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Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market

The $500 million Gateway Center at the Bronx Terminal Market – one of the largest private sector investments in borough history – will replace all but one of the original Bronx Terminal Market buildings along with the Bronx House of Detention. With one million square feet of retail space and 2,600 parking spots, the new mall will feature several national “big box” retailers as well as space for restaurants, local businesses, and a possible hotel. The developer is using “green” building materials and practices in the mall's construction, and the City is creating a new two-acre park adjacent to the site on the shores of the Harlem River.

Located just south of Yankee Stadium under the Major Deegan Expressway, the Bronx Terminal Market was built in the 1920s to provide a home for New York’s numerous pushcart vendors and eventually grew to become the nation’s largest wholesale market for Hispanic foods. The 31-acre complex went into steady decline, however, under landlord David Buntzman, who obtained a 99-year lease to the market in 1972. After a series of protracted legal battles with the City, Buntzman sold his interest to the Related Companies (developer of Manhattan’s Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards projects) for $42.5 million in 2004.

While proponents of the project believe Gateway Center will revitalize the South Bronx, bringing jobs and new development to a long-struggling neighborhood, critics argue that the City gave unnecessarily generous subsidies to the project and accused then Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Daniel Doctoroff, of arranging a “sweetheart deal” for his friend—and Related Companies’ chairman—Stephen M. Ross. The City maintains it played no role in private negotiations between Buntzman and Related.

Equally controversial was Related’s eviction of the Market’s 23 remaining food merchants, who waged a two-year - ultimately unsuccessful - fight to prevent their displacement. To quell lingering public opposition, Related negotiated a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with Bronx political leaders in February of 2006 that provided relocation payments for the affected merchants as well as $3 million for a neighborhood job training and placement program. The CBA also included a commitment to include space for local retailers in the Gateway Center and an agreement to hire local Bronx residents.

The City Council approved the plan the day after the CBA was finalized and construction began August 14th, 2006. Home Depot was the first store to open on April 23, 2009 with the grand opening in September 2009. The facility is also about 90% leased out after securing a deal with the department store chain, Conways Stores.

There are mixed reviews in the community on the impact the new development has had and will have on the neighborhood. The Riverdale Press reported in August 2009 that 800 retail positions at Gateway Center had been filled by Bronx residents and up to 2,000 are expected to be hired. Despite follow-through on aspects of the CBA, the agreement has been mired in controversy. During a wrongful termination suit (which has since been withdrawn), a former employee of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC) alleged that hundreds of thousands of dollars of the millions promised in the CBA for job development were misused and directed towards BOEDC salaries instead. The BOEDC insists that the allegations are baseless, however, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (D) has initiated a full investigation.

Last Updated: September 29, 2009