The newest produce terminal market in the U.S. is going up in San Antonio and should be open for business in March or April, planners say.
“I’m interested to see how this plays out,” said Victor Thomas Myers, vice president of McAllen, Texas-based Sunny Produce and Brokerage LLC.
Myers said the new 180-warehouse facility, going up on 80 acres on the southern edge of town, will be a boon to produce sales.
“I think it’s going to really boost up San Antonio food consumption and distribution, and they are already some pretty big players there,” Myers said.
McAllen-based Abasto Properties LLC is building the terminal market. It built and currently operates three terminal markets in the Mexican cities of Cancun, Monterrey and Reynosa and the terminal market in McAllen. Abasto is constructing the San Antonio market in phases, with the first 60 3,100-square-foot warehouses opening in March, said Carlos Zambito, general manager of the McAllen Produce Terminal Market.
“It’s coming along nice,” Zambito said of the San Antonio project.
The walls have gone up, and most of the roof was in place in the first phase by early November, Zambito said.
The market is looking to service a growing population area between Laredo and Houston, but it will have a particularly local focus, Zambito said.
“Basically, we see potential for distribution in the San Antonio area, which has quite a large population and a large tourist population also,” he said. “You follow (highways) 35 or 37 north toward Austin, there are cities along the way that have nothing, so this is a pretty good opportunity for people to start distributing. San Antonio gets supplies from Houston, and Houston gets supplies from us. That should ease the situation and give people there fresher and cheaper produce.”
Planners are looking to sign up tenants.
“We’re hoping to get newcomers,” Zambito said. “Most of the warehouses we’re selling as we speak are pre-sold, so we’re coming along pretty good.”
A manager has not yet been hired, although it likely will be Abasto’s Elio Botello, who is directing construction of the project, Zambito said.
The new facility is going up without benefit of tax incentives from the city of San Antonio, Zambito said.
“Most cities give you incentives if you build a project of this type that’s going to bring hundreds of jobs to the area,” he said. “We never asked for any incentives. We basically wanted them to be a little more lenient with all the requirements with the vans and traffic (going to and from the market).”
Zambito said the new San Antonio market will not compete with his own expanding market in McAllen.
“It would be different because people come through here and try to go through to the East Coast,” he said. “San Antonio is different — their focus will be more on distributing to the local community.”
It should do well, said Bret Erickson, president and CEO of the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.
“I suppose that remains to be seen, but you look at the growth of the San Antonio-San Marcos-Austin area, and it’s just explosive population growth, so I think a produce terminal concept would serve that growing population very well,” he said.