Foodies present obstacle to city’s Hunts Point market lease negotiation

April 25, 2012 01:30PM

The local food movement is styming the city’s best effort to keep the Hunts Point wholesale produce market, and it’s 3,000 jobs, in the South Bronx and away from the Garden State, according to the New York Times. The city has been negotiating with the cooperative that owns the 45-year-old market in hopes of reaching an agreement by June 29, at which point New Jersey would reopen talks with the market.

But New York food advocates are pressing the city to include space for mid-size New York-based farms  — typically less than 300 acres on Long Island and the Hudson Valley — that are too large to profit from the small green markets that pop-up in parks and streets. The Times said just 4 percent of the $2.3 billion worth of food sold each year at Hunts Point comes from the state.

GrowNYC has proposed a $12 million center in or near Hunts Point that includes indoor space space with refrigeration and a storage room, so that the mid-size local farmers can sell directly to wholesale customers. The hub would also benefit the many restaurateurs that leverage the local food movement, serving as a one-stop shop for their produce needs.

But the cooperative, which currently pays $4.5 million rent annually for its 105 acres, is concerned with the competition presented by those farms, which typically carry less burdensome labor contracts. It might look across the Hudson River if it can’t remain competitive in the South Bronx.

As a result, despite the pressure, city officials told the Times their chief concern is securing the long-term lease with the existing cooperative and funding part of a $350 million renovation to the market. [NYT]