Last night, the Seward Park Co-op board of directors voted to approve a lease for 7-Eleven, clearing the way for the ubiquitous chain to open a new location at 403 Grand Street.
The board was poised to vote for 7-Eleven this past May, but a group of residents protested the move, prevailing upon their leadership to hold off while a search for alternative tenants was launched. The group contacted dozens of prospects and managed to find a business, Tribeca Pediatrics, for a neighboring storefront that was originally destined to become a Dunkin’ Donuts.
But for a variety of reasons none of the potential tenants for the larger space, once occupied by the Grand Spa, were accepted by the board. Among the complications: “no compete” clauses embedded in the leases of some existing tenants.
Seven board members voted in favor of the 7-Eleven proposal; four were opposed. Those who supported the signing of the lease, which runs for 10 years and includes options for renewal, said the chain offered the co-op financial security and worthwhile services. In recent years, the co-op has struggled to find stable businesses capable of paying their rent. Grand Spa was evicted after a long collections ordeal.
Opponents called the move short-sighted, pointing out that many Seward Park residents would prefer to see more “mom-and-pop” businesses in the retail spaces the co-op owns along Grand and Clinton streets. They argued that independent businesses would be more in character with the historic neighborhood and would ultimately add value to the cooperative, while chain stores could potentially harm property values.
Although the residents’ group had worked diligently to find prospective tenants, they concluded that an experienced commercial broker was needed to attract businesses for the retail spaces. Last night, board members heard a presentation from a commercial brokerage company, but decided against hiring the firm for the Grand Spa space. It’s still possible a broker could be hired for future vacancies.
Any day now, another 7-Eleven location will open at 142 Delancey Street, not far from the Grand Street space. In the past year, the chain has been aggressively expanding in Manhattan. Residents in the East Village have been less than thrilled about new 7-Eleven outlets on the Bowery, on St. Mark’s Place and on 14th Street.
In the past few days, Seward Park residents sent about 250 emails to board members urging them to reject the 7-Eleven offer. There are more than 1700 apartments in the sprawling complex.