Seward Park Co-op Residents Protest Potential Chain Stores

Roots & Vines, 409 Grand St., shuttered last month. It may be destined for rebirth as a Dunkin' Donuts.
Roots & Vines, 409 Grand St., shuttered last month. It may be destined for rebirth as a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Rumors circulating among Grand Street residents about the possibility of two corporate chains moving into commercial storefronts owned by the Seward Park Co-op are generating a wave of backlash and an online petition in opposition.

Word on the street this weekend was that the Grand Spa at 403 Grand St. and the recently shuttered Roots & Vines cafe three doors down would be converted to a 24-hour 7-Eleven convenience store and a Dunkin’ Donuts, respectively.

This morning, protesters launched a drive to collect signatures; as of 2:15 p.m. they had gathered 91 supporters.

From the petition:

In just a few days, Seward Park Coop is slated to sign leases for 7 Eleven and Dunkin Donuts to open their stores in the Grand Spa and previous Roots and Vines location.  We have 2-3 days to stop this!!  We the undersigned shareholders of Seward Park Cooperative and other neighborhood residents have formed this petition to address our opposition to Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven chain stores being brought to the Seward Park commercial spaces, as managed by Charles H. Greenthal & Co. We oppose commercial saturation in our retail strip and believe we should limit the distance of retail establishments that offer the same type of goods to at least 1,000 feet of each other.  We are concerned that with the expanding population of young children in the immediate area and the problem of childhood obesity on the rise, the inexpensive, junk food options sold by these establishments will have a harmful impact on our children’s health and well-being.  We strongly prefer establishments that offer more healthy, natural and organic food options.  We are concerned that corporately-owned chain stores in the Seward Park retail strip is inconsistent with the independent retail establishments that populate our properties. We are concerned that chain stores will have a chilling effect on property values as the establishments degrade the character and appeal of the neighborhood for both longtime and new residents.

The petition goes on to call for the board of directors of the 1,700-unit complex to solicit and consider shareholders’ feedback on the potential commercial tenants. Chain stores have been migrating into the Lower East Side for some time: Papa John’s pizza opened earlier this year just west of Seward Park, joining a Subway sandwich shop that’s been around for a couple of years. Convenience store 7-Eleven has generated plenty of protest in the neighboring East Village recently.