Fresh Direct, an online grocery delivery service, has called this Long Island City location home for about 10 years. But now with a major move to the Bronx tied up in the courts, some Bronx organizations say Fresh Direct has left a stale taste in their mouths.
Each day thousands of cars and trucks drive along Bruckner Boulevard through Mott Haven.
But people living along the busy thoroughfare are worried the streets could get even more crowded if Fresh Direct is allowed to move into a new location near the Harlem Rail Yards.
Ruben Austria represents a group called South Bronx Unite. The group has filed a lawsuit against Fresh Direct to prevent the company from moving in without an environmental impact study first. Austria says right now Fresh Direct is using information from a 20 year old study, a time when the neighborhood was a lot more industrial with far fewer residents.
“The way things were in 1993, they were pretty horrible,” Austria said.
But a spokesperson for Fresh Direct says the company is making every effort to go green. They’ve already agreed to purchase 10 electric vehicles, and plan to convert the entire fleet within 5 years. In a statement the spokesperson told PIX 11:
“We look forward to the resolution of the issues raised in the litigation so that we can bring thousands of jobs to the South Bronx and expand access to healthy food.”
“But here along asthma alley in the South Bronx where many children already suffer with health problems including obesity and asthma many people with South Bronx Unite to the jobs Fresh Direct would bring to the community just aren’t worth it.”
“Is it worth trading our children’s health for minimum-wage jobs, jobs that you can’t really support a family on, and our answer is no.”
And while more than 30 organizations including the New York Association of Grocery Stores and the Hunger Action Network agree, one major champion for the South Bronx does not.
Majora Carter, who has fought for green development in environmentally challenged neighborhoods like Mott Haven, says she supports Fresh Direct.
Carter says “The company has a long track record of environmental responsibility and job creation that is consistent with my goals for the South Bronx. Claims to the contrary obscure the benefits this company will bring to an area in dire need of good jobs and better grocery options.”
It’s also worth noting that if the move is approved, Fresh Direct will receive almost $130 million in government subsidies. That was part of the incentive to keep the company from moving to New Jersey when it announced it had outgrown this location a few years ago.