A very interesting NY Sun story about the future of the "Honest Boy" fruit stand at the southeast corner of Broadway and Houston. Many people, including Gothamist, love the stand for fresh fruit at all times ($2 for a container of delicious, refreshing watermelon!), and now, Honest Boy's owner Pan Gi Lee and the MTA are meeting with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to propose turning the old stand into a "two-story glass, steel, and aluminum building." The Sun notes that the LPC had to be involved, because it's in a historic district, but this seems to follow the city's plans to glass-and-steel up newsstands and bus shelters. But some people are worried it'll become charmless. The Sun also has a little bit on the history of the corner:
The MTA owns the land — about 1,000 square feet — and leases it to Mr. Lee. The agency has encouraged the proprietor to fix up the place, according to [architect Tobias] Guggenheimer [who designed the proposed new design] and a source at the MTA.
In the last decade, the corner has exploded with foot and vehicular traffic, as well as billboards that now line the brick facades around one of the busiest shopping corners in the city.
In the mid-1980s, before SoHo transformed, community groups saved the previous operators, Louis and Carmen Arenas, from eviction. In 1992, following community protests, the MTA backed away from plans to clear the stand to erect an electrical substation. In 2000, the agency wanted to expand its parking lot and storage facility immediately to the east, threatening to squeeze out the fruit stand.
Just more than a year ago, Mr. Arenas became ill and transferred the lease to Mr. Lee, who operates several stores in Manhattan. Mr. Arenas is said to have paid $200 a month for the site.A source at the MTA would not say how much the current tenant pays, but he said it is "not significant."
While we love the old stand, we did wish that Mr. Lee has air-conditioning during last week's heat wave. And since the MTA could turn the stand into something else, we're glad the agency is still interested in keeping it a fruit stand. Here's hoping for the best.
Photograph from Annette Weintraub, who wrote about the fruit stand here