South Bronx developer Steven Smith has taken a bankrupt 28-acre illegal garbage dump and transformed it into a fresh food distribution hub with the potential to bring hundreds of jobs to the area, according to the New York Daily News.
The once empty site in Hunts Point, dubbed Oak Point Property, stretches between the Oak Point railroad yard and the East River. Ten years ago ABB planned a power plant for the parcel, but the project was abandoned and Oak Point Property was forced into bankruptcy, having amassed approximately $60 million in claims. Smith was an engineer with ABB at the time and decided to leave his job, cash out his retirement savings and become a trustee of the property.
Smith pulled the site out of bankruptcy, dissuaded the city from turning it into a jail and saw it through a $6 million environmental clean-up. Eventually he transformed it into a site for use by some of the many food distributors that have headed to the Bronx. In 2010 he sold 12 acres to the food wholesaler Jetro for $25 million. On the remaining land Smith plans an $85 million 300,000-square-foot, three-story distribution center with a rooftop greenhouse that he hopes to open next year. “It was forever going to be a dumping site,” said Smith. “We turned it into a viable piece of property.”
For Smith’s efforts, the city plans to name Oak Point the Bronx Small Business of the Year tomorrow. [NYDN]