Today’s news:

Hunts Point Produce Market gets $29.5 million in state funds for upgrade

Bronx Times

The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market just received a sizeable monetary infusion from New York State, but full modernization of the facility is still a long way off.

On Friday, December 8, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the food distribution hub would receive $29.5 million in economic development funding, which would go towards its overhaul. But estimates on the total cost of upgrading the 44-year-old facility are around $300 million.

In June, the city and the market’s tenants, who operate as a cooperative, signed a lease extension that will keep it the Bronx until 2014. But government officials in New Jersey have expressed interest in drawing the market across the Hudson River.

Josephine Infante, president of the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation, said that the state money was reason for optimism.

“Speaking on behalf of myself and the market, it’s the beginning of a process,” Infante said.

The funding was part of a $785 million state-wide economic development initiative. The Hunts Point Terminal Market received more of the money than any other recipient in the city.

Infante said she was grateful to the state, and that she hoped to see contributions from other sources.

“It’s not about one source, its a full package,” she said. This is one piece of the puzzle. And it’s an important piece. In these hard times, to get anything is a miracle.”

Congressman Joe Crowley issued a statement commending the funding. He also called for the federal Department of Transportation to approve the New York City Regional Economic Development Council’s $35 million dollar grant application that would help modernize the delivery process into and out of the market.

“Not only are these state funds an investment in the Hunts Point Market, they are also an investment in the entire Bronx community. I thank Governor Cuomo and the New York City Regional Council for recognizing just how critical a revitalized Hunts Point Market is to the Bronx and all of New York City and I urge the DOT to follow suit,” Crowley said in the statement.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also thanked the governor for the financial support.

“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to maintaining and growing one of the largest industries of the Bronx,” Diaz said.

Matthew D’Arrigo, president of the cooperative, said the state funds were a step in the right direction. He stressed that it would be impossible to pinpoint the cost of modernizing the entire produce market, but a lot more money from a variety of sources is still needed.

“We still have a long way to go to get all of the funds necessary to put together the entire project,” he said. “But this is a good start and shows what is a good faith effort on the part of the state government to get the Hunts Point Market redeveloped and make it a competitive marketplace for the next 30 years.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at wweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394. Follow him on Twitter @bweisbrod

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