Tag Archives: Bronx

Lawsuit in the News


Bronx Residents Protest $130M Subsidies For Online

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

Pedal, Paddle, Picnic 8/18 11am

South Bronx Unite
invites you to join us at the FREE

Bike tour of our waterfront ends on Randall’s Island with canoe paddling introduction tour.

Join South Bronx Unite! for a FREE unique tour of the South Bronx and Randall’s Is-land. The ride will promote environmental awareness through site visits to the water-front, community gardens, public artwork and historic places, as well as power plants and waste transfer facilities that pollute our rivers’ shores. We will see the proposed site for Fresh Direct that we are working to stop!
Saturday, August 18th

11am Bike Tour
Meet @ Brook Park
East 141st Street & Brook Avenue

(Bring your own bike, we have limited bikes you can borrow)
1pm Canoe/Picnic

Meet @ North West corner of
Randall’s Island
(We’ll provide the FREE canoes, bring your own lunch)


For more information or to RSVP email southbronxunite@gmail.com

City Council Members Urge Audit of South Bronx Waterfront Lease and Moratorium on Polluting Developments like FreshDirect

City Council Members Urge Audit of South Bronx Waterfront Lease and Moratorium on Polluting Developments like FreshDirect

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE12:30 PM Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mychal Johnson,  mychaljohnson@gmail.com(212) 810-0562Harry Bubbins, h.bubbins@gmail.com(646) 648 4362
                                                                                                        South Bronx community residents and activists are excited about the recent letter signed by local City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Maria del Carmen Arroyo calling for a moratorium on any development on the South Bronx waterfront, including the controversial FreshDirect proposal.

The entire southern shore of the Bronx is owned by the public under the auspices of the New York State Department of Transportation.  In 1993 an unprecedented 99 year lease was granted to the Galesi Group’s Harlem River Rail Yards Ventures, an Albany insider real estate firm that distributes political contributions to both major parties despite litigation from the South Bronx Clean Air Coalition.  Francesco Galesi was a member of the Audit Committee for Worldcom which signed off on years’ worth of cooked books that the misstated $3.9 billion in costs as revenue.
While mentioning a number of troubling concerns, the Council Members highlighted the potential impact on air quality and asthma. The cumulative effect of such facilities on air quality in the South Bronx, where we have an asthma epidemic, is staggering. Asthma hospitalizations in the South Bronx are five times the national average; asthma deaths are three times the national average; and it is estimated that one in every five children in the South Bronx has asthma.”
The letter further echoed longstanding concerns that were raised in two different audits in the past by the New York State Comptroller’s office. “Adding insult to injury, Harlem River Yard Ventures collects approximately $500,000 per month in rent from its subleases’, while paying only $43,000 per month in rent to DOT for the entire 94 acres.”
 The FreshDirect proposal relies on a 1993 Environmental Impact Statement for a community that has undergone numerous land-use changes and greenway initiatives and changes in the character of the area.

“They have not considered how the neighborhood has changed from 20 years ago.  We have rezoned the area and there is a brand new 400+ apartment complex right next to the proposed site. This is a budding residential area with new developments and loft conversions; it is not an industrial wasteland” said Mychal Johnson. “We need open space and waterfront access and real economic development.” 
The proposed relocation is a “slap in the face to the people of the South Bronx,” said Ivylese Andino, a resident of Mott Haven. “We are in dire need of fresh food in this community, but FreshDirect won’t even deliver in the South Bronx. Yet they have no qualms about driving fleets of trucks in and out of our neighborhood every day, polluting the air our people breathe, while they bring their product to wealthier communities.”

Furthermore, the contention that FreshDirect would move to New Jersey seems to have been a falsehood meant to extract an offer of greater public subsidies.  Leaked documents have revealed that, according to their own analysis, it is cheaper and possible for FreshDirect to remain in Long Island City. ”They did not share this information with the Governor and the Mayor,” said Harry Bubbins, director of a local environmental organization.”  We are confident that when they learn about the misleading statements, the package of public subsidies will be significantly lowered and an action plan for keeping FreshDirect in Long Island City (while saving tax payer resources) will be implemented.”

Council Members Viverito and Arroyo concluded by writing,  “Therefore, we request that the Department of Transportation audit the lease for this property, consider declaring an event of default, and explore the State’s remedies in the event of such default. We also request that the Department of Transportation place a moratorium on all new development at Harlem River Yards, including with respect to FreshDirect’s proposed development, until a thorough review of the current uses of the land and the cumulative effects of such uses on the residents of the South Bronx can be done, taking full account of the socio-economic makeup of the neighborhood and the disproportionate impact on the poorest congressional district in the country.”

Council Members Viverito and Arroyo Letter:


Council Member Viverito blog post:


Background on Mr. Galesi:


Leaked documents with relocation cost comparison:


The Facts – FreshDirect does not belong in the South Bronx

FreshDirect does not belong in the South Bronx

Public officials have misrepresented the details of the proposed move of Fresh Direct. South Bronx residents in “Asthma Alley” continue to ask New York City and State to oppose FreshDirect’s taxpayer-funded relocation.

First, FreshDirect would not bring a single guarantied job to the South Bronx. Despite what elected officials have said, the $127.8 million in public funds awarded to FreshDirect carries no mandate that they add any jobs or hire a single person from the South Bronx, a fact reaffirmed by the non-binding agreement between FreshDirect and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.
Additionally, FreshDirect has a well-documented history of unfair labor practices and would be exempt from city living wage requirements.

Second, FreshDirect would exacerbate asthma rates among a community already facing asthma hospitalizations at five times the national average. FreshDirect would add upwards of 2,000 diesel truck trips per day through a residential neighborhood. The same public land set to house FreshDirect already holds a FedEx hub making over 1,400 daily truck trips through the neighborhood, the New York Post printing and distribution center, and a 5000 ton per day waste transfer station, one of four waste transfer stations within a 1/8 mile radius of the proposed site.

Third, FreshDirect plans to build on land documented to be a Native American burial ground and settlement. The owner of this historically significant site, New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), acknowledges that artifacts of the Ranachqua Village and burial ground may be present.

Fourth, DOT’s twenty-one year-old agreement with a private developer is outdated and harming residents. The 1991 lease to Harlem River Yard Ventures (HRYV) was designed to “reduce congestion from truck traffic” by developing the rail system. While HRYV failed to follow through on this, surrounding areas have drastically changed: land bordering the site has been rezoned for residential use, significant residential development has taken place, and the area has been included in the New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. Despite local development and city planning, however, HRYV continues to sublease to companies that block public access to the waterfront and cause egregious levels of air, water, land, and noise pollution. The City, State, Borough and Fresh Direct all ignored these facts when crafting the proposed move to the South Bronx.

Fifth, FreshDirect will not provide food to the South Bronx. FreshDirect plans to use a handout from the Bronx to move to public land in the Bronx without providing any service to the
community they want to occupy.

Finally, architects of this deal ignored the democratic process and were not upfront with the public. Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and Borough President Diaz announced that the deal was done two days before the sole public hearing on the matter. In doing so, they publicly demonstrated that community input was not important. Additionally, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has refuted the notion that they made a competitive offer to support a FreshDirect move across the Hudson.

South Bronx residents deserve better.

South Bronx Unite | is a alliance of South Bronx residents, organizations, and allies. Follow us on

Have you seen this yet?! What you may not know about FreshDirect

What You May Not Know About Fresh Direct from Olivia Smith on Vimeo.
Controversy is growing over Fresh Direct’s planned move to the Bronx. The online grocery store received almost $130 million in tax credits and cash incentives from New York state to relocate. But lost in all this is what you may not know about Fresh Direct and its impact on the environment. Olivia Smith reports.

What You May Not Know About Fresh Direct (Video)

What You May Not Know About Fresh Direct from Olivia Smith on Vimeo.
Controversy is growing over Fresh Direct’s planned move to the Bronx. The online grocery store received almost $130 million in tax credits and cash incentives from New York state to relocate. But lost in all this is what you may not know about Fresh Direct and its impact on the environment. Olivia Smith reports.