Wholesalers happy with terminal markets

03/22/2012 11:30:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Anyone who’s driven to the two neighboring Boston-area produce terminal markets — the Chelsea, Mass.-based New England Produce Center and the Everett, Mass.-based Boston Market Terminal — knows that dodging the potholes en route can feel like running a slalom course.

One wholesaler jokes that after a smooth ride across the country, trucks feel like they’ve entered a minefield just as they’re mere blocks from their destination.

Despite the rocky roads into and out of the markets, wholesalers say they’re more than happy with the markets themselves.

Chicago, and, more recently, Philadelphia, have built gleaming new terminal markets in the past decade, but Boston-area wholesalers are content with what they have.

“We’re pretty happy with the physical structure of the two markets,” said Steven Piazza, president and treasurer of Everett-based Community-Suffolk Inc., a longtime tenant of the Boston Market Terminal.

One of the keys to that happiness, Piazza said, is the opportunity for future growth.

“We have acreage around here, so we’re not land-locked,” he said.

That said, the markets aren’t currently in a growth mode, another reason there’s no push among wholesale tenants to move, Piazza said.

“We’re barely at capacity, and we’re happy to be there,” he said.

Yanni Alphas, president and chief executive officer of Chelsea-based The Alphas Co., agreed with Piazza that the Boston wholesale produce market is currently not in need of a brand spanking new terminal market.

At least not on its own dime.

“If the government wants to give us the money for free — but I think those days are over,” he said.

“Our market is pretty good. I don’t think we need a new one.”

As for those infamous roads surrounding the market, Alphas said congressman after congressman and mayor after mayor has promised to fix them, to no avail.

“I’ve been here 25 years, and it’s been 25 years of awful potholes,” he said.

In the congressmen and mayors’ defense, however, there’s little to be done about them, Alphas said.

“There’s an oil facility next door to us, and the tankers that come in are very heavy, and they tear up the roads,” he said.

To really fix the roads, they’d have to be torn up and rebuilt from scratch, Alphas said.

But that would take a month, he estimates — far too long, given the huge volume of traffic that comes in and out of the area.


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