Business / Culture

Shuttered fertilizer plant now huge events venue

New York Expo Center

An estimated 6000 gather for a concert on the Hunts Point waterfront on April 8.

Former NYOFCo site hosted 6000 at weekend concert

Could the sleepy, industrially zoned Hunts Point waterfront be home to New York City’s next big event center? A deep-pocketed developer wants to make that happen, and he has the Bronx Borough president in his corner.

An estimated 6,000 guests piled into the former NYOFCo facility on Oak Point Avenue alongside Barretto Point Park on the waterfront on Saturday, April 8, including Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for a musical concert that featured a number of popular Mexican performers.

Real estate developer Jack Guttman, who owns Chelsea-based events venue The Glasshouses, bought the site last year for $24 million. According to the New York Expo Center’s website, the complex “features 90,000 square feet of entire interior space with a 45,000 sq foot main event space,” and adds that “the New York Expo Center is perfect for a festival with its expansive 10 acres of total land, dual indoor/outdoor stage options, huge waterfront lawn and indoor space that’s longer than a football field.”

The facility was shuttered in 2011 after years of protests from residents stemming from the foul odors it emitted while converting sewage into fertilizer. In 2015 a New Hampshire based company bought the plant announcing that it planned to convert it into an alternative energy provider, but last year opted to resell the plant instead.

The center’s website features photos of the former warehouse packed from front to back with spectators. The logo for the Mexican beer Modelo Especial, one of the sponsors for last Saturday’s event, is illuminated along an entire wall. Another of the website’s photos shows the empty silos, where sludge from the nearby sewage treatment plant was converted into fertilizer pellets for nearly 20 years.

Last year more than 25,000 guests attended four musical events inside the facility. Captain Louis DeCeglie, commanding officer of the 41st Precinct, says no major incidents were reported at last year’s events or at Saturday’s concert.

“From what I’ve seen so far, it’s a little bit of an older crowd,” said DeCeglie of the attendees at recent performances. However, he added, “if they’re going to have big events like that they will have to be very prepared,” with extensive security.

The chairman of Community Board 2, Dr. Ian Amritt, is guardedly optimistic that the project could work for Hunts Point, as long as it serves neighborhood needs.

“I would certainly like to see sustainable jobs added to the district,” said Amritt, who added he is confident that the borough president’s attention to the project will help ensure Hunts Point residents are not forgotten as the venture unfolds. Developers too often bypass the interests of the neighborhood as they steamroll toward their business objectives, Amritt added.

“There’s a big disconnect between developers and community,” he said, adding that in this instance he hopes the developer “will come to the board to discuss how we can be partners.”

Neither Pearl Realty nor The Glasshouses immediately responded to requests for comment.

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