Tag Archives: Stop Fresh Direct

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.

Tune in tonight – BronxTalk @ 9pm

South Bronx Unite will be appearing on BronxTalk on TONIGHT 3/12 9pm ET,  to discuss the film, Battle for Brooklyn and FreshDirect.
The show is live on Cablevision’s channel 67 & Verizon Fios channel 33 each Monday night at 9pm.
Please pass the word and call in if you can.
If you want to ask a question, here is the number.
718-960-7241

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.

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.

South Bronx Unite in the News

In the last week we’ve made quite the splash! We will continue to Unite as a community to let our voices be heard. 

New York Times: In Bronx, FreshDirect and Land of Great Promises
Michael Powell – February 20, 2012
Bronx TimesMott Haven residents rally over relocation of Fresh Direct headquarters
Kirsten Sanchez – February 20, 2012
The Riverdale PressUnder the wire
Adam Wisnieski – February 15, 2012
Crain’sDid FreshDirect deserve more than $100M in tax breaks and subsidies?
February 15, 2012 (69% say no)
WNYCLiu Questions $100M Fresh Direct Subsidy
February 15, 2012 – 10:32 AM
New York Times: Criticism of FreshDirect Deal Is Off Base, City Officials Say
Charles V. Bagli – February 14, 2012
NY Daily NewsAn $83M ‘Direct’ deposit
Daniel Beekman – February 14, 2012
El DiarioProtestarán contra instalación de Fresh Direct en El Bronx
Jose Acosta – 2012-02-14
NBC New YorkSome Opposed to FreshDirect’s Planned Move to Bronx
Feb 14, 2012
The Village VoiceCity Panel Votes to Approve $128 Million FreshDirect Payoff (liveblog)
Neil deMause – Tue., Feb. 14 2012
Mott Haven HeraldCity approves FreshDirect subsidies
Joe Hirsch – 14. Feb, 2012
DNAinfo New YorkCity To Vote on Fresh Direct Deal Tuesday, Despite Pleas to Delay Decision Patrick Wall – February 14, 2012
GothamistFresh Direct’s Sweet Gov’t Subsidies Sicken Some In The Bronx
February 13, 2012
The Village VoiceSome People Are Not Happy With FreshDirect’s Move to the Bronx
Sam Levin – Mon., Feb. 13 2012
Crain’s New YorkOpposition to FreshDirect subsidy deal mounts
The New York ObserverFight Over FreshDirect Facility Continues
Hunter Walker – 2/13
News 12Protesters take to the Web against Fresh Direct
Feb 13, 2012
Mott Haven HeraldMott Havenites say ‘no deal’ to FreshDirect
Amora McDaniel – 10 Feb 2012
DNAinfo New YorkFresh Direct Deal Blasted by South Bronx Residents and Activists
Patrick Wall – February 9, 2012
New York PostDeal with the devil: Tax breaks with strings
Nicole Gelinas – February 9, 2012
Daily NewsBronx residents to weigh in on new Fresh Direct HQ
Daniel Beekman – February 08, 2012
News 12Plan to open Fresh Direct HQ in Bronx causes stir
Feb 8, 2012
NY1Bronx Residents Speak Out Against New FreshDirect Headquarters
2/7/2012

A great NYT article featuring Mychal Johnson

To wander the industrial prairies that edge the Harlem River in the Bronx is to discover an archaeological dig of government subsidies and unfilled promises.
Here, between the peeling steel girders of the Willis Avenue and Robert F. Kennedy Bridges, Mychal Johnson, a lithe, goateed and good-humored Mott Haven resident and community board member, sweeps his arms at grass rising waist-high out of rail pilings, and at the massive green wall of a waste plant.
Soon, FreshDirect, the deliver-groceries-to-your-apartment company, is to build a sprawling, taxpayer-subsidized plant here, with 130 delivery trucks rumbling about day and night.
“This was supposed to be where railyards changed the city’s transportation,” Mr. Johnson says. “Now we’re going to have trucks pouring more pollution into a neighborhood with the worst asthma rates in New York.”
In the early 1990s, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo gave the Galesi Company a sweetheart of a 99-year lease to control these 104 acres, the Harlem River Yards. The governor promised a world-class train yard that would create 5,000 jobs and give the city cleaner air. None of that happened. Galesi, however, found a land of promise. The company had leased the acreage at one-third the going rate. And public agencies poured in tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to place rent-paying companies on Galesi’s land.
Now FreshDirect steps into this gilded breach, holding a $127.8 million fistful of cash and tax breaks. City and state officials often describe FreshDirect, which will lease its land from Galesi, as “iconic.” Certainly its owners tug at public subsidy programs with the assurance of a farmer sitting before a swollen dairy cow.
Not long ago, FreshDirect got a $2 million subsidy to build in Queens. Then the company batted its eyes at New Jersey, and officials there dangled a $100 million subsidy package. This seemed more a feint than a threat, as FreshDirect would have been on the wrong side of the clogged Hudson River tunnels from its customer base. But New York officials tumbled over themselves getting to the bargaining table.
Before we go further, let me make an admission. I’ve called FreshDirect, particularly when our boys were young and schlepping them to the supermarket promised a cacophonous experiment in emotional meltdown. I don’t doubt there is a market for bringing groceries to the harried.
City officials faced a difficult choice. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has tried to steel himself against the siren song of corporate welfare. He risked second guessing, should FreshDirect, with about 2,000 working-class jobs, depart.
As for the Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., this deal made a small-town booster of him. He signed an unenforceable memorandum in which FreshDirect talks of, maybe, reserving 300 jobs for Bronx residents. His staff members tossed up a Facebook site: “Bronxites for FreshDirect.” Alas, those who are posting appear mostly to be opposed, perhaps because FreshDirect refuses to deliver in much of the Bronx.
Mr. Diaz was undaunted; he framed the question for the naysayers: “Do we say no to the potential of 3,000 jobs?”
That’s the wrong question. The company has promised to create 1,000 jobs over the next 10 years. And the city can exact no penalty for failure. Should FreshDirect fall short, it faces no requirement to repay the subsidies.
Jason Ackerman made his bones at a now-defunct investment house before founding FreshDirect. He is very 21st century, talking of locavores and freshness and supporting farmers. His warehouses tend more toward the early 20th century. If you haul 50-pound boxes in the 38 degree chill of the warehouse, you can make $8.75 an hour; ride the trucks, and haul boxes down sidewalks and up stairs, and you get $8, along with whatever tips are tossed your way.
Local 805 of the Teamsters made unsuccessful runs at organizing the warehouse workers. In the last effort, just before the certifying election, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a surprise audit of FreshDirect. The company checked its files for Social Security cards and — surprise! — found many workers without documents. Between 100 and 300 left.
The company insisted it had nothing to do with the audit.
There are those, not the least South Bronx residents, who wonder if America’s densest city should so richly encourage a business that pays little and logs tens of thousands of pollution-belching hours to make deliveries. They could use parkland instead. City officials wave off such objections as beside the point.
As for Mr. Ackerman, he is buoyant. He wrote the cover letter to accompany his application for the subsidies.
“We are proud to support New York, through employment, service and good will!” he wrote. “We are New Yorkers!”
How grand. Imagine if his company paid for that pleasure.

…with love for our hood in truth always…