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Court rejects appeal to stop FreshDirect move to Bronx

BREAKING: Court appeal to stop FreshDirect move to South Bronx thrown out

Bronx Times
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BREAKING NEWS: FreshDirect just got a fresh stamp of approval.

A state appeals court rejected charges that the city relied on an outdated environmental study when it awarded the internet grocer $87 million in subsidies last July.

The decision, announced Thursday, March 27 by the Appellate Division in Manhattan, clears the way for the company to build a 500,000-square-foot warehouse on the Harlem River Yards.

Bronx officials have promised that the move will bring 1,000 full-time jobs and 644 construction jobs to the borough.

“The court’s decision is a victory not only for FreshDirect, but for The Bronx as a whole,” Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement. “ My office has, since day one, understood that this project is crucial to the future economic health and vitality of the Bronx, and I am glad to see that the continued legal efforts to stop this critical project have been thoroughly dismissed.”

A neighborhood coaliton, South Bronx Unite, had charged that the company, which hopes to move from its present location in Queens, violated state law by relying on a 1993 environmental impact report when it applied for funding from the city Industrial Development Agency.

“We’re disappointed that the court has decided that the South Bronx is only good enough for a 21-year-old environmental study,” said Mychal Johnson, one of the group’s leaders.

Since the original study, much of the area around the Harlem River Yards has been rezoned from industrial to residential, with families moving in.

Opponents of the move have charged that the increased truck traffic resulting from the move will only worsen the air quality of the already asthma-choked nabe.

The group’s original lawsuit was tossed out by a Bronx state Supreme Court judge in June 2013.

While the group can still carry their appeal to the state Court of Appeals, they’re calling on new Mayor Bill de Blasio to find a way to halt the move.

“This shows how the new mayor needs to step in and to stop this tale of two cities,” said Johnson, adding: “We’re not going to stop fighting.”

FreshDirect brass, meanwhile, are pumped to be hopefully done with the legal fight and finally get to building.

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for those who care about creating good jobs in the nation’s poorest Congressional District,” company co-founder Jason Ackerman, said in a statement. “Our focus now turns to building our facility and making good on the promise of creating jobs and economic activity in the Bronx.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.
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