Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: October 26, 1996

Release #553-96

Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958, Deirdra L. Picou (212) 788-2971, or Nydia Negron (212) 788-9364


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced today the completion of improvements at La Marqueta, a public market in East Harlem that has served the Puerto Rican and Latino community for more than 60 years. The Mayor also announced the selection of El Nuevo Barrio Management Group, Inc., to manage the historic retail market.

"La Marqueta is a neighborhood institution in East Harlem's El Barrio and will continue to offer residents quality foods and goods, as well as provide an outdoor location to enjoy special cultural and community events," said Mayor Giuliani. "I am also pleased that a local management company, El Nuevo Barrio, will manage this important market."

"I am proud to be part of this Administration's efforts to see through the completion of these improvements at La Marqueta, which greatly enhance the quality of life in East Harlem," said Herman Badillo, who heads Mayor Giuliani's Task Force on the revitalization of La Marqueta.

The $1.4 million improvements at La Marqueta, which were made by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), include a new open-air plaza between 115th and 116th streets, beneath the Metro North railroad viaduct on Park Avenue, and a new facade for the market entrance. The plaza has new lighting, pavement and stairs connecting the plaza's various levels, handicap-accessible ramps and other features. It will be used for cultural functions and various outdoor retail activities and will also provide greater visibility for the market and help attract more visitors. The new facade for the market includes a double set of glass doors as well as an awning with lighting and special neon signage inside the glass panels.

Thirty-two of the market's 38 stalls have been leased and include a diverse group of tenants. From the new restaurant, "El Fog˘n," to a new flower shop, "Galerˇa de las Flores," these tenants offer a wide selection of goods. Other stalls include fresh produce, textiles, candy, clothing, perfumes, arts and crafts and a new fish market.

The City is currently negotiating with several entities to find the best possible use for the three vacant buildings at the market. The goal is to find a development which meets the needs of the community, corresponds with the market identity and results in private investment in the market and the surrounding East Harlem area.

La Marqueta was created in 1936 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to provide a permanent home for push cart vendors and improve the quality of life for East Harlem residents. The market has served as a source of great Latino culinary specialities and an important symbol of Hispanic culture but fell into disrepair more than 10 years ago. Mayor Giuliani pushed for the revitalization to take place and committed the City money and resources necessary to undertake the renovations.

"For years promises were made to renovate La Marqueta and nothing happened. Under Mayor Giuliani's leadership, La Marqueta is once again an attractive marketplace and cultural center that offers great economic potential for vendors and great merchandise for shoppers," said EDC President Charles Millard.

El Nuevo Barrio Management Group, Inc., a new company, formed by East Harlem business leaders Nick Lugo and Alfredo Rodriguez, will work with the local community to stimulate business and cultural activities at La Marqueta. Lugo, president of the new company, is an owner of travel agencies in East Harlem and throughout the City. For the past seven years, he has organized the 116th Street festival, a well-attended street fair held each year in June. Rodriguez, secretary of El Nuevo Barrio, is an owner of an Associated Supermarket in the neighborhood and is a board member of the East Harlem Board of Commerce and the LDC del Barrio.

"Mayor Giuliani promised East Harlem residents that he would make the revitalized La Marqueta a reality and we are proud to be able to play a part in the fulfillment of that promise," Rodriguez said. "La Marqueta has had an important role in East Harlem for more than half a century, and now this tradition will continue. This is only the first of many future gatherings in the plaza at La Marqueta."

The ceremony also featured children from Instituto Bellas Artes Plas Carrasco, a fine arts school in Harlem, and Juan y Los Turpiales, a seven-piece Latin American band. The groups performed various Puerto Rican and Latin American pieces in honor of the opening of La Marqueta and Hispanic Heritage Month.

La Marqueta is a public marketplace owned by the City and managed by EDC since 1992. With vendors specializing in produce, groceries and other products typically associated with the Latino culture, the market has long been an important economic and cultural site for this community.

EDC is the City's primary vehicle for economic development services. Using its real estate and financial resources, it helps develop businesses and create jobs throughout the five boroughs.

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