NYC’s Urban Rooftop Farming Boom to Continue With World’s Largest in The Bronx

In part due to Zone Green, the world’s largest rooftop farm could be coming soon to one of New York City’s biggest food distribution centers in the Hunts Point section of The Bronx.

Bronx Food Distribution Center - Rooftop Farm

Rendering of farm on roof of Food Distribution Center in Hunts Point (image by AN).

Thanks in part to Zone Green, the world’s largest rooftop farm could soon grace the top of one of New York City’s largest food distribution centers. Yesterday, the City’s Economic Development Corporation released an RFP for a 200,000-square-foot rooftop farm at 600 Food Center Drive in the Hunts Point section of The Bronx. Once harvested, the farm’s bounty would be distributed from the City’s 329-acre Food Distribution Center at 600 Food Center Drive – one of New York City’s largest. Built in 1969, the facility is currently occupied by Sultana Distribution and Citarella.

“With the potential construction of a new rooftop farm, the Hunts Point industrial area will be able to better provide greater quantities of produce to consumers while generating new employment opportunities for New Yorkers,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement. EDC will accept proposals for the project until July 9 and expects construction to begin this fall.

Rooftop farms are in the midst of a boom here in New York City: plans for a 100,000-square-foot rooftop greenhouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn are moving ahead, where a hydroponic greenhouse will use rainwater to grow crops atop 2 Federal Plaza, which is a former Navy warehouse. When announced in March, the project was touted as the largest rooftop farm in the United States. But the Bronx rooftop could accommodate a farm twice as large. And Brooklyn Grange continues to pursue its expansion into Brooklyn from the historic Standard Motors Building in Long Island City.

Driving that boom – at least in part – is New York City’s Zone Green. Proposed amendments to Gotham’s zoning code that continue an inexorable march through the approval process, Zone Green would permit solar panels, green roofs, storm water systems, skylights and other green features on New York City buildings, despite existing restrictions within the 1961 code. Specifically with respect to rooftop farms, Zone Green would allow a waiver of floor area and height limits for greenhouses on top of non-residential buildings.

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