Once again tenants at the Hunts Point Wholesale Produce Terminal are talking with the New York City about construction of entirely new warehouses to accommodate the market’s growing space needs.
A previous $400 million plan has been eliminated that would have added capacity on the city-owned site — while keeping about 1 million square feet of existing warehouses. More recent negotiations with the NYC’s Economic Development Corp. focus on new buildings being constructed in stages. Each of members of the 38-member cooperative would have the old warehouses torn down.
Strict standards for water and soil testing are now in place from new FDA safety regulations. The regulations require labels identifying the originating farm on every food box.
The 113-acre market, which sits on a peninsula between the South Bronx and East rivers, is the world’s largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables. It serves the region’s wholesale and retail businesses, including supermarkets, produce stands and mom-and-pop stores.
The co-op merchants have long complained about the site’s shortcomings — cramped quarters and vehicle congestion. At one point Hunts Point wholesalers threatened to pull up stakes and move to New Jersey.
Food both arriving and departing the market is handled by air, rail and truck. T here are 13 miles of interior rail track along with 120,000 tractor-trailers and a million buyers with small vans and trucks all types vying for space.
Because there is not enough cold storage in the warehouses, hundreds of parked refrigerated trailers operate on the market’s fenced-in site. These trailers run primarily on diesel fuel contributing to pollution.
Another problem is Hunts Point lacks the electrical capacity to support the infrastructure.
The city is reported to be working with the market to fund $10.5 million worth of capital improvement projects over a seven-year period, including lighting and electrical upgrades.
Additionally, $8.5 million in city capital has been committed for rail upgrades. The city also will be working with the market on the long-term redevelopment plan.
Even so, a new facility will almost certainly cost more to develop than the plan fleshed out just a few years ago, when the co-op owners balked at sharing half the cost.
Hunts Point is in the last five years of the seven-year lease option with NYC.