Dairy distributor wants to move back to south Queens — and create 165 jobs with new development

Rendering of Bartlett Dairy.
Photo provided by NYC Dept. of City Planning.

Bartlett Dairy and Food Service, a 50-year-old minority-owned and family-run manufacturing business, was selected to develop its business on one of the largest city-owned manufacturing zoned properties — the JFK North Site in Springfield Gardens, according to the NYC Department of City Planning.

It is estimated that the dairy distributor will be able to retain and create 165 jobs at the site if all goes well with the development, but there is one major hitch to erecting that business there, according to the City Planning Commission.

The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) wants to have an amendment to eliminate, narrow and realign the part of the Nassau Expressway area bounded by 159th Street and Rockaway Boulevard where the site is in order for the firm to be there.

“Right now it is a vacant site,” said Joe Marvilli, a spokesman for City Planning. “Basically the application is to demap an undeveloped portion of the Nassau Expressway, which is on the site for the development of the Bartlett facility.”

In the 1970s, the site was mapped as a flyover that would have connected the Nassau Expressway directly to John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to Philip Montgomery, a city engineer for City Planning’s Technical Review Division.

The site is 8.75 acres and 6.15 of that is to be given to Jughandle Realty, the real estate firm representing Bartlett Dairy, according to Montgomery in a Dec. 3 presentation review of the site.

“Aside from the airport itself, the major facilities in the area include a 375,000 FAA office building north and west to the site, and a green lines bus garage, which occupies a two-block area across Rockaway Boulevard northeast to the site,” according to Montgomery. “The property is underdeveloped with the exception of a small Con Edison substation located near the center of the site.”

An easement was proposed for Con Edison to continue to use its substation, according to Montgomery.

Bartlett wants to utilize the 6.15 acres for a distribution warehouse and office space that is 47,750 sq. ft. and a foot vehicle maintenance facility that is 6,300 sq. ft., according to the engineer. Approximately 2.6 acres out of the 8.75-acre site will remain in city ownership, but would most likely use for parking added Montgomery.Since 1968, Bartlett was based in Elmhurst but had to leave in 2016 because its lease was not renewed, according to Montgomery. Operations were later transferred to a Manhattan facility.

The dairy distributor also faced some controversy for switching over to nut-based dairy instead of animal-based dairy due to nut allergies, according to City Planning. Bartlett has contracts with the Department of Education and many nut allergies was a major concern.

“This proposal would bring back 165 jobs to Queens,” said Montgomery.

After the Dec. 3 review by City Planning, the amendment to demap the vacant land has to be reviewed by Community District 13, which represents parts of southeast Queens, according to Marvilli.

“They have to give their recommendations on the proposal, from there Borough President Katz would also have to issue her recommendation for the proposal, after that it goes to the City Planning Commission who will hold a public hearing and vote on the proposal,” said Marvilli. “If the City Planning Commission either votes to approve or modify the proposal it will go to City Council, which is the last stop.”

If the proposal to amend the vacant space at Nassau Expressway goes through without any hiccups in the next seven months, construction should be done by 2020, according to Marvilli.

“We are in the very early stages of this,” according to Marvilli.