Under the wire
By Adam Wisnieski
FreshDirect is coming to the Bronx. At least its headquarters are.
The online grocer decided to move to the borough after outgrowing its current facility in Long Island City. New Jersey and New York both wooed the company, but New York eventually won the contest by forking over $120 million in city and state incentives, including tax breaks and energy-related grants. Jersey offered $100 million.
The decision was announced on Feb. 7 and is expected to create approximately 1,000 new jobs. The city is also expected to retain 2,000 jobs from its Queens location.
FreshDirect, an online grocery store that delivers to people’s homes, will invest $112 million to build a brand new facility at the Harlem River Yards.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. lauded the agreement for bringing jobs to the borough with an unemployment rate (as of December) of 12.4 percent.
But many Bronxites oppose the plan. They cite a lack of transparency in the decision-making process to move the plant to the Bronx, that there is no living wage job guarantee, FreshDirect does not accept food stamps and the development will get in the way of the planned Harlem River Greenway’s connection to Randall’s Island, which, according to Gothamist, already has federal fund allocations.
Critics also point to the fact that FreshDirect does not deliver to the majority of the Bronx, only zip codes 10471 and 10463 and part of 10470, Riverdale and Kingsbridge. The grocer only delivered to 10471 and part of 10463 until residents in Kingsbridge and Van Cortlandt Village started a letter writing campaign in 2010. FreshDirect now delivers to all of 10463. It also delivers to most of Manhattan, much of Queens and Brooklyn, and even drives through the Bronx to deliver in Westchester.
Some of those opposed to FreshDirect’s move to the Bronx say the city should not hand over taxpayer money to a company until it funds a decades-old plan to create a greenway and waterfront park along the Harlem River.
As for transparency, the city held a public hearing on the issue on Feb. 9 after the deal was already announced.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, Political Arena, Fresh Direct, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Gustavo Rivera, Jeff Klein, Adriano Espaillat, PS 15, religious groups, city owned schools, Kingsbridge Armory, Rep. Eliot Engel.