NEW YORK CITY—Online grocer FreshDirect brokeground Monday on its long-awaited new headquarters facility in theSouth Bronx. The relocation from Long Island Cityin Queens will keep the company's 3,000 jobs, and tax ratables, inthe city, but a $128-million package of state and municipalincentives announced in 2012 to keep FreshDirect from moving to NewJersey drew criticism from politicians, including then-mayoralcandidate Bill de Blasio. The mayor did not attendMonday's ceremony, although he has not spoken publicly about theincentives since taking office.

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Published reports say that the groundbreaking ceremony, attendedby State Sen. Ruben Diaz and his son, BronxBorough President Ruben Diaz Jr., drew a handfulof protesters. Demonstrators from South BronxUnite turned out to express their concern that deliverytrucks entering and leaving the new 500,000-square-foot facility atthe Harlem River Yard would exacerbate the neighborhood's existingair-quality issues. The company has promised to begin converting toelectric-powered trucks, and the new facility will include chargingstations for the fleet.

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However, the borough president expressed his support. “Thisproject represents new jobs, and new development, and is a keycomponent of our 'New Bronx' agenda,” Diaz said in a statement.“FreshDirect has cleared every hurdle placed in its way, andtoday's groundbreaking puts the company on the fast track to theirfuture Bronx relocation. I'm proud to support FreshDirect, and Ilook forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the companyand the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. to put even moreBronx residents to work.”

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Noting that “New York is in our DNA,” FreshDirect CEOJason Ackerman says the relocation is “animportant milestone for our company, allowing us to process ordersmore efficiently, expand our fresh food options and make onlinegrocery shopping more convenient for our customers.” The projectwill house the company's corporate headquarters, as well as itsfood manufacturing and distribution facility, and FreshDirect saysit will add up to 1,000 jobs to the existing employee base. Thefacility is slated for completion in late 2016.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.