Park Avenue Market Mile is a project conceived by Harlem CDC, Irwin Cohen and Meta Brunzema Architects to redevelop the land under the Park Avenue MetroNorth railroad viaduct from 110th to 132nd streets.  From a series of parking lots and remnants of the historic La Marqueta marketplace, the area will be transformed into a lively open air complex of locally owned shops run by people who live in Harlem and East Harlem.  A public shopping promenade with cultural activities reconnecting the east and west sides of the Park Avenue viaduct and linking Central Park to Harlem River Park will be created.  Each block will be unique in its reference to historically significant aspects of the community, including the former natural topography, geology and placement of important historic paths.  In addition, La Marqueta will express the vivid character that made it a special gathering space for generations of immigrants, specifically those of Puerto Rican decent. Special cultural programs including movies , theater & performances may be organized to take place at the amphitheater between 115th and 116th street. Special exhibits may take place throughout the site.

It is envisioned that La Marqueta will consist of 315 family- owned and operated businesses employing approximately 750 full time residents of Harlem and East Harlem.  Each business will be given a license agreement to sign that will stipulate that their enterprise must consist of a combination of onsite production and retail in spaces of approximately 80 square feet.  Low-cost small business units will be provided to local entrepreneurs to create “local family wealth.”  Public health will be improved by providing small hydroponic units / skylights on top of the buildings (i.e. year-round fresh food production).  Health and education programs will be created.

The team is seeking to build the project with the lowest carbon footprint practical, the reuse of existing materials is very important.  In addition to dismantling the existing La Marqueta structures and reusing its material as decorative elements throughout the project’s open spaces, the team will use discarded shipping containers found around the Port of New York and New Jersey to house the businesses and adapted to kiosks.  These containers will be cut, reshaped and arranged on the site to avoid conflicting with the operations and maintenance of the railroad viaduct above.  It is planned that each business will receive a “plug in” for electricity, gas and possibly steam.  Service will be provided by the New York Power Authority at a significant discount. 

Each block will have its own manager and several assistants who will address overall maintenance of La Marqueta.  The managers will use PDA’s to keep accurate records so that the boss can provide reports to an overseeing committee made up of representatives from the local community, including elected officials and staff from Harlem CDC and EDC.  Cleaning and security will be done 24 hours per day in three 8 hour shifts.  Each crew will be given prevailing wages.