Earlier today, a big crowd turned out in front of the Pathmark, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, to protest the store’s decision to close at the end of the year to make room for a large residential development. A rally organized by the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council was attended by local elected officials, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
“We are here today to make our voices loud and clear,” Silver said. We will not stand by and allow our seniors and families to lose access to a local affordable supermarket.” On September 28, we reported that the Pathmark at 227 Cherry Street and its pharmacy next door would shutter at the end of the year. Residents suspect Gary Barnett’s Extell Development plans a luxury apartment complex on the site, with a high-end grocery store, but there has been no confirmation. Last week, elected officials sent a letter to Pathmark and to property owner F. Roy Schoenberg in hopes of keeping the store open longer. So far, there has been no response.
At today’s rally, Victor Papa of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council announced that the organization had “engaged the services” of community-oriented consultant Urbane Development to come up with short-term and long-term “solutions that will make our neighborhood, its food system and its economy, more resilient.” The council was the sponsor of the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area, which led to the construction of hundreds of units of affordable housing. It also helped attract Pathmark to the neighborhood, securing a 25-year commitment from the company (since expired) to serve the Lower East Side community.
Two Bridges Board Chair Frank Modica called Pathmark a “life source.” Referring to a resident who’s turning 98 this month and relies on the store, he asked, “where is she going to go?” Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, said, “it’s totally unacceptable not to have fresh food in this community.” City Council member Margaret Chin added, “we can’t allow this to happen. The developer must know what our needs are.” Nancy Ortiz, tenant president at the Vladeck Houses asked, “how much more does this community need to endure from these developers?” Silver led the group in chanting, “Save our Pathmark!”
The Pathmark site is surrounded by public and subsidized housing. A lot of people fear a Whole Foods or some other upscale chain will end up occupying the ground floor of the new residential development. Barnett is known for over-the-top luxury projects. Some units in his new thousand foot tower in Midtown are priced at $90 million. Lower East Side community leaders may have little leverage on Cherry Street, although Two Bridges does own the portion of the Pathmark site where the pharmacy is located.
Papa said Two Bridges planned to schedule a community meeting sometime soon to discuss “next steps.”
Today’s rally included remarks from: State Senator Dan Squadron, former Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin, Good Old Lower East Side Executive Director Damaris Reyes and Esther Wang of CAAAV.