The hub for most of New York City’s food supply is slated for a $150 million, 12-year investment from City Hall in a move designed to boost blue-collar jobs in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
De Blasio broke the news at a Association for a Better New York breakfast Thursday as he again pitched his progressive vision to local business leaders.
The city first established Hunts Point Cooperative Market on the South Bronx peninsula in 1972 with six buildings. The complex continued to grow over the last few decades but vendors have long complained about outdated infrastructure susceptible to future storms as it sits on the banks of the East and Bronx rivers.
The sum, de Blasio announced, is on top of a federal commitment of $45 million for resiliency projects after Superstorm Sandy.
“These are good, decent-paying jobs for New Yorkers at every education level,” he told the crowd. “Our plan protects those jobs and positions the site to create many more jobs for New Yorkers in the future.”
More than 8,000 people work at the 329-acre space that hosts about 115 private wholesalers that generate some $3 billion in yearly sales. No operators, vendors or labor groups involved with the market said they were aware of the commitment before Metro spoke to them.
Metro spoke with individuals involved in day-to-day operations at the market, who said they knew nothing about the mayor’s plan, and wondered who the administration had spoken with.
Neither City Hall nor the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which has overseen much of Hunts Point’s revitalization efforts, responded to Metro’s request for comment.
However, city officials did confirm that the $150 million investment would come from the city’s capital budget for infrastructure development. The plan also calls for businesses in the markets to co-invest in urgent short-term repairs and rail operations along Food Center Drive.
The early overall response to the commitment was positive.
“We look forward to hearing more about today’s announcement, specifically how these funds would impact the market’s infrastructure needs,” said Mike Loughran, a spokesman for Hunts Point’s produce market that originally opened in 1967.
The Hunts Point Cooperative Meat Market opened in 1974, and the New Fulton Fish Market made its way to Hunts Point in 2005 after more than two centuries in lower Manhattan.
While it’s unclear exactly how much money will go to what, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. already has at least one ask. In a statement thanking de Blasio for the commitment, he called for a new freezer facility for perishable foods that currently travel to and from New Jersey.
De Blasio’s financial commitment to the market is the latest in a long series of attempts by City Hall to keep the Hunts Point markets in business.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg poured at least $110 million into the market and another $27 million on local workforce development in the neighborhood home to about 12,000 New Yorkers, half of whom live below the poverty line.