In a move that many are criticizing as the next wave of gentrification in the South Bronx, Somerset Partners founder Keith Rubenstein recently revealed plans to turn a 16,000-square-foot warehouse into an “affordable” food hall. The real estate developer has acquired the waterfront property at 9 Bruckner Boulevard and plans to open the space as Bruckner Market within the next 12 to 18 months. The food hall will reportedly host a restaurant, food stands, and a fresh food market.
Somerset Partners reportedly bought the old warehouse for $7.5 million, according to The Real Deal. The food hall, which could be expanded to cover up to 30,000 square feet, is intended to follow the model set by other trendy dining establishments around the city. Rubenstein told The Real Deal he envisions a fresh food market, food stands, sit-down restaurants, and maybe even a beer garden. “We have a great hospitality and restaurant concept that we want to do there,” he said. “It will provide great food and beverage options at affordable prices for the existing community and new community.”
Rubenstein’s plans are controversial to many, as the developer already owns two other waterfront properties in the borough, as well as the residential property across the street from the market’s future home (which he owns with the Chetrit Group). Rubenstein is also a backer of the Mott Haven café Filtered Coffee, which opened earlier this year. With a single developer having his hands in so many real estate projects in one borough, critics fear that smaller businesses will be edged out entirely.
Elsewhere in the city, food halls have popped up in several boroughs, marking a growing trend not only for real estate, but for dining and entertainment options for residents and visitors to the city. Rubenstein envisions bringing the Bruckner Market to life quickly, opening in as little as a year. Meanwhile, at least two other major food hall concepts are planned for the South Bronx—one backed by chef Massimo Bottura and actor Robert DeNiro, and the other a renovation of the Bronx General Post Office by Youngwoo & Associates. The Bottura/DeNiro project hasn’t announced a location yet, but Rubenstein kindly informed The Real Deal that they could join him at Bruckner Market. “We’d be happy to provide a home for it,” he said.
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