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Flea Market Planned For Hell's Kitchen Says P.S. 111 Reneged On Deal

By Mathew Katz | February 16, 2012 11:34am | Updated on February 16, 2012 11:41am
A 'for lease' sign still sits on top of a building next to P.S. 111 in Hell's Kitchen.
A 'for lease' sign still sits on top of a building next to P.S. 111 in Hell's Kitchen.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — A new flea market in Hell's Kitchen may be closed before it even had a chance to open.

The Manhattan Westside Flea had advertised it would open May 5 in the schoolyard of P.S. 111, at West 53rd Street and 10th Avenue, but the school's principal said that likely won't happen.

Principal Irma Medina said that representatives from the market had contacted her, but that a soccer program for local kids run by the Downtown United Soccer Club is tentatively scheduled to use the space on Saturdays starting in the spring.

"School events and programs take priority," she said. "Anything for children takes priority."

That was news to Kathleen McPherson, who had been planning to run Manhattan Westside Flea. McPherson, 26, said Medina assured her she was confirmed to use the schoolyard space several months ago. She's wasn't aware the market was a no-go until contacted by DNAinfo on Tuesday.

"As of two weeks ago, we had totally confirmed this with the school and everything was finalized," McPherson said. "I really don't know what happened to scare them off. The school is being no help in explaining."

McPherson said she initially met with school officials in October, and that Medina agreed to replace two previous tenants, Zog Sports and Bumblebee Tennis, with the market in exchange for a pledged $10,000 donation to the school.

According to McPherson, the school has a bylaw that prevented it from issuing a permit to the flea market until a month before the event is set to begin.

McPherson offered to pay rent for several months leading up to the May opening date to secure the location, but she said Medina told her it was unnecessary and that the deal was done.

However, no money changed hands and no deal was ever confirmed in writing. Medina could not be immediately reached to confirm McPherson's account.

Representatives from the Downtown United Soccer Club did not respond to multiple inquiries about their program at P.S. 111.

A representative from Bumblebee Tennis did confirm that it ran programs out of the school's playground in previous years, but had yet to reach out about obtaining a permit for 2012.

McPherson said she was blindsided by the school's decision, and that her company had already spent thousands of dollars on advertising and building a website. The market has also lined up numerous vendors to sell antiques and artisan crafts.

"If there was another school that would want to do this, I would jump on that," she said.

"I was so excited about this project, now we're completely in limbo and don't know what to do."