The Willets Point location, near several major highways, helped House of Spices grow into the country's largest manufacturer and distributor of Indian and Pakistani foods.
But now, 19 years later, the city is threatening to uproot House of Spices and roughly 260 other Willets Point businesses so the area can be redeveloped into a glitzy realm of residences, stores and a hotel.
Bitter aftertaste for Willets Point spice business from redevelopment
"It's just very ironic," Soni said, noting that the financial package the city offered House of Spices in 1989 required the company to grow its workforce.
"We successfully did that," he said, explaining that the company added 70 jobs.
Mayor Bloomberg's controversial plan to redevelop the 62-acre industrial zone - possibly using eminent domain - is the latest example of policies promoting residential and commercial uses at the expense of industrial uses.
Soni said the city's grand plan for Willets Point has jeopardized House of Spices' future in New York - and caused him to shelve $1 million in capital improvements to his operation.
"It sends the wrong signal to nonFortune 500 companies," he said, noting that morale is declining among his workers - and many have started looking for other jobs. "I don't see them supporting manufacturing in any way."
Soni said he wants to stay in the city. But while the city keeps him in limbo, he is looking at land in New Jersey, where manufacturing space costs between $6 and $8 per square foot, compared with between $20 to $25 per square foot in the five boroughs.