Reopen NYC: MTA brings back Turnstyle Underground Market, proposes financial relief to tenants

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
MTA reopens underground market on Upper West Side
Lauren Glassberg has more on the MTA's reopening of underground markets in the Columbus Circle subway station.

COLUMBUS CIRCLE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Turnstyle, the collection of small businesses in the Columbus Circle subway station, reopened to the public Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced.

The block-long retail complex will again feature shopping and an array of food vendors serving up cuisines from around the world for grab-and-go take-out.

"This entire market is all about the commuters those riding the subways, those going to work, and tourists, and all of those aren't happening," the owner of Woops! Macarons, Pooja Danay, said.

Danay has reopened her tiny macaron kiosk at one end of the corridor.

During the coronavirus pandemic her landlord gave huge rent breaks and now the MTA has a new strategy to help business owners.

"We are developing a plan, a financial relief plan, for our tenants from a fixed rent system to a percentage rent system. So our interests are aligned," Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction and Development, said.

So the more macarons Danay sells the more rent she'll pay, and the same for the donut maker, the barbershop, and the ramen restaurant.

"It will make it easier to smooth back into it," Jonathan Viera, owner of Boil Boil Ramen, said.

Viero says business was strong before the COVID-19 outbreak, now he just needs more customers to return.

"It's been really hard for the small businesses so its important to show up, show support, and help them keep going along. We need them to make the city what it is," Kelly, a customer, said.

The percentage rent system will also apply to newstands and mom and pop businesses throughout the MTA system, but not for nationwide chains.

With ridership down 70% on the subways, the MTA is desperate to bring in revenue.

"We are approaching the fiscal cliff and eventually the money runs out," Lieber said.

Something Danay understands all too well, she has already closed three of her Woops! locations in the City.

She hopes Turnstyle swings the right way.

"We're just very thankful for the assistance we're getting from Turnstyle and the MTA we want to do what we can," Danay said.

Among the 20 stores scheduled reopen are Lisa's Dumplings, Dylan's Candy, Champion Pizza, Yong Kang, Boil Boil Ramen, Daa Dumplings, Criollas Empanadas, Bolivian Llama Party, Pressed Juicery, Taheni, Hotel Chocolat, Doughnuttery, Panda Bubble Tea, Woops, and EZ Paella.

Additionally, retail stores QB House hair salon, Underground Wine & Spirits, Lush Soaps, Dog & Co., and Cellaris.

Turnstyle may be reached directly from 1-A-B-C-D trains, or from street entrances at Eighth Avenue and 57th and 58th Streets.

MORE NEWS: Watch Eyewitness to a Pandemic

The sense of doom grew, especially after March 1, when the first confirmed case arrived in Manhattan. Soon, there was a hotspot in New Rochelle, and small curfews and containment zones across the area offered a hint of a frightening future we still thought we could avoid.

RELATED: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut out-of-state travelers quarantine list


Back to school information

How coronavirus changed the New York region

Do you have coronavirus symptoms?

What's Open, What's Closed in the Tri-State area

COVID-19 Help, Information. Stimulus and Business Updates


New York City

New Jersey

Long Island

Westchester and Hudson Valley


abc7NY Phase Tracker: