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Feds sweeten pot to keep Hunts Point produce market from Garden State

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With New Jersey back on the suitor’s list, the federal government just put up some mega cabbage to keep the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market from leaving to the Garden State.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg jointly announced another $25 million in federal funding for improvements to the sprawling market, which is in serious need of upgrading.

The new funding brings the total pledged amount of city, state and federal funding to $172.5 million - completing the committed taxpayer half of the $332.5 million needed to modernize the transportation, warehousing and distribution facilities there.

Now the market’s co-op members have to decide if they’ll put up the rest of the money needed or see if New Jersey can offer greener pastures - and funding.

The city has carved out three separate exclusive lease negotiation agreements in the past with the market that barred talks with New Jersey, with the latest one expiring August 31st.

The market’s board of directors are due to meet Tuesday, September 11 to decide on whether to again extend the exclusive lease negotiation agreement while they hash out the market’s financial contribution to the upgrade.

Cuomo and Bloomberg jointly announced the new federal funding to sweeten the pot on Tuesday, September 4 for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

With adjacent meat and fish markets, the produce market alone employs over 3,500 workers and supports another 3,000 indirect jobs, supplying millions of New Yorkers and others along the Eastern Seaboard.

Cuomo said in a statement that the latest funding will help “keep thousands of jobs in New York and make sure that one of the largest food distribution centers remains in the Bronx.”

He added it “will also increase access to key downstate markets for farmers across New York.”

The 40-year-old market is the second largest wholesale market in the world, supplying 60 percent of fresh produce sales within New York City with an estimated $2.3 billion in annual revenue.

It’s also the largest in-state market for New York farmers and during the growing season 15 percent of the produce sold there is grown in New York State.

Mayor Bloomberg said the federal funding now represents the final piece of the public sector’s contribution, “and we look forward to continuing our work with the Market Cooperative to reach a final agreement that will lead to a larger, more sustainable Market serving the Bronx - as well as the entire city and state - for generations to come.”

Cuomo and Bloomberg signaled their commitment to keeping the market in the Bronx by including $50 million in state funding and $87.5 million in capital funding and tax incentives.

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