New York’s street vendors are mounting a campaign against displacement by real estate interests, writes Valeria Ricciulli in Curbed. “It is time that the real estate industry stopped running our city and controlling our public space,” says Mohamed Attia, executive director of the Street Vendor Project.
Hot dog vendor Mohamed Awad has watched his business in the Hudson Yards get slowly eaten away by real estate interests. When Hudson Yards opened in 2019, “Awad, his partners, and their employees began to face harassment from the police and Hudson Yards security, even though their carts are on a public sidewalk.” To make matters worse, property owner Related has added landscaping elements that the vendors see as a purposeful attempt to “push them out of Hudson Yards altogether.” Awad explained that since “city regulations explicitly require vendors to leave a 12-foot-wide clear path on the sidewalk in front of their carts,” the landscaping additions “effectively built him out of business.”
“After their rally, several street vendors took it upon themselves to push back, literally. The Street Vendor Project had found that Related didn’t have a DOT permit to set out that planter. So several street vendors worked together to shove it just far enough to make room for Awad’s cart, as Hudson Yards employees and several NYPD officers stood by.”
Days later, the planter had been moved back. Awad is undeterred. “I’ve been here before all of them,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I own [the space], but this is a public street. I’m not going to give up.”