Bring it on!
That’s the message from the Hunts Point Economic Development Corp. to City Comptroller John Liu on his promise to invest city pension funds in the Bronx.
They say they have plenty of potential investment opportunities at the sprawling Hunts Point Market, which just got a promise from of the city to invest in improvements to keep it from moving to New Jersey.
Liu spoke at the Hunts Point EDC’s May 23 membership luncheon about the program called Economically Targeted Investments of city pension funds in companies that create jobs in the city.
That could very well apply to help modernize the deteriorating Hunts Point Produce Market, already a region-wide hub serving supermarkets, restaurants, and other produce buyers.
“I think that this type of an idea is a phenomenal idea,” said HPEDC executive director Josephine Infante. “America invests in companies outside of the United States often. We should invest those pension monies with care in local companies. The produce market is a great example of where we can invest money for its future construction.”
The EDC considers building a new produce market to replace the existing one that first opened in the 1960s a top priority.
The current one, it argues, is no longer sufficient to handle the volume, Infante said.
Infante estimated that bringing the market up to operating capacity should cost about $350 million dollars, with about half being public money.
“We should get this project done right now,” she said, “because we need those jobs right now, not five years from now.”
She noted that Gov. Cuomo’s administration believes a new produce market is a top priority.
Complementing Economically Targeted Investments is a Capital Acceleration Plan, in which Liu said his office is looking to speed up investments it already plans to make in infrastructure over the next decade.
“The city already plans to borrow and spend on our infrastructure about $28.8 billion over the next 10 years,” Liu said. “It’s the long term capital plan.
He has proposed that “by accelerating just $2 billion of that, we can take advantage of low interest rates and low construction costs, thereby reducing the overall cost of our capital construction and improvement projects, and lower the overall costs to the taxpayers. We can put 15,000 jobs on the whole over the next year or two by accelerating that capital spending.”
Talks between the city, state, and the cooperative to build a new produce market are still ongoing, and the produce market was granted an extension on its lease for three months, expiring on Thursday, May 31.
Members of the cooperative that runs the produce market voted 21 to 19 to stay in the Bronx, pending the outcome of its working with the city to develop a new market facility, it was reported at the luncheon.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393