Tag Archives: fresh direct

Fresh Direct feasts on tax deal

| smosco@queenscourier.com

A sweet tax subsidy deal for an online grocer is leaving some with a bitter taste in their mouths.

After an announcement that seemed to imply an agreement was in the bag, the city is taking some heat for its deal with online food retailer Fresh Direct – which will receive more than $100 million in tax subsidies to move from its Long Island City facility to new digs in the Bronx.

Critics argue that the deal announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo on February 7 should never have happened without public input. And after a hearing on February 9 and a vote on February 14 – which many feel is inconsequential – the deal seems to be a foregone conclusion.

“Today’s $100 million subsidy to Fresh Direct was already a done deal from the moment it was announced last week and the reality is that my vote today does not change the outcome,” said City Comptroller John Liu, referring to the vote to approve the pact. “Nonetheless, I cannot vote for this subsidy in good conscience. There may be more ways to ensure a better return on this investment.”

To convince the company to stay in the city and not move to a proposed site in New Jersey, a package of state and city incentives valued at over $100 million is being provided to augment the company’s private investment of $112.6 million. Fresh Direct said it will retain nearly 2,000 existing jobs and create almost 1,000 new jobs when it moves to the location at Harlem River Yards.

Liu said that for the cost of this tax subsidy, the city could give 4,385 students full, four-year scholarships to CUNY or hire 1,458 new teachers.

“The EDC (Economic Development Corporation) has not clearly justified why this much money should be used to subsidize this company,” he said. “This subsidy seems to give away too much in exchange for the jobs and economic development it promises, despite the rosy numbers provided by the EDC.”

The EDC contends that the approval process was not expedited and that the details of the deal have been available on the corporation’s web site for weeks.

Fresh Direct did not return requests for comment as of press time.


Greg Kelly Cleared: ‘Mutual lust’ nixes claim by rape accuser

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Greg Kelly Cleared: ‘Mutual lust’ nixes claim by rape accuser

Manhattan prosecutors will not seek rape charges against Greg Kelly, the TV talk-show host and son of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, stemming from a complaint filed by a 29-year-old woman, authorities said last night. The case was over nearly as soon as it started — after it surfaced that his aspiring-model accuser engaged in steamy texting with him after their sexual encounter, suggesting they get together again, sources said. Read More: New York Post
‘Drunken’ driver kills Queens man, 89

A boozed-up driver yesterday fatally struck an 89-year-old Queens man crossing the street just steps from his home, police said. Demitrios Matsoukatidis, 67, was driving east on 21st Avenue near 31st Street in Astoria at 6 p.m. when he smashed into Lizardo Aladana as he was in the crosswalk, authorities said. Aladana, who cops said was crossing against the light, was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital Queens, where he died. Read More: New York Post

FreshDirect leaving Long Island City for the Bronx

After flirting with a move to New Jersey, a Queens produce supplier has accepted a fresh offer – and will most likely relocate to the Bronx. FreshDirect, an online fresh food grocer, will uproot from its operations in Long Island City and leave the borough for larger facilities, according to a joint statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on February 7. Read More: Queens Courier


Queens lawmakers and civic leaders rail against proposed legislative districts 

Queens residents and lawmakers packed into a public hearing Tuesday to rail against proposed legislative districts they claim fractures neighborhoods and dilutes their political voice. “You have taken the 24th Assembly District and sliced and diced communities haphazardly along a narrow corridor that stretches across Queens,” Bob Friedrich of the civic group Eastern Queens United told members of the Legislative Task Force for Demographic Research and Reapportionment, which held the hearing at Queens Borough Hall. Read More: Daily News

Assemblyman Lancman Considers Run Against Congressman Turner

Queens State Assemblyman Rory Lancman took the first step to challenge New York City’s newest congressman this fall. Lancman, a Democrat, filed papers Tuesday morning to form an exploratory committee for a congressional campaign to challenge Republican incumbent Bob Turner. Turner won a special election last fall after Anthony Weiner resigned in the wake of a text-messaging scandal. Read More: NY1

Is Fresh Direct moving from L.I.C.?

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

A Queens produce supplier may be saying goodbye to the Big Apple and starting fresh directly across the Hudson River.  Fresh Direct, the online grocer currently based in Long Island City, is being lured by New Jersey with a reported $100 million package of tax breaks, land and other subsidies if they relocate to Jersey City.

Erin Gold, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, confirmed Fresh Direct has applied for assistance under the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program, which encourages private investment in nine designated urban centers in the state, including Jersey City. According to Gold, a minimum investment of $50 million and 250 employees is mandatory to qualify for the program.

Bettina Damiani, project director of Good Jobs New York, a watchdog on the city’s economic development subsidy program, finds Fresh Direct’s potential move discourteous and offensive. “The conversation really needs to be about their subsidies from the city for their L.I.C. facility” said Damiani. “If they move, my question is, don’t they have to pay back some of their subsidies to the city? I think it is insulting that Fresh Direct, which has benefited from tax payer subsidies, is putting their thumbs in our eyes when we helped them reach the point where they want to expand. They are playing unfairly. They are asking for more money, and then they are playing the whole New Jersey border war.”

Damiani says Fresh Direct agreed to a package with New York City from 1999 to 2025 worth $5.3 million, of which they have currently used $2.2 million. A public hearing is currently scheduled for February 9, during which the grocery provider can officially request a subsidies increase.

The decade-old company, which delivers fresh food and grocery items to New York City, Nassau County, Westchester County and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, declined to comment regarding its potential relocation across state lines. According to a city official, New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are countering the Garden State’s offer with a deal that would move the grocery supplier to a new, 500,000-square-foot facility in the Harlem River Yards of the Bronx.

Repeated attempts to contact the mayor’s office went unreturned.

Negotiations are currently ongoing between the city and Fresh Direct, which the official says has outgrown its current L.I.C. facility and needs more space to expand. The grocer, which currently employes roughly 2,000 people, is aiming to create 500 new jobs within the next three years.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents L.I.C., says the state and city are working on a deal to ensure the produce supplier continues to grow in New York.

According to published reports, Fresh Direct is leaning towards staying in the city with a move to the Bronx.

“Fresh Direct is an important New York City employer,” said Kyle Sklerov, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “We want to ensure that it continues to create new jobs right here in the five boroughs.”