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Proposed Hunts Point Rooftop Farm Could Be World's Largest

By Patrick Wall | June 12, 2012 1:51pm
The proposed rooftop farm in Hunts Point's food distribution area could fill a nearly 10-acre, 200,000-square-foot space.
The proposed rooftop farm in Hunts Point's food distribution area could fill a nearly 10-acre, 200,000-square-foot space.
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NYC Economic Development Corporation

HUNTS POINT — Only green thumbs with deep pockets need apply.

Private developers are being sought by the city to build a farm atop the 200,000-square-foot roof of a warehouse in the neighborhood's sprawling food distribution zone, creating the potential for one of the largest rooftop farms in the world.

"I welcome the development of a rooftop farm in Hunts Point with open arms," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., whose office has financed 13 green roofs in The Bronx. "This new proposal will not only create much-needed jobs, but will also provide fresh produce for countless Bronxites."

In March, BrightFarms, Inc. unveiled plans to build a hydroponic greenhouse atop a former Navy warehouse in Brooklyn's Sunset Park. The private company said its farm, occupying up to 100,000 square-feet, would be the largest in the US and possibly the world.

The city's Economic Development Corporation has put out a request for proposals for the Hunt's Point rooftop farm, which could cover almost 10-acres of rooftop, twice the size of the proposed Sunset Park farm.

Two food distributors, Sultana Distribution and Citarella, currently occupy the warehouse in Hunts Point, located at 600 Food Center Drive.

Situated at the southeastern edge of the peninsula, along the bank of the East River, the building rests inside a 329-acre food distribution corridor that includes the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the Cooperative Meat Market and the New Fulton Fish Market. The markets' 115 private wholesalers serve more than 23 million customers that reside in the region and together they generate $3 billion in annual sales, according to the city.

Other food and drink distributors, such as Anheuser-Busch, also operate in the area.

The year-round rooftop farm could easily plug into the zone's network of regional distributors, EDC president Seth Pinsky said Tuesday.

“With the opportunity to build one of the world’s largest rooftop farms," Pinsky said, "we will create important new opportunities to connect producers and distributors, greatly enhancing the existing food network and generating new jobs for Bronx residents.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also expressed support for the plan, which she called an "innovative urban agricultural model." 

With additional reporting by Jill Colvin.