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Vendors Dismayed to Learn NoHo Market Will Be Lost to Condo Construction

By Andrea Swalec | October 15, 2012 8:21am

NOHO — A host of vendors who hawk T-shirts and jewelry from a warren of small stands inside a vacant Broadway lot were shocked to learn that a new building planned for the site would displace the decades-old marketplace when construction proceeds.

Plans for the 12-story condo building at 688 Broadway just north of Great Jones Street were recently approved by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, but some current vendors said they had idea their 20-year-old market would be getting the boot.

Vendor Mohammad Flah, who has sold hats and clothing from a 25-foot-by-10-foot stall at the NoHo Market for the past eight years, was alarmed to hear the news.

"I don't know what we're going to do," said Flah, 49. "We have a mortgage and five kids. Everything is hard now."

Market manager Rachel Pinker said she expected the vendors to be able to stay for "about another year," claiming that "everyone knows" about the closure.

A spokeswoman for building designer BKSK Architects LLP said exactly when the vendors will need to leave will be determined by the length of the city's permitting process.

Building owner Downtown Re Holdings LLC, which bought the lot in January 2008 for $8 million, did not return a request for comment.

A vendor who has been at the market for four years and gave his name as Nawang said he had heard rumors about the market's closure but had not been given official word of any plans to move. He said he wasn't sure where he would sell his wares once the NoHo Market closed.

"We ourselves have no idea where to go," he said. "It's sad."

The planned condo building will have ground-floor retail space and 14 residential units. Its distinguishing feature will be large terra-cotta "fins," or panels, arranged irregularly on the front of the building and angled in different directions to catch the light, according to BKSK.

Pinker said it had been merely a "fluke" that the vendors, who pay to rent stalls on a month-to-month basis, had been able to work in the prime retail zone, which has intermittently acted as a vendor market and parking lot over the past 20 years.

"We're lucky that we get to be on this multimillion-dollar spot," she said. "It is what it is."

Pinker, a former vendor herself, said she is currently searching for another location in Manhattan, preferably indoors and out of the elements.