The loss of the Hunts Point Market and its 3,000 jobs would be another serious blow to the Bronx. It would be another in a long line of businesses (Farberware, Everlast, Loral Corporation, Stella D’Oro, Melba Toast) that have abandoned NYC’s poorest borough in two decades. Further evidence that the federal enterprise zone should have been located in the nation’s poorest congressional district, instead of Harlem.
The Bloomberg Adminstration’s Economic Development Corporation must continue to negotiate despite the blackmail threat. Both the city and state have invested resources and tax credits to modernize the HPM. More is on the way. The area needs a targeted investment strategy and a community policing plan that makes the businesses and workers feel safe. Stay tuned.
Hunts Point Produce market considers N.J. move
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Record
Staff Writer
The Hunts Point market in New York, the largest produce market in the nation, is weighing a move across the Hudson River that could bring more than 3,000 jobs to New Jersey.
The New York City Terminal Produce Co-operative Market at Hunts Point in the South Bronx, which supplies grocers and restaurants in the tri-state area, has flirted with New Jersey before. Newark unsuccessfully wooed the market two years ago, as did the state in the mid-1990s.
This time the produce market says it’s seriously considering New Jersey — and not just playing hardball with its landlord.
The produce market has hired the commercial real estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle to help negotiate with its landlord and also scout locales on this side of the Hudson as well as in or near New York City.
“We need the proximity to New York. We don’t have to actually be in New York,” said Stephen Katzman of Mahwah, co-president of the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association Inc.
Taxes, rents and construction costs are generally lower west of the Hudson, and
New Jersey can offer financial incentives for jobs and capital investments, Katzman said.
“Jersey is a very, very attractive alternative,” he said, adding that such a move would bring its challenges. “The real unknown is, will our customers follow?”
Whether the Hunts Point produce market will ever come the way of New York institutions before it — the Giants, Jets and Nets in the ’70s and ’80s, for example — remains to be seen.
The Yankees and New York Stock Exchange had famously threatened to relocate here but didn’t. But New Jersey has recently scored a significant win from New York: Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., a financial services firm, plans to move to Jersey City in 2013.
The Hunts Point produce market traces its history to 1765 in lower Manhattan, a spokesman said. The cooperative moved to the Bronx in 1967, and has a membership of 45 vendors and employs more than 3,000 workers.
The produce market is considering New Jersey sites within 10 miles of the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel, which could include space in the Meadowlands areas of Bergen and Hudson counties, Katzman said. The market would need to construct modern, larger facilities of 600,000 to 800,000 square feet on 75 to 100 acres, according to Katzman and Jones Lang LaSalle. The lease expires in 2011.
In 1994, the cooperative met with state officials but had not hired a broker, said Gil Medina, who was the state’s commerce secretary at the time. “They never got to that point,” he said.
Medina believes the cooperative had actually weighed moving to New Jersey and did not just try to get a favorable offer to bargain with its landlord, the New York City Economic Development Corp.
“They engaged with us in very serious conversations and we did very detailed financial analyses for them,” said Medina, who is now an executive managing director at the commercial real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield in East Rutherford.
Katzman insisted the cooperative isn’t just playing hardball this time as it renegotiates a new lease.
The cooperative and the city’s Economic Development Corp. have agreed on designs for a new, modern facility, but both sides haven’t yet settled on how much the city would contribute to construction costs and how much rent the produce market would pay.
The market pays the EDC about $5.5 million a year in rent for its approximately 440,000-square-foot warehousing facility, Katzman said.
Also at issue have been fees and rules put in place by the Business Integrity Commission, a city law enforcement agency that that oversees New York’s six wholesale food markets. The agency and the produce market are at odds over proposed new rules and increased fees for the city’s markets.
The EDC declined to comment on the negotiations with the Hunts Point market, but spokeswoman Julie Wood said in an e-mailed statement: “We are currently in the midst of negotiations, and we hope to make progress soon.”
New Jersey officials with the state Economic Development Authority refused to comment. A representative of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s office also declined to comment. Guadagno oversees economic development efforts and the streamlining of government regulations for the Christie administration.
But Katzman said state officials have initially been more than accommodating.
“Jersey is very, very aggressive. They’re welcoming us with open arms so far at the government level,” Katzman said. “As you get down to the individual developers, we’re not quite sure how much that good feeling is going to stay.”
The Hunts Point market in New York, the largest produce market in the nation, is weighing a move across the Hudson River that could bring more than 3,000 jobs to New Jersey.