As the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) moves forward with its 20-year Hunts Point Vision Plan, members of Community Board 2 want the project to be equitable for all residents, not just the corporations in the area.
EDC is the biggest landlord in the district and has multiple projects underway. In addition to the city’s Food Distribution Center, which provides almost five billion pounds of food to restaurants, supermarkets and bodegas, Hunts Point is home to 12,000 residents — many who work in essential service industries.
Because of the unique importance of Hunts Point, in 2004, the city and the community developed the Hunts Point Vision Plan through a joint planning process. The plan focused on improving the quality of life and overall community safety, and subsequently brought hundreds of new jobs and opportunities to residents. According to Community Board 2 District Manager Ralph Acevedo, Hunts Point Forward was created in coordination with the vision plan to consolidate the projects and hold the EDC more accountable.
But on Dec. 8, Acevedo expressed his frustrations with the EDC when the city agency provided an update on the plan to the CB2 Economic Development and Municipal Services Committee. Acevedo said the board wants to make sure the vision plan isn’t just to improve the business of EDC tenants — like Baldor, Anheuser-Busch and Krasdale — but rather the entire community.
“EDC is the gatekeeper here and what they’re proposing sounds good, but we don’t know how much will actually happen,” Acevedo said. “When the final product is made, we want to make sure there is equity in our district.”
Nate Gray, vice president of EDC, seemed caught off guard that Acevedo would assert EDC was not trying to help everyone. Gray said EDC held a public meeting in February and two in September for the community to attend and participate in.
Acevedo spoke with the Bronx Times after the Dec. 8 meeting and further explained the board’s position. The district manager said the board has always supported the Hunts Point Vision Plan, but is concerned EDC shows favoritism to its own tenants.
“I’ve also pushed EDC to have their tenants get more involved with the local community since the residents are impacted the greatest,” Acevedo said. “That’s a goal of mine since I became district manager. If I’m not mistaken, they all benefit from tax incentives and have long-term leases at affordable rents.”
Since becoming district manager in 2016, Acevedo has been advocating for EDC to incentivize businesses in hiring locally and contributing to local community-based organizations and churches. The hope is that the EDC will work with local residents to find them employment, he said.
“These are career, union jobs that can make a financial impact on local families,” Acevedo said. “EDC can spearhead this.”
Beyond the recommendations outlined in the 2004 vision plan, the EDC and city agencies are advancing several significant projects in Hunts Point:
- Redevelopment of the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center into The Peninsula, a mixed-use campus with more than 700 affordable homes, public open space, commercial and community facility space, and industrial jobs.
- Planning for a new Hunts Point Metro-North Railroad station that will connect local residents to jobs and destinations in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Connecticut.
- Committing $67 million to upgrade the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant to improve air quality and energy efficiency.
- Protecting New York City’s food supply by providing back-up power to critical facilities in the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center through a tri-generation microgrid.
- Enhancing social resiliency by implementing solar energy and storage at two neighborhood schools, which can serve as community gathering spaces during emergencies.
According to Chairman Robert Crespo, the board can’t fully support EDC’s plans unless it is completely involved in the process. Crespo added that CB2 was not even invited to a ribbon cutting earlier this year for the unveiling of the largest solar panel project in the borough at Krasdale.
“Your meetings that you had in the community, when and where were they?” Crespo asked. “I’ve never seen any meetings.”
However, an EDC spokesman disagrees with Acevedo’s assertion that it does not look for residents.
“Connecting Hunts Point community members to good paying jobs could not be more important,” the spokesman said. “NYCEDC is working closely and diligently with the community on the Hunts Point Vision Plan, which will address and develop recommendations that have a lasting impact on people’s lives. We have heard from residents and community stakeholders about what they would like to see implemented and look forward to finalizing a plan that is truly reflective of the neighborhood’s needs.”
Reach Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.