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Comptroller Liu Claims City Is "Held Hostage" By FreshDirect To Deliver On Tax Breaks

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TWC News: Comptroller Liu Claims City Is "Held Hostage" By FreshDirect To Deliver On Tax Breaks
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FreshDirect got its own delivery Tuesday in the form of millions of dollars in tax breaks from the city, but the deal has sparked controversy in the Bronx for over a year and City Comptroller John Liu says it is bad economic policy. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

FreshDirect is busy in Long Island City, but not for long.

"Because we got to take care of the people. We got to feed the people," said a FreshDirect driver.

In 2016, the company plans to move from Queens to a site in the South Bronx.

On Tuesday, the New York City Industrial Development Agency voted in the Port Morris section of the Bronx to approve millions upon millions of dollars in tax subsidies to help pay for it.

The approval turned into a face-off between some Bronx residents and high-ranking officials on the board.

Marlene Cintron of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation told the rowdy audience, "You wanted me to talk, so why don't you shut up? You want me to say something, then shut up."

One audience member said, "How can you even do this? You are rushing it through."

Another audience member said, "We are black and brown. That's why you are doing it, Pinsky. You are a bunch of racists."

Coupled with state tax breaks, the company is getting $127 million to move from Long Island City across the river. It is cash the city used to court the company, after FreshDirect threatened to move to New Jersey.

"That modest investment is going to secure $100 million in private investment. It's going to secure 2,000 jobs. It's going to bring 1,000 new jobs," said Seth Pinsky of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The city comptroller's office was the only vote against the tax breaks. Comptroller John Liu, a Democratic mayoral candidate, said he has other ideas for job creation.

"We cannot be held hostage to these companies that threaten to leave and therefore demand outlandish subsidies. We have to put an end to it. And Fresh Direct this is one we should have said no to," Liu said.

The comptroller has been a vocal opponent of the deal, unlike some of his opponents for City Hall.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, another Democratic mayoral candidate, said, "I know some folks are concerned about the subsidies but to have that company, A, employee more new yorkers, and B, be able to serve more parts of the city is an overall good thing for the city."

Opponents said they will continue to fight Fresh Direct, trying to prevent them from coming to the empty Bronx lot.

Meanwhile, FreshDirect officials said Tuesday's approval brings them one step closer to bringing their business to the South Bronx.

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