UPPER WEST SIDE — A struggling newsstand outside a busy West 72nd Street subway station will likely be replaced by a food truck or snack stand in the near future, a Parks Department official said.
The department-rented newsstand next to the 72nd Street 2/3 train stop competes too much with an MTA-owned newsstand location just yards away at the entrance to the station, said Alex Han, senior project manager for the department's revenue division.
"We understand there's an oversaturation of newsstands and it’s not good for business for the concession," Han explained.
As a result, the newsstand rented by the Parks Department — a freestanding structure on the east side of Verdi Square, closer to West 72nd Street — is struggling, he said.
"We were exploring re-purposing that structure for food service," Han said.
Because the Parks Department newsstand sits on top of the subway station, adding running water would be difficult, though it is something the agency is exploring, he noted.
If that proves too difficult, the department could rent the concession to a food truck or a vendor offering pre-made eats, he added.
At one point, the gelateria Screme had a location in Verdi Square, but it no longer operates there, Han explained.
The Parks Department newsstand's current operator conceded that business has been rough lately, but said that has much more to do with the weather than with his competitor.
Bharat Modi, 45, has run the newsstand for two years, working seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m., he said.
"We sell the same things, but his customers are different than mine," Modi said of the other newsstand, which the MTA confirmed has operated there since 2005.
The MTA newsstand's customers are entering the subway, whereas the patrons buying from Modi are walking straight through the square or accessing the station from its southern entrance, he said.
This winter was also very hard on business, he said.
"We closed for 20 days starting January 5 because of the snow," Modi explained, noting the constant blanket of white stuff made the path to the newsstand difficult for patrons to navigate.
He added the spring and summer mean more customers and the chance to sell popular seasonal items like ice cream and cold drinks.
"If business is good, I will stay," he said. "Nobody wants to lose his baby."
The Parks Department did not immediately respond for request for comment about its timetable for installing a food vendor at the square or plans for Modi's business.