A beloved but run-down Williamsburg market will be getting some much-needed repairs thanks to a hefty investment from local politicians.
Councilmember Antonio Reynoso and Borough President Eric Adams have together donated $2.7 million to the New York City Economic Development Corporation for the renovation of Moore Street Market, which locals describe as a community center and meeting place as much as a shopping destination.
“It wasn’t just a market, it was a communal space where family and friends and neighbors came and enjoyed an afternoon of music on Moore Street, [and] food and stories,” said Dr. Frances Lucerna, co-founder and executive director of El Puente de Williamsburg, a local organization that has partnered with EDC to oversee the market and which hosts cooking classes and workshops in the space.
Lucerna recalled coming to the market every weekend with her family as a child growing up in the neighborhood.
“It was a place where we all brought and celebrated not only our lives but our souls,” she said.
The 15,000-square-foot space was founded in 1941, making it one of the borough’s oldest indoor markets. Local vendors have been selling their food and wares there ever since, but the market has undergone some hard times due to a shortage of resources. Vendors in 2016 decried an abundance of empty stalls and sparse foot traffic, which community members chalked up to city neglect and lack of advertising, DNAInfo reported at the time. Community Board 1, which includes Williamsburg, sent a letter to EDC urging the city agency, which has managed the market since late 2014, to promote the market stalls and support local businesses.
The agency will be expanding marketing and programming efforts as part of its partnership with El Puente, said an EDC spokesperson, who added that the renovations from the new funds will increase the market’s visibility.
The new influx of funds — $2 million from Councilmember Reynoso’s office and $700,000 from the office of the Borough President — will go toward renovating the physical space. That includes repairing the roof, installing street-facing windows — the space currently has none — and updating the building’s heating and cooling systems. The agency will bring in a designer this fall to plan out the renovations.
The new funds will go toward those capital repairs, but the EDC president emphasized that the agency also wants to help new vendors get their start in the market.
“A lot of them are very small entrepreneurs so they may not have the funding to build out the shelving, or if they need an oven, so we will help with that investment for the vendors to get them running in the first place,” NYCEDC president and CEO James Patchett told amNewYork.
The market currently has 15 vendors, according to EDC, and eight vacant stalls are available. One incoming vendor attending the renovation announcement Tuesday morning told amNewYork she’s thrilled to hear about the coming upgrades.
“I grew up here, so this became my market,” said Eneida Martino, who plans to open a stall in the fall with her sister serving Italian food like squid ink pasta, fresh ravioli and gelato. “It’s a place you can come home and get food — if mom is not around it’s the second best thing to a home cooked meal. And also it’s a great community center that you can come and just meet with people, which is amazing.”