FreshDirect has scrapped plans to build a parking lot for its trucking operations on a three-acre parcel on the Harlem River Yard property where it plans to relocate. Instead, the food delivery company says it will keep its trucks on a larger parcel closer to where its new 500,000 square foot central facility would be built.
The company announced in a written statement on Dec. 14 that, by giving up the three-acre parcel, it hopes “to streamline and make our operations more efficient” while “addressing a number of concerns expressed by residents arising from the proximity of our trucks.”
The brief statement said the scale-back would not affect the company’s stated goal “of hiring 1,000 employees and moving to a 100 percent green transportation fleet.”
But an attorney representing citizens group South Bronx Unite, which filed suit in June to stop the project, called the company’s claim it is responding to community demands “absurd.”
“They can try to spin it any way they like, this doesn’t change one bit the truck-intensive nature” of the project, said Christina Giorgio of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
Giorgio said FreshDirect’s change of plans is a sign the company is “backpedaling” after realizing it would be in violation of zoning regulations if it followed through with plans to develop the parcel, and are an indication the company’s environmental assessment of the property was inadequate.
But Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hailed the announcement.
“By slightly modifying their project and moving their trucks further away from a residential area, FreshDirect has demonstrated that they are, indeed, listening to the concerns of the community” he said, adding the company now delivers to Bronx residents, accepts food stamps and will create jobs for residents.