Business / Environment

Cement terminal opens on East River waterfront

Courtesy of McInnis Cement Terminal

Barges will make two monthly deliveries of cement from Quebec to a new terminal in Hunts Point.

Company will hire veterans from the Bronx to help staff new facility

After two years of construction, the new McInnis Cement Terminal celebrated its opening with a ceremony and tree planting on Wednesday. 

The terminal is the first new industrial port on the South Bronx waterfront in more than 50 years. The grounds feature a 100,000-square-foot, 24-hour operational terminal as well as a quarter-mile public access greenway that stretches between the facility and the wetlands along the East River waterfront. Siting the new plant on the waterfront allows McInnis to deliver cement by barge from its northern Quebec facility to the warehouse, which can store up to 44,000 metric tons of cement—the equivalent of 1,500 truckloads.

The Oak Point Avenue parcel was once slated to be the site of a power plant, until the estate owning the land entered bankruptcy. Seven years later, Steven Smith, the owner of Oak Point Properties which now leases the land to McInnis, took it over with plans to completely transform it, taking environmental concerns into account. Extensive remediation of the site was done in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Twelve Acres were sold to Jetro Restaurant Depot for its flagship facility on the adjacent parcel, and then McInnis came along. The company was looking for a port and that is what peaked Steven Smith’s curiosity.  

“That was one of my longstanding objectives, to return this site back into the marine port it used to be,” said Smith. 

McInnis and Smith had to win over some hearts and minds to complete the project. Members of Community Board 2 were insistent on only allowing developers who were aware of the area’s decades-old environmental concerns to use the land. The Bronx has the city’s highest concentration of PM2.5, a harmful air pollutant. Much of that is due to extensive truck traffic in and around Hunts Point and Port Morris’ industrial waterfronts.

Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who chairs the City Council’s Land Use Committee, and Robert Crespo, Board 2’s chairman, initially voiced fears that building a terminal on the waterfront would lead to more truck traffic, worsening Hunts Point’s air quality problem.

“I just didn’t believe them at first,” said Salamanca with a laugh. “But they wowed [the community board]. What was most impressive was their promise.” 

That promise is for a 35 percent reduction in emissions from cement delivery in the city, that McInnis officials say will result from replacing trucks with barges. All delivery vehicles will begin their pickup routes at the local site. Those trucks will then be filled with approximately 200 pounds of cement per second, with a total fill up time estimated to take about five minutes. Trucks will then take delivery routes that restrict them from driving through residential neighborhoods. 

McInnis says that this way they will be able to eliminate as much as 25,000 one-way truck trips across the region, an estimated 2 million truck miles.

Crespo noted that the elimination of truck traffic and public access to the waterway are “Two big things we had been crying for.” 

The chairman of Board 2’s Veteran’s Committee, Dondi Mckellar, 56, was in awe of the view of the river the new greenway provides.

“This was the reveal of a hidden gem that I’m glad Hunts Point residents will get to experience,” said Mckellar. 

McInnis has said that it plans to hire 14 staffers in all, including at least 10 Bronxites and four veterans, whose salaries will range between $50,000-80,000 a year. 

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply