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New York’s Hunts Point

Making changes at the half-century mark
New York Spotlight_MS

The largest terminal market in the United States is marking 50 years in the international produce industry. Hunts Point’s vast premises is also abuzz with renovations—as merchants move forward with expansion plans and prep for the latest FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) implementations.

This year, 2017, the wholesale mecca celebrates its golden anniversary. And even though its tenants have been locked in rebuild discussions for a decade of its storied existence—the Big Apple’s wholesale hub shows no signs of slowing down.

Red Light, Green Light
Though its official name is the New York City Terminal Produce Market, Hunts Point sits on about 60 acres inside the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center and moves more than 3 billion pounds of produce each year.

For years now, efforts to find a solution to rebuild—or move—have plagued the outdated facility and its merchants. Efforts have been stalled by costs, politics, and lack of consensus.

Over the past few years some modifications, including renovating the rail area, have been initiated, but a full rebuild is still a thing of the imagination. Recently, a long-standing plan to build an off-ramp from the highway to the market got the green light, and should be completed within the next five years.

“To get a truck here, you have to get off the highway and travel several miles through local, residential streets,” explains Paul Kazan, president of Target Interstate Systems, Inc., headquartered in New York. “In addition to the delays and traffic, there are a lot of concerns about exhaust and health issues from the trucks.”

On the slate since 2000, the off-ramp project will finally be underway. It will also allow the City to reclaim other areas to build parks and recreation areas, so it will be a win-win for the market and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Upgrading Units
Despite a stalled rebuild and limited upgrades to the market itself, vendors continue to invest in their units.

“In the meantime, people are starting to put money into their stalls to take control of their own progress rather than wait for a rebuild,” comments James Margiotta, Hunts Point board member and managing member at J Margiotta Company, LLC. “But the market is outdated; I hope something, somehow gets done to help the market come into modern times.”

Charlie DiMaggio, managing member at Fres Co, LLC, who arrived on the market six years ago by remodeling an old stall, is doing the same again and expanding his product line with new units on Row A. The added space will help display more California vegetables and citrus, and provide better flow for inventory.