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Fresh Direct leaving LIC for the Bronx

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

While online grocer Fresh Direct decided not to set up shop in the Garden State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Long Island City-grown business would be moving to the Bronx.

“I’m disappointed they couldn’t find a way to stay in Long Island City, but I’m glad that we kept them in New York City,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).

Fresh Direct’s home base, which employs 2,000 people, is at 23-30 Borden Ave. but it delivers groceries and caters to places throughout Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn through its website at freshdirect.com.

Cuomo announced Fresh Direct would be spending $112.6 million on a 500,000-square-foot facility on the Harlem River Rail Yards in the Bronx. The move is expected to create 1,000 new permanent jobs at Fresh Direct, as well as 684 construction jobs. It will also allow the company to expand services to places throughout New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia.

“Fresh Direct is a home-grown success that will now continue to grow and create jobs in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The company had previously applied for New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program in November. To woo Fresh Direct to stay in the state, New York offered the company multiple tax credits, benefits and grants from the state, city, the Bronx and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. adding up to more than $100 million.

“Making sure that companies like Fresh Direct can grow and invest in New York City is a key part of our strategy to rebuild and diversify our economy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “A thousand new jobs at the Harlem River Yards is great news for the Bronx and a welcome boost to our city’s economy.”

Gianaris said it was a testament to Fresh Direct’s success that it outgrew the Borden Avenue location. Fresh Direct has operated in Long Island City since 1999.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to fill that place with another job creator,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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