meat Market, including the vacant Maggio Beef building on Washington St. (The city-owned, square-block co-op building, however, is still filled with meatpacking businesses.)

Addressing the audience before the auction, Jo Hamilton, co-chairperson of Save Gansevoort Market, said the idea arose as a way to keep “evil developers” out of the Meat Market. Speaking afterwards, she said the feasibility study will address issues such as: What are the space, trucking/parking and employment needs of the Flower Market? What kind of space could be available in the Meat Market? Will the existing meat businesses be O.K. with the idea? What is the cost?

“While people can think that it’s a good idea, we have to show that it can work,” Hamilton said.

“This is the most exciting proposition I’ve had in my 20 years in the business,” said Gary Page, president of the Flower Market Association, enjoying the party in Von Furstenberg’s studio, where the walls were covered with ’70s-style flower light patterns. Page said the way the Flower Market functions is that trucks come in and make drop-offs at 4 a.m.; buyers arrive from 4 a.m.-11 a.m.; by midday the market closes. “We’re not a dirty business,” he assured.

“I think a lot of people are excited about it. The thing is how to make it happen. That’s the purpose of the R.F.P. [for the feasibility study],” said Anthony Zunino, president of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Previous attempts to move the Flower Market to Long Island City and La Marqueta in East Harlem both failed.

Lincoln Anderson

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