Prime cut (of real estate): How meatpackers persist in the Meatpacking District

EDC compromise helped remaining industry score rents at $19 psf
November 16, 2015 04:38PM

You might not have known it, but among the high-end retail storefronts and trendy nightclubs and restaurants, there are still some meatpackers left in the Meatpacking District.

In fact, the Meatpacking District itself is the last holdout among the many marketplaces that once flourished in Manhattan – with the Fulton Fish Market having decamped to the Bronx in 2005, wholesalers having withered from the Flower District on West 28th Street and the Printing District at Hudson Square all out of ink.

The last Downtown meatpackers, however, are hanging in there, according to Crain’s. Seven firms employ around 120 people huddled in an 80,000-square-foot building located underneath the southern edge of the High Line.

It’s a far cry from the district’s heyday in the 1950s, when it housed 200 companies employing 3,000 butchers and wholesalers from stretching south from 14th to Horatio Streets And From Ninth Avenue west to the Hudson River.

The remaining meatpackers in the Meatpacking District collectively take in around $250 million in revenue, which is miniscule compared with $5 billion in sales at the massive Hunts Point marketplace in the Bronx that is home to the city’s largest distributors.

But the boutique downtown meat market endures, thanks in part to logistic challenges that make it difficult for trucks from outside the borough to beat the traffic and make deliveries in Manhattan.

The industry can also thank the power of compromise, with the meatpackers – who have functioned as a co-op since 1974 – ceding part of their space to the Economic Development Corp. in 2012 to make way for the new Whiney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort Street.

In return, the city extended their lease 2032 – with the meatpackers paying only about $18.75 per square foot for their location, according to the EDC. That’s astonishingly low when considering that average asking retail rent in the Meatpacking District is $372 per square foot. [Crain’s]Rey Mashayekhi