Southeast Queens economic development had a huge boost on Thursday, Aug. 12, when city and state officials joined community leaders to break ground on a new headquarters and distribution site for Bartlett Dairy Inc. and its affiliates.
The minority-owned, family-run local business will develop a 54,000-square-foot dairy distribution center on a significant portion of the JFK North Site, one of the largest city-owned manufacturing-zoned properties.
“We are excited to be returning home to Jamaica. When my father started this company more than 50 years ago, Bartlett Dairy was a small one man, one truck operation,” Bartlett Dairy Inc. President Thomas Malave Jr. said. “Over the years, my brothers and I have worked tirelessly to build upon the opportunity our father provided. It has been astonishing to see the growth that we have been able to achieve. We would not be where we are today, breaking ground on our new headquarters, without the dedication of all of our wonderful employees and the support of the city of New York.”
Their new distribution center will allow them to bring approximately 165 jobs with average wages of $70,000 back to Queens from New Jersey by activating a previously unused and overgrown site wedged between the Nassau Expressway and 161-02 Rockaway Blvd.
“Queens is not just leading the way out of the pandemic. It’s leading the way toward a future where good-paying jobs right here in the borough sustain entire communities. That’s the future Queens’ own Bartlett Dairy is helping build in its hometown, starting with today’s groundbreaking,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome back upwards of 165 good-paying jobs to Queens, and we look forward to working closely with Bartlett Dairy to create even more economic opportunities for local families and for southeast Queens as a whole.”
Bartlett Dairy, which was originally based in Queens, will become the only milk distribution facility in the city since Elmhurst Dairy shuttered in Jamaica, costing the area nearly 300 jobs.
Bartlett Dairy started in 1963 with one truck, delivering glass milk bottles to Queens homes. Since its incorporation in 1990, it has grown into an enterprise with 100 tractor-trailers and straight trucks, delivering a wide variety of products to schools, hotels, grocery stores and restaurants in the tri-state area.
“Today’s groundbreaking is a true testament to New York City’s continued economic recovery,” New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Rachel Loeb said. “Bartlett’s new headquarters and dairy and food distribution center will bring quality jobs to New Yorkers, while strengthening the city’s food economy. We are proud to have worked with Bartlett Dairy and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards to make this happen. We want businesses to know they can grow and succeed in NYC, and Bartlett is a great example.”
The project is expected to create more than 100 union construction jobs.
“Bartlett Dairy’s groundbreaking is an excellent example of the success we can achieve when we empower M/WBEs and invest in economic opportunity for communities,” Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers said. “As we work to repair the damage to our local economy inflicted by the pandemic, Bartlett’s new headquarters is an important step. Together with our community partners, elected officials, and NYCEDC, we are bringing valuable jobs to southeast Queens.”
Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson said the project will provide much-needed economic relief.
“As our communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, jobs like these provide economic stability, enhance the quality of life, and inspire a sense of hope for renewed economic opportunity for families disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in Queens and throughout New York City,” Anderson said. “I applaud the NYCEDC, Bartlett Dairy, my colleagues in elected office and local community leaders for their efforts in making today possible.”
State Senator James Sanders pointed out that Bartlett’s new home was a site “that was crying out for a project for many years” and that he was grateful to those who had a vision for the site.
However, he also stressed that, in the future, sound economic development needed to go further and involve the community.
“We need to make sure that the local businesses can sell everything from shovels to gravel and even air conditioning to anything we need,” Sanders said. “We need to find a way to work with the community on these things.”
Community Board 13 District Manager Mark McMillan said his members have been excited about the new facility since it was first proposed in 2015.
“This development checks all of the boxes of what is wanted and needed in our communities: New York-based, minority-owned, family-run, creating 165 jobs with good salaries. Underdeveloped areas — outside residential areas — are finally being utilized for the benefit of the community,” McMillan said. “This is important to keep our young people around and to make the neighborhoods nearby more attractive to those who end up working for Bartlett. A win-win scenario by lifting up and enriching Springfield Gardens and its neighboring communities.”