NYC's biggest produce market may relocate

June 11, 2008 12:24:38 PM PDT
America's biggest wholesale produce market is looking to leave New York - if the city doesn't help rebuild the aging, outdated facility in the Bronx. Steven Katzman, co-president of Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, a vendors group, said a meeting is scheduled in late June to consider options for moving the market to New Jersey.

"But we'd rather stay here," he added.

The Hunts Point market supplies 3.3 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables a year worth over $2 billion to more than 10 million consumers, vying with France's giant Rungis produce market just south of Paris for sheer size and volume of sales.

The vendors' cooperative pays more than $4 million a year to use the 125-acre, city-owned facility, which includes about 400,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouses, plus railroad tracks, loading docks and parking for trucks.

Katzman said the 41-year-old market is not up to today's standards, citing as an example its open loading docks without refrigeration.

Katzman said the city's Economic Development Corp. had come up with an initial rebuilding proposal that would cost $750 million, as estimated by a city-hired consultant.

The vendors want the city to contribute about $150 million, with the rest of the money coming from state, federal and private funding. They also believe the project can be done more cheaply, for between $450 million to $500 million.

Katzman said the vendors are frustrated because they have been talking to the city about the project for eight years and have yet to receive a commitment. Their 30-year lease expires in 2011.

EDC officials "listened, and they said they wanted to study this plan," Katzman said. "But they haven't said yes, and we need a new market."

Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for New York's Economic Development Corp., did not immediately return a call for comment.

The Bronx produce market is close to the new Fulton Fish Market, which moved to the Bronx in 2005 from lower Manhattan, where it operated for 180 years.

The side-by-side Bronx locations of the city's two wholesale markets make the South Bronx a one-stop-shopping destination for buyers.


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