DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Albee Square Plaza off the Fulton Street Mall in Downtown Brooklyn is on its way to becoming a grub hub.
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership put a call out for a market operator whose job it will be to choose food, wine, beer and crafts vendors to fill 19 spaces in the plaza.
"We are looking to bring fresh food, prepared foods, and arts and crafts to the plaza," said Kevin Tolan, Director of BID Services and Programs at Brooklyn Partnership. "We want to activate Downtown Brooklyn's public spaces while also supporting local vendors."
City Point, who was given a $20-million tax-exempt federal stimulus in 2009, is surging forward with development of the area as the temporary DeKalb Market closes to make space for incoming retail giant Century 21 and other residential and retail projects.
Approximately 4,500 people visit Albee Square daily, according to the request for vendors, and that number is expected to increase significantly when City Point store and residences open their doors.
But some community members are wondering how the new market operator will choose which vendors will be allowed to set up shop in the outdoor mall.
According to Allison Lirish Dean who made a documentary about the gentrification of Downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Street Mall called My Brooklyn, there are multiple decision-making layers when it comes to the development of Fulton Street Mall, and those layers are not always transparent.
Dean spoke with local non-profit groups for her recent article, who argued that City Point should engage the existing community more and provide affordable space for businesses that were displaced due to City Point’s arrival, create affordable housing, hire locally, and ensure living wage.
“This sounds like a great opportunity to bring fresh food to Downtown Brooklyn,” she said. “But the community deserves to be more involved in the conversation.”
Tolan believes that Brooklyn Partnership's process has been transparent. "This is an open call for a market operator and vendors," he said. "The process is public and adheres to normal standards of calls for proposals."
Market operator applications are due on August 6 and a pre-bid information session will be held on July 25 at the Fulton Mall Improvement Association’s offices.