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City and merchants agree on plan for a refurbished market

by Tad Thompson | March 18, 2009
BRONX, NY -- New York City and the merchants of the New York City Hunts Point Terminal Market have agreed on a plan to improve the market.

Based on interviews with market leaders, what follows is a basic description of the market as it stands today and how the market would be improved. The existing market has four rows, labeled A, B, C and D. Each of these docks is about one-fourth of a mile long. Row A is the first dock encountered upon entering the market.

Behind each row is rail siding serving the back doors of the market's warehouses. This rail siding is high upon the list of market inefficiencies. This is because wholesalers like to use over-the-road refrigerated containers for extra warehousing space. These trailers are placed in the front and back of each business. If a company wants to receive a railcar, all the trailers docked at the back of their respective businesses must be moved. Then, of course, when the railcar leaves, all the affected companies must replace the trailers.

Beyond the row D rail tracks are as many as 800 refrigerated vans used to store product. Hunts Point merchants constantly send their personnel to these vans to retrieve product for orders. Steve Katzman, co-president of the New York Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association Inc., said that the commodities can be handled - and the cold chain broken -- up to four times.

"We have food-safety issues, bioterrorism and all kinds of problems a new market would get rid of," he said.

In the new plan, two brand-new mega-rows would be constructed that would have more cold-storage capacity than the existing market and all the storage vans combined. When construction is completed, all Hunts Point companies would move into the new space and rows C and D would be demolished. Rows A and B would be remolded to host related business, such as pre-cut processing facilities, or perhaps to lease space to Hunts Point customers to use for load consolidation.

A new rail shed would be part of the new market because "we need rail for a few operators," Mr. Katzman said.

He added that the market plans to incorporate to the greatest extent possible "green" practices, possibly including solar and wind power. A natural gas line is near the market and may be incorporated into the plans. He said that natural gas put under high pressure produces cold, which is generally a wasted resource. This could be used to help refrigerate a renewed Hunts Point market.

(A full report on the Hunts Point Terminal Market appears in the March 23 issue of The Produce News.)