Tag Archives: Mott Haven

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

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.

FRANCES ROBERTS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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.

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
www.southbronxunite.org

For Immediate Release – Battle for Brooklyn at Bronx Documentary Center

 

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ed Garcia Conde 917.532.7504 themayor@welcome2melrose.com
                Lily Kesselman 917.532.7884 lily@lilykesselman.com
March 5, 2012
Join South Bronx Unite Stop Fresh Direct; Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn; and Good Jobs New York for a screening of the award-winning documentary Battle for Brooklyn at Bronx Documentary Center.

Thursday, March 8 at 7:00pm
614 Courtlandt Avenue (@ 151st St.)
Bronx, New York 10451
(close to the 2 or 5 train at 3rd Avenue—149th)
Battle for Brooklyn (93 minutes) follows the story of reluctant activist Daniel Goldstein as he struggles to save his home and community from being demolished to make way for a professional basketball arena and the densest real estate development in U.S. history.
The film will be followed by a Q&A featuring the filmmakers; Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s Daniel Goldstein; Good Jobs New York’s Bettina Damiani; and South Bronx Unite Stop Fresh Direct. The discussion will explore how mega economic development deals that seem isolated are connected by grassroots struggles that affect us all. Panelists will discuss the seven-year battle over Forest City Ratner’s eminent domain abuse at Atlantic yards and the current burgeoning struggle against the city’s proposal to help move FreshDirect, the online grocer, from Queens to the Bronx waterfront, where activists have long been trying to establish a greenway. Both are campaigns against destructive, undemocratic, and publicly subsidized land deals bolstered by spurious promises of jobs that, as “Battle for Brooklyn” proves, never seem to materialize.

 

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.

FreshDirect does not belong in the Bronx

FreshDirect does not belong in the Bronx:
Online grocer will add 2000 daily truck trips through “asthma alley” and build on waterfront land documented as site of Native American burial ground
South Bronx residents continue to ask New York City and New York State residents to oppose FreshDirect’s publicly-funded relocation to public land on the South Bronx waterfront.  Documents withheld from the public by Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, but obtained recently through the Freedom of Information Law, demonstrate that our elected official are lying to South Bronx residents.
Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz talk about bringing jobs to the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the country with the highest unemployment rates in New York. They are lying to us.  FreshDirect is not bringing 2,000 jobs to the South Bronx; those are not new jobs, they are existing jobs and there was never a credible threat that FreshDirect was moving any of those jobs to New Jersey.  Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz tell us that FreshDirect has committed to hiring local residents, but their Memorandum of Understanding says in black and white that it is unenforceable and that it is not for the benefit of any resident of the Bronx or any other citizen.  Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz tell us that FreshDirect will bring 1,000 additional jobs to the South Bronx in the next ten years, but FreshDirect has no obligation to create a single new job; they get to keep every penny of the taxpayer’s $127.8 million even if they reduce their workforce.  Moreover, FreshDirect would be exempt from any local living wage mandates adopted by the city, 40% of its employees currently earn $25,000 per year or less, and FreshDirect’s abysmal record of labor practices includes 27 discrimination and nine unfair labor claims against the company in the last four years alone.
Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz tell us that FreshDirect will build on land that has been dormant for decades and imply that this public land would not otherwise be used or developed.  They are lying to us.  FreshDirect wants to build on part of a 94 acre waterfront plot of public land owned by the state of New York.  In the 20 years since the state leased this public land to a private developer, the Department of City Planning has rezoned the area surrounding the proposed FreshDirect site to promote profitable residential and commercial mixed use development of the 1.9 miles of South Bronx waterfront.  Further, the South Bronx has been included in the New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan to increase our community’s access to the waterfront, connect us to the Randall’s Island and East Harlem Greenways, and otherwise maximize economic development potential.  The proposed site is directly next to existing and new residential developments and funding already has been approved to build a pedestrian connector from the South Bronx to Randall’s Island.  Further still, the proposed FreshDirect site contains a documented American Indian settlement, the Ranachqua Village and burial ground.  Rather than giving real assistance to our community by promoting sustainable development and preserving our heritage, Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz continue their pattern of using taxpayer money to relocate industrial and manufacturing companies from more affluent communities to the South Bronx.
The only honest statement that Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz make is that the FreshDirect project will have a major impact on the South Bronx.  The FreshDirct project will bring an extra 1,000 truck trips a day and 2,000 vehicle trips per day through the most congested traffic corridors of the South Bronx, a community nicknamed “asthma alley” because we have asthma hospitalizations five times the national average.  Offensively, the supposed purpose of leasing this public land to a private entity was to develop an intermodal rail yard to reduce truck traffic on New York City streets.  That turned out to be rubbish, literally.  Rather than building that rail hub, this developer subleased our land to a solid waste transfer station, whose trucks bring 3,000 tons of garbage per day through our community, and a FedEx hub that brings another 1,432 truck trips per day.
This misuse of our public land for private benefit is at our expense.  This abuse of our land is causing unconscionable levels of air, water, land and noise pollution, frustrating city planning efforts to sustainably develop our community, and continuing to block South Bronx residents’ access to our waterfront.  Adding insult to injury, FreshDirect does not and has never served our community, and there is no enforceable requirement or plan that they will ever do so.  Only an obscenely undemocratic process could lead to a plan like this.  Cuomo, Bloomberg and Diaz did not consult with the people of the South Bronx, did not consult with Councilwoman Melissa Viverito, and did not consult with Community Board 1 before announcing on February 7 that FreshDirect would receive public money to abandon Queens and move to the South Bronx.  The sole public hearing on this project was a complete sham; it took place in Manhattan and two days after the deal was announced.  Subsequent attempts to gain community support have been met with overwhelming disapproval.  Degrading the very people he is supposed to represent, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz created a Facebook page to “illustrate to the company just how many Bronx residents are willing to not only use their service, but have the technical capabilities to do so.”  The site was overwhelmed by opposition to the deal.
The people of the South Bronx demand better.
South Bronx Unite | is a coalition of South Bronx residents, organizations and allies.