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Big Apple Bustle

Picks, packs, and perks of the Hunts Point terminal market
Big Apple

The facility was built in 1967, and aging infrastructure may be causing more than cold chain problems. Last November, two separate fires occurred, one in which 12 firefighters suffered smoke inhalation injuries. “The fires were rather unexplainable,” observed D’Arrigo. “We have a 50-year history of no fires and then two in one month. From what I know, they were accidental.”

“There’s talk, but since the lease extension, I don’t think any plans have been made,” says DiMaggio. “However, you are seeing merchants renovating their stalls; I gutted and renovated my place when I moved in. It’s a tough decision with a pending rebuild or move, but right now it doesn’t seem like we’re leaning one way or the other.”

Laurie Gregori, sales manager at Kent, NY-based Lynn-Ette & Sons, Inc., a grower-shipper of apples, cabbage, pumpkins, and squash, had this to say: “In terms of farmers and freight rates, I don’t think moving to New Jersey would make much difference. And truckers might prefer to go to New Jersey versus dealing with driving into the Bronx.”

“The Bronx is centrally located for doing business in Long Island and New Jersey,” said A&J Produce’s Tramutola. “It seems like a risky move to relocate and leave behind all these jobs, revenue, and taxes. And, not too many businesses are suited to move into an industrial area like this. But something needs to give; we need to get some traction. I would like to stay,” he added.

D’Arrigo, who is also vice president of the market, pointed out, “Right now, everything is pretty quiet. There’s a new mayor finding his pace, and when the time is right, we’ll sit down with the City and resume our talks about the options. Rebuilding or relocating is something that will have to be addressed over the next year or so. You really don’t have seven years, you have three, because it will take four to get anything done.” Bottom line, D’Arrigo says, “Many of us would like to stay here.”

In the meantime, market improvements continue to be made, not only to individual stalls but the general infrastructure as well. Morris Okun’s Cignarella said repairs to the rail track behind his stall began in the summer. Intermodal and rail transport are a critical piece of the market’s delivery system, bringing the “hardware” durables like potatoes and onions, into the market daily.

Looking forward, what will be different for you or your company in 2015?

Thomas Tramutola, Jr.
A&J Produce Corp.
In 2015, we’re looking at traceability becoming more important, and the trend continuing in the years ahead. The produce industry, overall, needs to adapt to this trend.