Tag Archives: Harlem River

Two City Council members ask state to delay South Bronx deal for FreshDirect pending property audit (Daily News Article)

Two City Council members ask state to delay South Bronx deal for FreshDirect pending property audit 

FreshDirect deal remains controversial

Two City Council members are demanding more information related to a new headquarters for FreshDirect at the Harlem River Rail Yard.


Two City Council members are demanding more information related to a new headquarters for FreshDirect at the Harlem River Rail Yard.

The food fight over FreshDirect is still raging.
Two months after the Bloomberg administration approved $82 million in subsidies for the company to move to the South Bronx, two City Council members have asked the Cuomo administration to halt the deal.
Melissa Mark-Viverito and Maria del Carmen Arroyo want Albany to delay the move pending an audit of the Harlem River Rail Yards, the state-owned, privately-controlled waterfront site where FreshDirect plans to build its new headquarters.
“We need greater transparency,” Mark-Viverito said Tuesday.
The city, state and the Bronx have already committed about $120 million to the online grocer, with some caveats, but the Cuomo-controlled Empire State Development Corp. has yet to approve an additional $9 million. It expects to vote on the grant this summer.
“We are concerned that this property has been and continues to be used in a manner that is causing severe harm to the residents of the South Bronx and that undermines nearly two decades of rezoning and development,” the councilwomen wrote in a May 3 letter to Joan McDonald, state Department of Transportation commissioner.
When Harlem River Yard Ventures leased the site from the state DOT in 1991, the company vowed to develop a new rail system that would reduce local truck traffic.
But Mark-Viverito and Arroyo claim it has done the opposite, inking subleases with heavy truck users such as FedEx, the New York Post and now FreshDirect.
The DOT said it will respond later this month.
Garbage trains do leave the site by rail, noted Mychal Johnson, a community activist who has opposed the FreshDirect move.
The result is a neighborhood clogged with polluting trucks and stinky trains full of trash from other parts of the city, he said.
The 99-year lease held by Harlem River Yard Ventures was at one point slammed by a state controller as a sweetheart deal.
The company declined to comment. It collects about $500,000 per month from its subleases but pays just $43,000 per month in rent to the state, Mark-Viverito and Arroyo wrote.
They claim the city Industrial Development Agency relied on an outdated environment impact statement when it judged the FreshDirect plan. The 1993 statement was put together before rezonings that generated new housing and made the neighborhood less suitable for industry.
Furthermore, Mark-Viverito believes FreshDirect could remain in Long Island City, Queens.
Mayor Bloomberg and others argued subsidies were needed to keep the growing firm from bolting to New Jersey.
But in its application for Garden State subsidies, the growing firm described a Queens expansion as a cheap, viable option.

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:


Joint letter with Counselmembers Mark-Viverito and Arroyo – Harlem River Rail Yard Letter to NYSDOT


Because of all the hard work by all of us in so many ways, we have just received a joint letter from New York City Councilwomen Maria Del Carmen Arroyo and Melissa Mark Viverito to the NYSDOT asking for and audit of the lease to the Galesi Group’s for the Harlem River Rail Yards and a moratorium on all present development until a revue can be completed.

See the letter here:

FreshDirect chose the MOST EXPENSIVE option!

Unbelievable!  FreshDirect not only identified and has the ability to stay and expand in Long Island City, a move to the Bronx represents the highest cost option!

“To meet its long-term space requirements, Fresh Direct has identified three primary options:

Long lsland CityFresh Direct has identified a lot adjacent to its Borden Avenue facility which the Company could purchase and develop. The lot would accommodate a new 96,000 square foot expansion facility, which, combined with the extension of one or more of its recently leased facilities would provide the necessary capacity to accommodate the
planned growth
. While operating from multiple facilities creates inherent inefficiencies,  this option provides for the least amount of business disruption and lowest employee attrition. Further, this option requires the lowest level of capital investment, allowing the Company to deploy those resources to other areas of the business operations.

Harlem River Yards, Bronx: The Company is considering a green site in the Bronx for the construction of a new 325,000 square foot facility, plus additional mezzanine space. Under this scenario Fresh Direct would consolidate all of its Long Island City  operations into the new Bronx facility. While new construction on this site represents the
highest cost option, requiring significant upfront capital
, it achieves two of Fresh Direct’s primary occupancy objectives by delivering highly efficient operating space with limited business disruption and employee attrition.

Secaucus Road, Jersey City: Fresh Direct also is considering a new construction project in New Jersey. The Company has narrowed its search to a single site facility on Secaucus Road in Jersey, where it would construct a new facility of approximately 400,000 square feet.  As with the Bronx option, the full Long Island City operations
would be relocated and consolidated into this new facility. While this option achieves the desired operational efficiencies, it results in the highest level business disruption and employee attrition, and requires significant upfront capital investment.

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.

Harlem River Working Group Meeting (Emergency Change of Location due to FreshDirect Decision)

Please join us at the HRWG meeting (see details below). Both Senator Serrano’s chief of staff and Councilmember Foster’s chief of staff will be attending!
We have changed our meeting to a place in Community Board 1 due to the situation that has been occurring around FreshDirect.
The Emergency Change of Location
Harlem River Working Group Meeting
Thursday, February 16, 2012
6-8 pm
East Side Settlement House Cafeteria
201 St. Ann’s Avenue
(at the corner of 137th Street – 1 block from Brook Avenue)
Directions: Take the 6 Train to Brook Avenue Stop.
NOTE:  5pm, HRWG members may want to meet at the corner of 132nd and St Ann’s Avenue to discuss the Highbridge Yards Site and walk to the site of the Proposed Greenway connector at 132nd and the Amtrack Bridge.
Please send other agenda items for the meeting ASAP.
Thank you for your understanding about the last minute changes!!