Extell Development will not complete construction on One Manhattan Square, its 80-story tower in the Two Bridges neighborhood until 2019. But an accompanying affordable complex featuring 204 rentals at 229 Cherry St. is scheduled to open in two to three months.
Even though residents will be moving in sometime during the second quarter of this year, Extell has been silent about plans to establish an affordable grocery store on the ground floor of 229 Cherry. The massive project is, of course, being built on the former site of a Pathmark store, which was forced to close more than five years ago. Extell executives have publicly promised on several occasions to replace the Pathmark with another supermarket. Last April, Extell’s Raizy Haas told residents that her team was still trying to find an affordable grocery. “We are in communication with several supermarkets and will be providing an update at the appropriate time,” said Haas.
The other day we checked in with Extell spokesperson George Arzt, who said there is “no update” on the quest for a grocery in the fresh food desert that is the Two Bridges neighborhood. He said there is nothing to report about any of the commercial spaces at 229 Cherry.
Last spring, neighborhood activists with a local advocacy group, Tenants United Fighting For Lower East Side (TUFF-LES), wrote a letter to Extell honcho Gary Barnett about the grocery store. In the past few days, a leader of that organization, Marc Richardson said, “We expect Extell to remain faithful to their commitments made to the Two Bridges community by providing an affordable supermarket that will fill the vacuum created by the loss of the Pathmark Supermarket.” He added, “We think it’s only reasonable to expect that Extell would be interested in being fully transparent to our community and keep us up to date regarding their efforts in restoring this very important resource.”
We also spoke with local elected officials about the situation. Back in 2013, former State Sen. Daniel Squadron, former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and City Councilmember Margaret Chin said they had received a commitment from Extell for a grocery. Silver’s successor Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou told us this week, “Extell can only kick the can down the road for so long. That’s why we are calling on them to present a transparent plan to secure an affordable supermarket for our Lower East Side community, per their commitment. The clock is ticking as their project nears completion, and we want to ensure our community is not surprised with the last minute, top-down decision to place a luxury market in the middle of a working-class neighborhood.”
A spokesperson for Councilmember Chin, Marian Guerra added, “Council Member Chin’s position has not wavered on this issue. Since the shuttering of Pathmark, Two Bridges residents have been fighting for better access to affordable, fresh produce. Now with more working families slated to move into the affordable units, Council Member Chin urges Extell to honor their commitment to meet this growing need and bring a new affordable supermarket to the community. We will continue to hold the developer to this promise.”
State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who recently succeeded Squadron in Albany, said, “Access to affordable groceries, including fresh produce, is essential for livable, healthy communities — and a full service supermarket is an important part of achieving that… Extell made a promise to this neighborhood, and I intend to work with the community and my colleagues in government to do whatever we can to hold them to that commitment.”