UPDATED: Hunts Point says no deal reached to stay in N.Y.
Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market today called a news report wrong that said a tentative deal had been reached for the market to stay in New York City, rather than move to New Jersey.
“At our board meeting on Tuesday, January 8th, our board voted to reject an offer from the City of New York to modify the current lease extension terms at our location in the Bronx. A Crains.com story from Tuesday afternoon has incorrectly indicated that the co-op has reached a ‘tentative’ agreement with the city in regards to this offer to modify our lease extension terms. This is not true," Robert Leonard, a spokesman for the market, wrote in an email to NJBIZ this afternoon.
New Jersey officials also seemed baffled by the news report. "Our understanding is that Hunts Point's board did not accept New York's proposal, which means their location decision is still unsettled and New Jersey is still in the game," said Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno through a spokesman. "I look forward to continuing to work together with Hunts Point to persuade them New Jersey is a great alternative to their cramped and outdated facilities in the Bronx."
Crain's New York Business reported Tuesday that the co-op and the city had reached a tentative deal to keep the market in the Bronx for at least a decade. The story quoted a co-op representative, who apparently spoke before the board meeting, plus unnamed sources. The market's board of directors still had to vote on the agreement at a formal meeting, the report said.
When asked if the co-op is still considering New Jersey, Leonard said in a phone call, “The Hunts Point market continues to look at all options that can best help us continue to serve the region with fresh produce.”
Leonard said the window of exclusivity with the city has lapsed, but couldn’t say whether there are any active negotiations with New Jersey officials.
The co-op’s current lease with the city expires in about two years, but the contract already has options for extensions, Leonard said. But the city on Tuesday approached the association with a new extension proposal, which was rejected by its board within hours.
“We’re within our current lease, so it isn’t like we have an imminent expiration,” Leonard said. “There are options for extensions.”
For two years, Guadagno and state officials have been courting the association, which accounts for several thousand jobs among its members.
A Meadowlands source called this "one of those cases where the market was playing (New Jersey) against (New York) to negotiate the best deal."
"When they were actually talking with (New Jersey) officials early in the process, I believe they were truly open to relocating here," the source said in an e-mail. But the person pointed to a subsequent deal giving the city a window of exclusive negotiations with the market, during which New York "put its best foot forward with an offer."
The question of whether Hunts Point would come to New Jersey has persisted for years. In 2011, a co-op board member told NJBIZ the group was considering four different sites in New Jersey, and sources indicated that the Meadowlands and Newark were in the running.
But Hunts Point has since held lengthy negotiations with the New York City's Economic Development Corp., while extending the window for exclusivity several times last year. A key factor throughout has been whether the co-op will contribute to a $320 million plan to redevelop the market's current site.