By Lois Weiss
September 5, 2016 |9:32pm
The Hunts Point produce market may finally get fresh digs.
The privately run wholesale fruit and vegetable cooperative in The Bronx is talking again with the city about building entirely new warehouses to accommodate the market’s growing space needs, The Post has learned.
A previous $400 million plan that would have added capacity on the city-owned site — but kept about 1 million square feet of existing warehouses — has been scrapped.
The latest lease negotiations with the city’s Economic Development Corp. are focused on new buildings that would be constructed in stages, according to Joel Fierman, co-president of the 38-member co-op.
As each member moved in, the old warehouses would be torn down.
New FDA safety regulations that impose strict standards for water and soil testing and require labels identifying the originating farm on every food box are bringing renewed urgency to a situation that has dragged on for nearly two decades.
The 113-acre market, which sits on a peninsula between the Bronx and East rivers, is the world’s largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables and serves the region’s wholesale and retail businesses, including supermarkets, produce stands and mom-and-pop stores.
The co-op merchants have long complained about the site’s shortcomings — cramped quarters and vehicle congestion among them — and at one point threatened to pull up stakes and move to New Jersey.
Food comes and goes by air, rail and truck. There are 13 miles of interior track along with 120,000 tractor-trailers and a million buyers with small vans and trucks all vying for space.
Without enough cold storage in the warehouses, hundreds of parked refrigerated trailers operate on the market’s fenced-in site. These trailers run primarily on diesel fuel and spew fumes.
Fierman says his company, Fierman’s Produce Exchange, and other co-op owners already use some trailers that can operate on electricity part-time.
“But as we move toward cleaner energy, there is no electrical capacity to support the infrastructure,” he said.
To that end, the city is working with the market to fund $10.5 million worth of capital improvement projects over a seven-year period, including lighting and electrical upgrades, a City Economic Development spokesman said.
In addition, $8.5 million in city capital has been committed for rail upgrades.
The agency will also be working with the market on the long-term redevelopment plan.
Even so, a new facility will almost certainly cost more to develop than the plan fleshed out just a few years ago, when the co-op owners balked at sharing half the cost.
They also complained bitterly at the time about strict oversight by the Business Integrity Commission, which has evolved into a more cordial relationship.
“Everyone seems to be a little more aggressive and for this plan,” Fierman said. “We are on the last five years of the seven-year lease option [with the city]. They are agreeable and have come to the table.”
- Read original story here: http://nypost.com/2016/09/05/hunts-point-market-in-talks-with-city-for-new-warehouses/