Business Real Estate

Keeping Up With the Parcel 7 Public Food Market

Parcel 7 remains empty with a new Public Market now promised in 12-18 months.
Parcel 7 remains empty with a new Public Market now promised in 12-18 months.

Are you keeping up with the Parcel 7 public market debate? Parcel 7 is the 5-story building over the Haymarket T station with 310 parking spaces in a garage, an unoccupied ground floor and unused office space. Let’s review.

Sitting empty for years alongside the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Parcel 7 was designated a few years ago by State and City officials to house a “Public Food Market” on its ground floor, featuring “Made in Massachusetts” food offerings. The market space was chosen close to the Haymarket vendors (which would remain) and near the tourist traffic of Faneuil Hall. The offerings of local food would include vegees, cheese, fish, artisan bread and the like.

Last year, the State rejected two proposals for a public market on the ground floor of Parcel 7 based on questionable financial backing. WinnCompanies had proposed a market with 50 vendors and offered to move its own offices into the upper floors. Hersha Group, a hotel company, also proposed a market, Italian cafe, and a boutique hotel. Hersha wanted to add two more stories to the building. At the time, Banker & Tradesman thought the reasoning for the rejections was suspect and politically motivated (See Questions About For Parcels 7 and 9).

Then, just last week, the Patrick administration threw in $10 million ($4 million now, with the rest phased later) to get the space in shape for the food market, assumed to be setup by the nonprofit Boston Public Market Association. According to a Boston Globe article: “Given the $7 million it will cost to open, the public market association will have to raise millions, from either private sources or government grants, to start construction.”

Hmmm … it takes time to raise “millions,” and probably more than the 12-18 months targeted for opening.

The day after the State’s proposal to inject $10 million, the whole concept became more even complicated when the Boston Herald asked officials what exactly makes a market “public” and what happened to the idea of competitive bidding? On that point, the State’s MassDOT seemed to take a step back, saying “there’s “no guarantee” Boston Public Market will run the future 26,000-square-feet site.” The paper also raised a potential conflict of interest between Greg Bialecki, the State’s Secretary of Housing and Development who also happens to be a founder of the Boston Public Market Association.

Ok, so the Boston Public Market is going to raise “millions” yet it doesn’t even have a mandate for the site and the Mayor’s favored nonprofit has a potential conflict. This is the plan?

Syndicated columnist, Karen Cord Taylor, doesn’t care about a potential conflict. She argues in her column today that competitive bidding is well and good, but we all know the site is going to be designated for the Boston Public Market Association. They are good people that she knows, so let’s just get going before we end up with another Filene’s Hole situation. She even puts her money on the table. “Boston Public Market, since you need to raise $7 million yourselves toward this goal, I’m sending you $500 today to help in a small way. Readers, you should too.

Maybe we should just listen to North End/Waterfront resident, Bob Skole, who wrote a letter today to the Herald entitled, Nothing in Store. Bob says the State and City should just forget the public market and put the long-awaited downtown supermarket there. Trader Joe’s looked at the site years ago.

A public market at that site will be another politician-designed, greenie fiasco like the one in Portland, Maine. (Ed: which closed). The North End and West End neighborhoods have been pleading for a supermarket for years, and Parcel 7 would be perfect for a competitively-priced retailer, such as Trader Joe’s. The BRA, which seems to think it knows what’s best for all residents, insists a supermarket in the North End must be a giant, like Stop & Shop. But we will be pushing shopping carts in the Supermarket in Heaven before we get one.

Now you are up to date on Parcel 7, at least until tomorrow’s news cycle. Go there to park or catch the Green/Orange line, but bring your own food for the ride because there won’t be any vegees, cheese or bread there for a long time.

10 Replies to “Keeping Up With the Parcel 7 Public Food Market

  1. A public market sounds like a great idea to me, terrific to have so many local products available so close. If Trader Joe's wanted to go there, they should have put in a bid last year, what happened to the real supermarket we were supposed to get on North Washington?

    Stick with the locals.

  2. I would hope they stick the farmers market in that space. The market is dirty and nasty. I creates a GIANT wall between Fanuiel Hall and the North End. I would really like to see the farmers market go there or go period.

  3. The farmers market IS NOT the same as the Haymarket vendors. Two different species. Haymarket will remain outside and its mission is to provide affordable produce. The farmers market they are proposing is the high end stuff like the markets on the Greenway and Copley Square and City Hall Plaza. Two different target markets. Haymarket has been there forever, will stay there and not go anywhere. Making them be cleaner is a different story and I think the city public works dept is trying to address the issue even before a new fancy market is put in place.

  4. Yea, sorry wrong wording.
    As far as haymarket is concerned, I notice that the majority of people that buy goods there are not from the local area. They come in to town with cars and load up. If thats the case just move haymarket. To me personally its a eye sore and is basically a garbage dump in the middle of a clean city.

    The mess and ODOR that is left after the Fri-Sat is terrible. Walking thru there is not pleasant. It doesnt help North Ends rodent problem and adds to it.

    Has there ever been a movement to try to close down Haymarket?

  5. Looks like we may get the best of all worlds if we can get:

    1) The new Stop and Shop as noted in today's papers;

    2) A public market for "Massachusetts" meats, fish, produce, specialty foods, etc, and

    3) a cleaned up Haymarket

    Not that hard to do .. let's it done!

  6. Haymarket was never meant to be a LOCALS ONLY market. IF I follow your line of thinking, I shouldn't got to the farmers' market in Copley Square or Davis Square or on the Greenway because I live in the North End and I am from "outside" the area. Haymarket provides AFFORDABLE produce to residents of Boston and surrounding areas. If you don't like Haymarket you have several options ranging from avoiding the area on Fridays and Saturdays or moving to another neighborhood where the only produce they sell is the high end, every expensive stuff that not everyone can afford. My guess is that anyone who tries to organize a movement to shut Haymarket down might encounter a movement to have him/her run out of the neighborhood. Haymarket is part of the culture of the North End, just like the feasts. Its not going to change just because it offends the sensibilities of some new residents or long time residents who don't like it.

    The cleanliness issue is another thing. The city is trying to work with the Haymarket Pushcart Association. Keeping the pressure on the Public Works Dept would be far more productive then trying to find a way to get rid of something that might not be your ( or my) choice of produce providers but serves a wide segment of the city's population.

  7. The Haymarket wholesale produce vending area is dirty, period. Locals I know avoid it for that reason. Cleaning it up will improve the neighborhood.

  8. The Boston Food Festival which showed cased local food and produce this Sunday should send a message to City Hall. The crowd was between 30,000 to 50,000 all looking to support Made in Massachusetts

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