The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative isn’t going anywhere, for now.
On Wednesday, June 1, New York City officials and market representatives announced they had reached an agreement for a three-year lease extension for the food center to stay in the Bronx.
New Jersey has been wooing the market across the Hudson, and an eventual move still is possible if the regional produce distribution center does not get the approximately $320 million worth of upgrades it needs. The previous lease expired on Tuesday, May 31, but the lease extension gives the city and the market more time to negotiate the public/private breakdown of the funds needed for any improvements. It also gives the city exclusive negotiating rights with the market for the next nine months, but northern New Jersey is waiting in the wings should they fail to reach an agreement.
Josephine Infante, president of the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation, said the extension is a step in the right direct.
“The market getting a three-year extension is absolutely critical to a better understanding of the owners by the government and the government by the owners,” Infante said.
She did caution that there is still a large gap between the two sides, and failure to reach an agreement would be disastrous.
“Right now, in terms of public funding, for a real true makeover of the market, the funds aren’t high,” she said.
The Hunts Point Market is the largest of its kind in the Unites States.
“It’s an asset to the Bronx and it’s a treasure to New York City,” Infante said. “If they move it the economic recovery would take at least 10 years.”
However, the one-million-square-foot site is over 40 years old and many of its facilities, such as refrigeration areas, have become obsolete. Mayor Bloomberg expressed confidence that the extension would lead to a “larger, modernized market,” before the three years are up.
“It’s great news that the co-op will remain in the Bronx for at least the next three years, and we’re more optimistic today than ever that it will thrive there for many more years to come,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Terminal president Stephen Katzman was also positive about the center’s future in the Bronx.
“This interim agreement will allow us the necessary time to negotiate the best financial deal to secure a long-term home for the world’s largest produce market,” Katzman said in his statement.
In addition to supplying produce to the entire northeast region, the market brings billions of dollars worth of revenue into the city each year. It is also the source of approximately 3,000 union jobs for the borough, a plurality of which belong to Teamsters Local 202.
Union president Daniel Kane said his membership’s preference is to stay in the Bronx, and he hopes that both sides make the best of the extra negotiating time.
“From a workers’ point of view I think we need to see the city make this a priority,” he said. “So that the market and everything around it thrives, not just for another three years, but for another 50 years.”
©2011 Community News Group