During the summer, Jeff Haas, president of truck brokerage Henry Haas Inc., New York, and Joe Palumbo, chief executive officer of New York-based Top Banana LLC, and were elected as the market’s co-chairmen.
The two succeed former co-chairmen Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., and Steve Katzman, owner of Katzman Berry Corp. and S. Katzman Produce Inc.
In late December, the market and the New York City Economic Development Corp. signed a lease agreement that extends the lease for seven years.
The lease is open-ended and the market continues to look at all of its options, which could include a new facility in its Bronx borough home or in neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut, he said.
“We are still working to build a new market, here or someplace else,” Palumbo said. “The vision is to get this market rebuilt. We will get it done. It’s just a matter of time.”
If the two sides strike an agreement, a new facility would require several years to construct and entail a five- to seven-year process, Palumbo said.
As part of the extension, the city agreed to provide $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements involving lighting, paving of roads and dock repairs or special projects, Palumbo said.
Palumbo said the city understands the market’s role in supplying the metropolitan area’s numerous restaurants, green grocers, bodegas and other retailers as well as other wholesalers.
The facility directly employs 3,000 people and, indirectly, up to 10,000 in the Bronx, which suffers the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate, Palumbo said.
“The market is very important to the New York area,” he said. “It helps feed 20 million people within a 20-mile radius, so we are an economic engine that’s valuable and vital to the surrounding area.”
The market’s buildings are 48 years old, and the heavily used facilities have long served — and continue to serve — their purpose, Palumbo said.
Palumbo’s Top Banana distributes a full line of tropicals to retailers and foodservice purveyors throughout the Northeast, including Boston, with occasional runs to Chicago.
Longtime market board members, Palumbo and Haas were on the market’s executive board for 12 years.
D’Arrigo, who was co-chairman for 13 years, remains on the market’s board as first vice chairman.
He characterized the city-led market lease negotiation as fair.
“The city seemed sincere in wanting to put it to bed before Mayor Bloomberg’s term was finished,” D’Arrigo said. “It was a loose end they wanted to tie-up. It has nothing to do with a new market, and now we know what we will pay for the term of the lease.”