The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the country’s largest food distribution market and the second biggest on the planet, will receive $10 million in federal funding to help bring the creaking forty-five year-old facility into the 21st century.
Two US senators from New York and two members of Congress announced in June that a federal transportation grant would be made available to the Market’s businesses, a cash infusion they hope will help keep the Market from moving to New Jersey. The businesses that comprise the Market have been locked in heated negotiations with the city, hoping the two sides can soon come to an agreement on a long-term lease.
But the city wants the businesses to pony up half of the $332 million needed to upgrade the Market, an amount business owners say is more than they can afford.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to hear that the Market has been selected for a $10 million TIGER grant,” said Hunts Point Co-Op co-chairs Matt D’Arrigo and Steve Katzman. “This is a critical piece of funding that will eventually lead to a new Market and keep family businesses in the Bronx where they’ve been for many years.”
The elected officials who helped push for the grant said the money will be used to upgrade the Market’s aging infrastructure and truck fleets.
“Our neighborhoods will benefit from this renovation as fewer trucks are idling on their streets and the Hunts Point Market continues to lead the regional produce trade,” said Congressman José E. Serrano, who represents the South Bronx in Washington. “The renovated market will support jobs and an improved urban environment.”
Hunts Point residents and environmental advocates argue the Market doesn’t do enough to reduce the harmful impact from the area’s notorious truck traffic, which contribute to the area’s high asthma rates.
But with $3 billion in annual food sales to restaurants and supermarkets around the city and nearly 4,000 jobs at stake, city officials are nervous about the economic fallout if the the Market leaves.
“Improving the rail system at Hunts Point Terminal Market will speed up efficiency, supply more fresh produce to communities and provide long-term economic benefits to the city,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who serves on the Senate Agricultural Committee.
US Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Joseph Crowley also pushed for the grant.