The Battle for the Bronx

FreshDirectImage

Image Courtesy of FreshDirect

In 2012, the former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, offered millions of dollars in tax subsidies and incentives to FreshDirect so they could build a new headquarters in the South Bronx waterfront. South Bronx Unite (SBU) is a coalition of South Bronx residents and allies that have brought a multitude of legal obstacles to the FreshDirect development. The community organization contends that the new construction will disrupt the growing residential neighborhood that already has a history of environmental and health challenges.

FreshDirect is known for transporting groceries to your door and currently delivers to Philadelphia, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. FreshDirect has outgrown its Queens location, and New York-elected officials have offered significant tax breaks to the company in hopes that they would stay in New York, instead of relocating to New Jersey. The company would like to build a new 500,000-square-foot waterfront plant, one that (they believe) will create 1,000 new jobs over the next ten years, and shift 2,000 jobs from its location in Long Island City, to the new South Bronx location. FreshDirect will also be transferring its trucks to a fleet of environmentally safe vehicles.

South Bronx Unite is leading the opposition against the development. SBU has rallied over 50 organizations and recently received the 2014 Environmental Justice Award for its work to preserve the South Bronx waterfront. SBU claims FreshDirect was improperly allowed to lease state-owned land that was intended originally to promote rail use, a strategy to reduce traffic congestion in the Bronx. This is a great example of community activism at its best.

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4 Comments

  1. Joanne

     /  September 4, 2014

    good, boycott fresh direct!

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  2. Ashley

     /  September 16, 2014

    Love this piece! Last semester, I was able to explore some of the dynamics at work within the Fresh Direct/South Bronx United contention and chat some with SBU. I kind of forgot about it, but this was a great reminder that the fight is still on-going. Since I’m in NYC now, I’m definitely going to get back in touch with them and try to set up a visit.

    SN: I’m with Joanne – Boycott Fresh Direct!

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  3. Jenni

     /  October 7, 2014

    Thank you for writing this blog post. It’s such a great example of a community uniting to advocate for its rights to clean air, healthy food and proper land use. Although the initial intention of moving Fresh Direct to the South Bronx may have been positive – to keep jobs in NYC rather than moving them to New Jersey – SBU has highlighted environmental and economic factors that may not have been taken into consideration. What I find particularly upsetting is that they are asking a neighborhood to house a large facility dedicated to delivering fresh food that does not deliver to its neighborhood residents.

    Although it appears that the legal battles will result in Fresh Direct building in the South Bronx (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/court-delivers-victory-freshdirect-article-1.1737258), I hope that Fresh Direct will still take its concerned residents into account by expanding its delivery range to the South Bronx and shifting to environmentally friendly delivery trucks. I agree that this could be a great opportunity for Fresh Direct, the NY government and SBU to work together to find a way to meet everyone’s needs, bringing jobs and access to healthy food to the neighborhood with the least possible disruption to the local environment. I look forward to following this story and seeing how everything turns out.

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  4. This sounds like a repeat of when the Hunts Point Market opened and when the Fulton Fish Market relocated to the South Bronx. Given they are expanding their delivery radius but unless the average income of those neighborhoods rises greatly it’s nearly a moot point as Fresh Direct isn’t cheap.

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