Category Archives: Media Coverage

Upcoming: FreshDirect Returns to CB1 Wednesday, July 10

When: Wednesday, July 10, 5:30 pm
Where: Community Board 1 Office – 3024 3rd Avenue, Bronx

We need everyone to come out to the CB1 office this Wednesday, July 10, at 5:30 pm, to show FreshDirect that the community REJECTS their request for a land use plan modification to build a 500,000+ square foot warehouse/parking lot on our waterfront that will bring 1,000 more diesel trucks every day through our asthma-saturated community. Wear your “STOP FRESHDIRECT” T-shirt, or email us if you didn’t get one last time.

Background:
(1) http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130701/mott-haven/chaotic-community-board-meeting-ends-without-decision-on-freshdirect-plan
(2) http://www.welcome2thebronx.com/wordpress/2013/06/28/freshdirect-visits-community-board-1-16-months-announcing-intentions-to-move-to-the-bronx/

* * *

The community board is being reassembled this Wednesday to address and provide comments to the City Planning Commission on the narrow issue of whether FreshDirect should be allowed to have a land use modification in light of a restrictive covenant placed on the land they propose to occupy. City approval of FreshDirect’s proposed land use modification depends upon a finding that the proposed changes will:

(1) Not cause“overutilization of adjacent street systems”;
FreshDirect violates this requirement. Fresh Direct will cause overuse of already congested local roads and bridges: Despite their self-serving traffic analysis that treated their large diesel trucks as if they were cars, considerable concerns persist as to the impact Fresh Direct’s 2,000 daily truck and vehicle trips will have on local traffic and traffic inside the Yard (not to mention the air pollution).

(2) Not result in excess bulk and density on any portion of the Yard;
FreshDirect violates this requirement. Fresh Direct will result in excess bulk and density: Fresh Direct would occupy twice the acreage (13 acres) and building square footage (a 500,547 s/f warehouse) of the originally designated Wholesale Flower Market (5-7 acres). To make matters worse, the Yard is in a flood zone. With the certainty that additional and more extreme flooding will occur at increasing rates, such development (including its underground parking and refueling station) is ill-advised and dangerous.

(3) Not conflict with the project objectives of reducing local and regional truck traffic by importing goods into the City via rail while providing economic development benefits to the South Bronx and the City.  FreshDirect violates this requirement. Fresh Direct conflicts with the public objectives established for the Yard. Since it prevents operation of the intermodal terminal, will intensify congestion on local roads, and fails to offer living-wage jobs, Fresh Direct fundamentally conflicts with the City’s and State’s public objectives for this state-owned land.

(4) Not materially interfere with the operation of the intermodal terminal;  FreshDirect violates this requirement. Unlike the originally-planned Wholesale Flower Market, Fresh Direct plans to locate a truck parking lot entirely within the 28 acres reserved and zoned solely for the intermodal terminal. Fresh Direct’s traffic, including its need to access the Yard through Alexander Ave., would prevent the operation of the intermodal terminal.

Research the reasons for opposition to Fresh Direct.

The recent article in the NY Times has driven up the traffic to our site in the thousands today.  The issue for us is about Environmental Justice in the South Bronx and not about individuals. We encourage you to review in depth the extensive information on this website, much of it was not shared with the community and only obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Start with our blog posts below this.  We welcome everyone to join our campaign platform. Thank you.

Re-envisioning Our Waterfront: No More Dumping on the South Bronx

FreshDirect Dumps Fleet of Damaged Trucks on South Bronx Waterfront

 

On Saturday, November 10, 2012, FreshDirect discarded its fleet of trucks destroyed in superstorm Sandy on the South Bronx waterfront. Upwards of 65 diesel trucks were disposed of by the company in a neighborhood itself reeling from the damage of the storm, where calls from South Bronx residents to DEP for an investigation of toxicity from storm surges in the area went unanswered.
“FreshDirect has no respect for our community,” stated Monxo Lopez, Mott Haven resident and member of South Bronx Unite. “Last weekend, our community gathered aid for victims of Sandy, and two days ago, we attended a fundraiser for a local business that was flooded. Why would FreshDirect dump 780,000 pounds of their garbage on our waterfront when we, too, are trying to recover from the storm? added Mychal Johnson, resident and Community Board 1 member.

FreshDirect offloaded its destroyed vehicles on the South Bronx waterfront over strong objections from environmental lawyers for the community suing the company for a full environmental impact statement of the effects of the proposed project which would add upwards of 1,000 daily truck trips through a neighborhood where asthma rates are already eight times the national average.
Stop dumping on the South Bronx! If FreshDirect had installed a range of vehicle trackers maybe they’d be a little more careful where they disposed of their damaged trucks!

Riverdale Press – It is your fault

Riverdale Press – It is your fault

It is your fault

Editorial Comment – Posted 9/19/12
 
Feb. 13 — That’s the
date the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. made an agreement with
FreshDirect to provide more than $130 million in subsidies for its warehouse in
the Bronx. April 30 — that’s the date the City Council approved living wage
legislation that would require companies like FreshDirect receiving large city
subsidies to pay $10 an hour with benefits, $11.50 without. 
On Monday, Mr. Diaz had the nerve to appear on BronxTalk with
Gary Axelbank
 and dodge responsibility for FreshDirect’s hard-labor jobs
that pay $8.75 an hour — less than a living wage and not much more than the
minimum wage.
Mr. Axelbank read a job description  — from an ad endorsed by the
Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, which has been handing out
flyers for FreshDirect at job fairs with your tax dollars — for work in a
freezer, with mandatory overtime and 12-hour shifts. 
When he confronted Mr. Diaz for supporting the poorly paid
positions, the champion of the living wage whined. 
“[It’s] not my fault,” Mr. Diaz said. 
Mr. Diaz, the man who rightfully scuttled a Related Companies
mall deal for the Kingsbridge Armory because it would not guarantee living
wages, somehow tried to escape responsibility for the poverty jobs he helped
create at FreshDirect in the South Bronx. 
The borough president can take credit for his tough
stance on the Armory, which eventually lead to the passage of living wage
legislation in the City Council, though the final bill was watered down. 
But he made sure to get the FreshDirect
deal signed before the bill was passed and then blamed the City Council for not
moving fast enough. 
Nice try. 
Now he can also take credit for poverty jobs at FreshDirect.
You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Diaz. And it is your
fault.

Lawsuit in the News

  

Bronx Residents Protest $130M Subsidies For Online
Grocer

Law360, New York (September 07, 2012, 4:06 PM ET) — A group
of South Bronx residents on Thursday challenged the legality of some of the
nearly $130 million in subsidies made to online grocer FreshDirect LLC for its
planned 500,000-square-foot shipping facility, as well as the constitutionality
of its sublease at the site.

In an amended complaint filed in New York
state court, two community groups known as Friends of Brook Park and South Bronx
Unite and a group of individual residents allege that the city and Empire State
Development Corp. overstepped their authority in approving.

See the entire article here:
Aerial view of the Harlem River Yard in the Bronx.
Harlem River Yards

FreshDirect Critics Continue From the Bronx

 

NY Times article about

FreshDirect Critics Continue From the Bronx

 

By 

 

Published: May 23, 2012

“They would serve the Bronx better by not coming in,” said Kelly Moltzen, a Mott Haven resident who is also a nutrition coordinator for Bronx Health REACH, a community program working to reduce obesity and diabetes. “There are a lot of other ways to get healthy food to people without giving a subsidy to a private company that is not part of the neighborhood.”

 

When FreshDirect received a $128 million package of cash and tax breaks in February to move to the Bronx, residents of the borough, the city’s poorest, protested loudly about a peculiar indignity: the online grocer did not deliver to most of their neighborhoods.

Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Vendors, like this one on Fordham Road, and supermarkets sell produce in the Bronx, but options have not always been plentiful.
This week, after months of criticism, FreshDirect expanded its service to include every corner of the Bronx.
Though the move was hailed by city leaders, the effort has drawn mixed reactions from residents, who say they cannot afford FreshDirect prices on their small incomes, and from community advocates, who say that any benefit will be outweighed by more truck traffic and exhaust fumes and a loss of waterfront access and green space at the company’s new site in the Harlem River Yard.
“They would serve the Bronx better by not coming in,” said Kelly Moltzen, a Mott Haven resident who is also a nutrition coordinator for Bronx Health REACH, a community program working to reduce obesity and diabetes. “There are a lot of other ways to get healthy food to people without giving a subsidy to a private company that is not part of the neighborhood.”
FreshDirect is expanding its service in a borough that is already striving to improve access to healthier food. Although home to the famed Hunts Point produce market, the Bronx historically saw little of that fresh food in its own supermarkets and bodegas. In recent years, city officials and community groups have worked to expand farmers’ markets and green carts across the Bronx, and persuaded stores to stock more fresh produce.
But Bronx residents like Oscar Rivera, a father of three in Mott Haven, say that while there is plenty of produce at his supermarket, Western Beef, the quality can be so poor — mushy tomatoes and brown bananas — that he does not want to eat it. His wife tried to order from FreshDirect as an alternative only to discover that it did not deliver to their address.
Mr. Rivera, 35, said they might give FreshDirect another try. “If it’s too expensive, we can’t get it,” said Mr. Rivera, who was laid off from his maintenance job last month.
Myrna Maldonado, 45, who is diabetic, also said she would consider using FreshDirect for food that she cannot usually find in her Morrisania neighborhood: Granny Smith apples, seedless tangerines and specialty pears. “But if I can get it cheaper elsewhere, I’ll go there,” Ms. Maldonado said.
Jason Ackerman, chief executive at FreshDirect, would not say how many orders had come in during the first few days of the expanded service. But he said that the company’s prices would be “very competitive” in the Bronx, and that certain foods may cost less than in Manhattan.
By the end of the year, he said, the company will also accept food stamps from some customers in a pilot program meant to reach more people in poor neighborhoods. The standard delivery charge of $5.99 (and a fuel surcharge of 47 cents) will be waived for those using food stamps, but not for other Bronx customers.
In the past, FreshDirect served some affluent neighborhoods in the Bronx, like Riverdale and Woodlawn. Mr. Ackerman said he saw the expansion of service to the rest of the borough as a small, first step toward helping residents eat healthier. “It’s not just access,” he said. “It’s also knowing what to buy and getting people in the right mind frame.”
But critics say FreshDirect’s efforts do not justify the $128 million subsidy it received for its new headquarters in the Bronx, which the company said would employ residents for a third to a half of the 3,000 jobs there. Critics say the money FreshDirect is getting could have been used to help many poor families.
“FreshDirect didn’t come here to help the people of the Bronx,” said Heidi Hynes, executive director of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, which started a food-buying club this year to provide $25 bags of fresh produce and grains to the community. “They came here because they got a subsidy, and they’re only serving the Bronx because the people got mad,” Ms. Hynes said. “It’s insufficient to need.”
At green carts and produce stands around the Bronx, many shoppers said they had not heard of FreshDirect. Some said it was not an option because they did not have a computer with Internet access. Others said it could not match the bargain prices in the Bronx.
“This is my FreshDirect right here,” said Ali Rivera, 56, a former cook who spent $3 for four pears and five nectarines at a stand in Fordham Plaza.
A bustling green cart at East 167th and Gerard Avenue in the western Bronx looked more like a dollar store this week, with offerings like a bag of five tomatoes and a bunch of extra-large carrots. Frances Sosa, a green cart worker, said she had more than 100 customers a day, about half of whom use food stamps.
“Every day, the same people buy here,” she said. “In supermarkets, you get it for $5, here it’s $1, where are you going to buy?”

Congressman, state senator express doubts

 

Congressman, state senator express doubts about South Bronx development in wake of FreshDirect deal

Bronx pols say too many trucks



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/congressman-state-senator-express-doubts-south-bronx-development-wake-freshdirect-deal-article-1.1082800#ixzz1vohkwDrt

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BY  / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 6:00 AM

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Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) and his son, State Sen. Jose Marco Serrano (right).KEITH BEDFORD FOR NEW YORK DAILY

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) and his son, State Sen. Jose Marco Serrano (right).

Two more elected officials have expressed doubts about the use of state-owned land on the South Bronx waterfront for online grocer FreshDirect and other businesses that use trucks.
But they lauded the recent announcement that FreshDirect will deliver to all borough ZIP codes as “a positive step.”
Rep. Jose E. Serrano and state Sen. Jose M. Serrano have asked Albany to halt development at the Harlem River Rail Yards pending an audit of the site where FreshDirect plans to build its new base.
They outlined their concerns in a May 16 letter to Joan McDonald, state Department of Transportation commissioner. Two City Council members, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Maria del Carmen expressed similar concerns in a letter sent to the transportation honcho May 3.
The DOT said it will respond later this month.
Their letter puts the Serranos somewhat at odds with the Cuomo and Bloomberg administrations. In February, the governor and mayor announced a $130 million subsidy package for FreshDirect to relocate from Long Island City, Queens to the South Bronx.
They argue the deal will create 1,000 new jobs and keep the firm from moving to New Jersey.
But in their letter, the Serranos noted that FreshDirect will spawn nearly 2,000 vehicle trips per day and generate diesel exhaust.
The land reserved for FreshDirect is owned by the DOT but controlled by Harlem River Yard Ventures, a private firm with a 99-year lease for the site. When it signed the lease in 1991, it vowed to develop a new rail system for freight that would reduce truck traffic.
But the Serranos claim it has done the opposite, subleasing to firms with heavy vehicle use.
“Such development has exacerbated the health problems,” they wrote, noting that 1 in 5 South Bronx children has asthma.
The Serranos claim the South Bronx has changed and want the state to reevaluate the waterfront as a hub for industry.
In their letter, they blasted FreshDirect for not delivering to the South Bronx. But the firm announced last Friday it will now serve all ZIP codes in the borough. It will also launch a pilot program for food stamp recipients to order groceries online.
Rep. Serrano called the news a “positive development.”
“I hope to see FreshDirect, the city and the state engage in a more direct dialogue with the community,” he said Monday.
FreshDirect has said it plans to replace its diesel fleet with “green” trucks within five years.
dbeekman@nydailynews.com

 

FreshDirect’s rotten Bronx deal

 

FreshDirect’s rotten Bronx deal

I recently moved to Crown Heights. FreshDirect delivers to my apartment, and I was offered a promotion to try the online grocery service that has become popular since starting to serve New York in 2002.
I placed a couple orders — but stopped after I read about the deal the company made with the city in February to build a new facility in the South Bronx.
Why? Because it’s a bum deal for the city I love.
In this sweetheart agreement, FreshDirect will receive $127.8 million in tax subsidies and funds from the city and state to construct a 500,000-square-foot warehouse. Reportedly, if City Hall and Albany hadn’t pitched in, FreshDirect would have likely left its current home in Long Island City for (gasp) New Jersey.
And yet, gallingly, FreshDirect CEO Jason Ackerman has said the business doesn’t have plans to deliver to the very neighborhood, Mott Haven, where it will build a new base of operations for its more than 100 delivery trucks.
“We have always felt that the Bronx has not wanted our service, and we’ve seen over time no natural request for our service,” Ackerman told WNYC this winter.
But if our tax dollars are going to bolster FreshDirect, shouldn’t we all be invited to the table?
Many of the residents of the Bronx rely on bodegas or ancient supermarkets for their groceries. According to this year’s County Health Rankings & Roadmap report on New York State by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bronx is the least healthy county in the entire state. The report takes into account statistics such as employment and mortality rate, as well as access to healthy food.
FreshDirect’s dozens of trucks, emblazoned with images of ripe vegetables, glistening cuts of meat and other delicacies, will be cruising in and out of a neighborhood that, in my estimation, it could do far more to help.
There’s another duplicitous aspect to this deal: City Hall claims that FreshDirect’s move to the South Bronx will create about 1,000 jobs in one of the most impoverished areas in the city.
What economic development officials are much more hesitant to discuss, however, is that the company is not contractually required to create a specific number of jobs. Without concrete thresholds for job creation, what incentives will FreshDirect have to keep its promises?

FreshDirect’s rotten Bronx deal (Daily News Article)

FreshDirect’s rotten Bronx deal 

Poor people need good food, too

Comments (2)


I recently moved to Crown Heights. FreshDirect delivers to my apartment, and I was offered a promotion to try the online grocery service that has become popular since starting to serve New York in 2002.A FreshDirect delivery truck is seen outside one of their warehouses in  New York, April 9, 2010. FreshDirect, Manhattan's online grocery darling, is seeking up to $100 million in funding to open in a brand-new market on the heels of its debut in Connecticut and an expansion in the suburbs of New York. To match ANALYSIS story FRESHDIRECT/   REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)

SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

FreshDirect will get $127.8 million to come to the Bronx, but it won’t deliver to most of the borough.

I placed a couple orders — but stopped after I read about the deal the company made with the city in February to build a new facility in the South Bronx.
Why? Because it’s a bum deal for the city I love.
In this sweetheart agreement, FreshDirect will receive $127.8 million in tax subsidies and funds from the city and state to construct a 500,000-square-foot warehouse. Reportedly, if City Hall and Albany hadn’t pitched in, FreshDirect would have likely left its current home in Long Island City for (gasp) New Jersey.
And yet, gallingly, FreshDirect CEO Jason Ackerman has said the business doesn’t have plans to deliver to the very neighborhood, Mott Haven, where it will build a new base of operations for its more than 100 delivery trucks.
“We have always felt that the Bronx has not wanted our service, and we’ve seen over time no natural request for our service,” Ackerman told WNYC this winter.
But if our tax dollars are going to bolster FreshDirect, shouldn’t we all be invited to the table?
Many of the residents of the Bronx rely on bodegas or ancient supermarkets for their groceries. According to this year’s County Health Rankings & Roadmap report on New York State by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bronx is the least healthy county in the entire state. The report takes into account statistics such as employment and mortality rate, as well as access to healthy food.
FreshDirect’s dozens of trucks, emblazoned with images of ripe vegetables, glistening cuts of meat and other delicacies, will be cruising in and out of a neighborhood that, in my estimation, it could do far more to help.
There’s another duplicitous aspect to this deal: City Hall claims that FreshDirect’s move to the South Bronx will create about 1,000 jobs in one of the most impoverished areas in the city.
What economic development officials are much more hesitant to discuss, however, is that the company is not contractually required to create a specific number of jobs. Without concrete thresholds for job creation, what incentives will FreshDirect have to keep its promises?
In a zip code where FreshDirect’s facility will be built, the average income per household is $14,271, according to federal census figures from 2010. A thousand jobs could make a huge difference — if they actually came.
The key word there is “if,” for as City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito put it to the Daily News last month, “We are always told that these subsidies are going to create jobs. What happens when the companies don’t produce?” Not much, apparently.
She and fellow city Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo are still trying to bring the project to a halt with an appeal to Albany.
If they fail, the “food desert” that is the South Bronx won’t get a much-needed infusion of fresh groceries. Nor can it realistically expect an economic boost from the move, either.
I went to high school in the Bronx, not far from where FreshDirect plans to build its facility. FreshDirect doesn’t deliver to that neighborhood, either. It does, however, deliver to wealthy precincts like Riverdale, where people can afford locally-foraged mushrooms and, since they probably already have jobs, don’t care much whether FreshDirect creates 1,000 jobs or only 15 of them.
I remember, however, how my daily lunch at high school was usually a milkshake from Mister Softee or a $1 slice from a pizza joint a few blocks away.
For me, this was a teenager’s indulgence; for some, unhealthy food is a way of life. What a shame that FreshDirect has so little interest in changing that.
Warshawer is a freelance writer and the managing editor of Brownstoner.com, a blog about Brooklyn.