Supporting Small Business in NYC: The Harlem Metro Market Project

The Harlem Community Development Corporation has come up with a rather unique plan to combat high real estate prices in the district. It proposes establishing an open-air market under the Metro North tracks spanning one mile, or 22 city blocks. This new market would accommodate about 900 vendors, helping to increase the now low number of local entrepreneurs and independent retail stores in Harlem.

The market would not only attract vendors, but tourist traffic as well, which would help rejuvenate a neighborhood hampered by soaring commercial real estate costs. It costs anywhere from $125 to $225 per square foot for commercial space in Harlem’s prime locations, resulting in only 42 stores for every 10,000 residents. The Metro market project would ease pressure on small, independent retailers and allow potential entrepreneurs the chance to create viable businesses in the city.

This need for such a project reflects the economic trends and challenges facing the larger New York urban area’s middle class. New York City has the nation’s highest cost of living, and like the rest of the nation, is still experiencing the effects of the recession. The middle class, including small business owners facing high rents, struggles to make the six-figure salaries needed to meet the city’s high cost of living.

Harlem’s Metro market project, which would encourage an independent entrepreneurial spirit, embodies the required plan of action for New York City. The city needs to find inventive ways to deal with its economic reality in order to reverse the recession and revitalize its appeal to the energetic and the ambitious.