By Sabina Mollot
With the future of Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket once again up in the air, following Morton Williams’ decision not to sign a lease for the space, the ST-PCV Tenants Association has asked Blackstone to let the Associated stay.
The request was made over the Tenants Association’s concern that with a Trader Joe’s store as well as a Target eventually moving across the street from Stuyvesant Town, Blackstone would no longer feel obligated to keep an affordable supermarket in the complex, as the owner had committed to previously. But, the TA is arguing, Trader Joe’s, with its unusual and somewhat curated range of products, doesn’t offer a “complete grocery experience.”
The plea was made via a letter from Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg to Stuyvesant Town’s General Manager Rick Hayduk on Monday.
“I’m not sure to what degree you have ever shopped in either Trader Joe’s or Target, but these retailers do not provide the complete grocery experience that an Associated or Morton Williams do,” said Steinberg. “Trader Joe’s is good for shoppers seeking gluten-free, vegan or organic products. Except for certain fruit and vegetables, their produce is pre-packaged. They do not have fresh meat and fish, are limited in popular items, such as sodas (i.e., you can’t go in there for club soda or seltzer, or other commonly purchased sodas), and you can’t even buy just plain rice. Paper products are in very limited supply. Target is great for sodas, snacks and canned or packaged items, and has a good supply of paper products, but they are limited as to fresh offerings. Neither of those stores offers a deli or salad bar or hot food to go.”
Steinberg added that she found it “strange” that Morton Williams pulled the plug on its plan to move to Stuy Town because of the Trader Joe’s and Target moving to the south side of 14th Street (in the former Post Office site and the Extell development, respectively).
“The customer base is different for all three retailers,” she argued, adding that the TA has heard from many residents who want to keep the Associated specifically.
In fact, the Tenants Association recently organized a petition to save the supermarket that got a total of 2,356 signatures, according to Steinberg.
In her letter, she added, “The enthusiasm to maintain our Associated Supermarket is not just about the price point. Many seniors have expressed how friendly the staff are and how the store goes out of its way to provide extra little services for them. When the construction of the new L Train entrance at Avenue A commences, seniors and the mobility impaired will have even more of a challenge to access a nearby store. Just crossing to the south side of 14th Street in a construction zone could endanger them. We need a reliable, affordable grocery store on the premises.”
Reached at the store, Joseph Falzon, one of the owners of Associated, said he still hasn’t heard any news with regards to his lease, which is up at the end of the year. He also said previously he suspected Trader Joe’s would take one third to one half of Associated’s business. Associated pays around $60,000 in rent and Falzon said he believed that Morton Williams would have paid double that amount.
Asked about the Tenants Association’s letter, Marynia Kruk, community affairs manager for StuyTown Property Services, said management hasn’t yet made a decision yet about what to do with the space.
“Stuy Town Property Services has received the TA’s letter dated June 5th. SPS is reviewing both short-term and long-term options for the 14th Street space currently occupied by Associated,” Kruk said.