Maryland Wholesale Produce Market officials say the facility remains in solid shape as the operation works to upgrade its buildings.
The market also doesn’t view the recently opened Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market as a threat.
Rose Harrell, market manager of the Jessup, Md.-based produce market and the Maryland Wholesale Seafood Market, said the produce operation’s 23 wholesalers and one seafood company occupy all 101 units.
The market also has a waiting list that has a number of distributors wanting to relocate, she said.
“The market is much more alive than in the last couple of years when the economy took a financial toll on some of the companies,” Harrell said. “Things are looking up.”
Harrell said the market is making improvements that will eventually see enclosing of both buildings’ docks.
To enclose the docks, local codes required upgrading the buildings’ sprinkler and electrical systems. A $1.3 million sprinkler and electrical upgrade to part of building B, one of the market’s two long buildings, was finished last fall.
The market is conducting the electrical and sprinkler upgrades in six phases, covering three sections in each building.
Within a year, contractors plan to begin work to enclose building B’s docks, which has one section housing Coosemans D.C. Inc. and the Tony Vitrano Co.
The dock enclosure project will similarly be broken into phases to cover each building’s three sections, which are separated by breezeways, Harrell said.
The market’s upgrades are scheduled to be completed over five years, she said.
Other improvements include replacing asphalt and replacing sections of the roofs on both buildings with polyurethane roofing.
The polyurethane has worked well on one portion of the market and makes for easier insulation and repairs, Harrell said.
Witnessing the opening of Philadelphia’s 700,000-square-foot refrigerated market, Baltimore market officials aren’t expressing any worry about a potential up the road competitor.
“We don’t fear it will have a major impact on our market and that we will lose business to that market,” Harrell said.
“It’s regional. People will continue coming to our market. We have strong tenants in our market who have really good business and customer relationships.
“Though we originally thought it (Philadelphia) might be a concern, we don’t think so anymore. Our market is at 100% capacity and we have a waiting list for companies that want to be here, which is good for us.”
When one wholesaler retired last year, Harrell said two others moved into the wholesaler’s units. She said the market is in negotiations with another produce company wanting to locate in the facility.
Tony Vitrano, Vitrano’s president, said the market has done a good job keeping the infrastructure updated.
“We are dealing with a group of 35-year-old–plus buildings,” he said.
“They have a limited life. They’re doing their best to keep them up to the 21st century requirements.”
Vitrano said the market remains ideally situated between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., along Interstate 95.
He said that’s why some wholesalers who’ve moved out of the market were reluctant to relocate to other areas, and chose to work within a mile or so of the market, which he said has logistical advantages.
One of the market’s buildings opened in 1972 with 27 more units added in 1974. The market has a capacity of 330,000 square feet.