We have a few more details this morning concerning the closing of the Pathmark store at 227 Cherry Street. Last week, Pathmark told us that the Lower East Side location would shut down at end of the year because the company was “relinquishing (its long-term) lease to accommodate a large scale residential development and improvement project.”
Thia week, the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council is planning a rally on Cheery Street to “express the neighborhood’s concern about the loss of this important resource to elected officials, policy makers, the Pathmark Corporation and the developer; and to develop an interim solution until a permanent affordable supermarket and pharmacy is re-established in this location.”
The council was the sponsor of the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area, as well as the original sponsor of the grocery store. Last night, residents living in Two Bridges buildings attended an informational meeting led by Victor Papa, the organization’s long-term president. “We don’t want to see Pathmark go but we have very little to say about the matter,” he said. “But we must make sure (the developer and Pathmark) hear us… We’re going to make some noise about what this community requires.”
When Pathmark opened in the early 80’s, it made a commitment to operate the grocery store for 25 years. That commitment has now expired and the corporation, which recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, was free to sell its lease. While the organization can’t be sure, a lot of people seem convinced that one of Manhattan’s most powerful real estate moguls, Gary Barnett of Extell Development, has acquired the Pathmark lease. Papa noted that the developer, whomever he may be, also has the rights to Pathmark’s lease in a separate one-story building where its pharmacy is located. That building is controlled by the Two Bridges organization. Papa said conversations are ongoing with Pathmark to keep the pharmacy open beyond the end of December, when the grocery store is scheduled to close.
It’s believed a grocery store will be part of the new luxury complex planned for the site, at the corner of Cherry and Pike streets. Pathmark has the right to re-open in the new development if it chooses to do so. But it’s feared the developer will end up going with a high-end grocery such as Whole Foods. Papa has heard estimates that the community would be without a large grocery for about two years, although it seems unlikely a large-scale development would be ready for occupancy so quickly. The site could accommodate over one-million square feet. Previous reports have suggested one or two towers of at least 50 stories might be in Cherry Street’s future. “Families in this neighborhood require affordable groceries.” Papa said. “People with low incomes are fed up with big developers coming in and taking over.”
The rally will take place Wednesday at 11 a.m., in front of the store. Local elected officials have been invited. In the past several days, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer have all released statements in support of the residents.