Old Boston collides with new storage dispute at Haymarket

Sandwiched between Boston’s North End and Faneuil Hall, Haymarket has been a downtown staple for centuries, with about three dozen vendors pitching tents and selling bargain wares from dawn to dusk every Friday. and Saturdays.

But like much of Boston, even Blackstone Street is changing, and now Gallotto and his fellow vendors are faced with a dilemma: finding storage space for the vast amount of tents, tables, pallets and supplies their market has need to operate.

Early morning shoppers browsed the selection at Haymarket on Friday. A new hotel, visible behind the tents, has been built on land that vendors at the historic open-air market have long used for storage and now they are in dispute with the hotel over materials stored on the sidewalk.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

In March, a new hotel opened on a long empty lot where Haymarket vendors had stored their supplies in the past. When plans were underway, the hotel’s developers — The Canopy by Hilton Boston Downtown — agreed to provide 1,600 square feet of ground-floor storage space to the Pushcart Association and let vendors use it. the hotel’s garbage services. While the hotel and market still abide by that agreement, Gallotto says there isn’t enough space to store all of the market’s supplies.

“We have the pallets, we have all these tents, and anything that people can’t sell they have to put back in their car and drive home,” Gallotto said. “I went out and rented a storage container to put some of our tents in to make room. And when it’s Saturday and you break down, that’s just not enough.

Vendors have stocked supplies on the sidewalk since the market closed on Saturday until it reopened the following week. The hotel objected to this by issuing a notice of default, Gallotto said, and ask sellers to find an alternative within 30 days.

Gallotto said Friday afternoon the hotel had requested mediation and the two sides were expected to meet to discuss a solution in mid-September.

The hotel and its developer declined maintenance requests, but in a statement the hotel said it “recognizes from the outset the historic role that Haymarket vendors (organized through the Haymarket Pushcart Association) play in as a resource for our community”, and they aim to coexist.

“We met regularly with Haymarket’s suppliers throughout the development process to ensure they had the tools they needed to thrive,” the statement said. “We remain open to further collaboration with vendors to help them maximize the space we have made available to them in our building. However, storing additional materials on our property (outside of their storage facility) raises several operational, health and safety issues. »

Yet it’s the kind of collision that can seem almost inevitable in a crowded, fast-paced city.

And as the situation has spread, there are growing fears that Haymarket could be ‘crowded out’, as the sellers put it, by the new hotel. About 800 people have signed an online petition supporting the market – which, with its exceptionally low prices on produce, has long served as a lifeline for many low-income Bostonians.

Otto Gallotto did an early morning fruit test when setting up his stand in Haymarket.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“It means a lot to customers,” said Frank Spinale, a 91-year-old Revere buyer. He’s been coming to Haymarket for 75 years. “The product is still cheap money. It is much cheaper than supermarkets. It’s a nice neighborhood where people can eat cheaply.

Vendor Rieng Kim has worked at the market since she was 18 years old. She knows how the place works and thinks the new setup will become even less convenient when there’s snow and ice everywhere.

“When winter comes, it will be even more of a headache,” Kim said. “It’s tough. It’s harder for us to earn a living, and it’s two days.

One possible solution is another nearby lot at the corner of Creek Square and Blackstone Street, which Haymarket is temporarily using to keep objects away from the sidewalk. But the landlord wants $8,500 a month in rent for the entire land, Gallotto said, and that’s just prohibitively expensive.

“He’s also a businessman, you know what I mean?” says Gallotto. “So that’s what it came down to. I thought we might get a third of the lot…he didn’t want to participate.

Despite the storage difficulties, Gallotto says Haymarket has a strong relationship with the hotel and hopes the two parties can find a solution when they meet later this month.

“We tried to be very accommodating, you know,” Gallotto said. “So when it comes to not having enough space, maybe someone should help us find a way to make it a little easier for us.”

Aymane Mahi prepared to move the tomatoes using a lift in Haymarket early Friday morning. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Collin Robisheaux can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ColRobisheaux.

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