Associated closing in Stuyvesant Town

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town on East 14th Street will likely be closing by the end of this year, StuyTown general manager Rick Hayduk announced in an email to residents last Friday afternoon.

Hayduk noted in the message that management has been working with the store in an attempt to keep the market open through the holiday season, including by offering free rent, but the store reportedly still would not be able to guarantee that it could stay open through the end of the year.

The owners told management that the competitive environment for supermarkets, both locally and due to online ordering, led them to the decision to close.

Norman Quintanilla, who has been the manager at the store for the last 16 years, told Town & Village on Tuesday that they have notified employees that the last day would be December 10, but the store will likely end up closing by the end of November.

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

City’s plan will hurt Stuy Cove

In response to the ad in the September 5 issue of T&V, the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association received a number of comments and questions. The following letter has been sent to elected representatives in Washington, Albany and New York. The SCPA thanks to all those who took the time to contact them.

On Monday, October 21, the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association will hold its annual Friends of Stuyvesant Cove Park meeting. The meeting will take place at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center, located at 449 East 16th Street. Among our agenda items is the planned razing of Stuyvesant Cove Park as part of the East Coast Resiliency Project.

It is the opinion of this body that the planned destruction and modification of the park, a project estimated to deprive the community use of the park for two years or more, will do nothing to prevent flooding in Stuyvesant Cove Park in the future. In addition, despite the surge in 2012, regular park-goers observed that within months, most of the flora was alive and well, with only a few exceptions, and within six months, you would not know anything had happened. All this in spite of the fact that the park had been under four feet of river water.

We understand that funds are being provided by the federal government. However, spending money simply because it is available should not be confused with justification and we are in total disagreement with the city’s decision to choose years of construction, hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and no discernible new protections for the park itself. Moreover, Stuyvesant Cove Park’s natural resiliency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy proves that this is an ill-conceived over reaction to this event.

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Street restoration begins on East 14th Street

Construction crews were out on East 14th Street on Tuesday morning removing barricades from an island near the front of the Associated Supermarket adjacent to the L train worksite. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Side residents may soon be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the L project—or at least across East 14th Street. The MTA noted in a newsletter sent out on Saturday that street restoration began on the Manhattan side for the L project over the weekend, meaning that construction crews would begin packing up and restoring a section of the street and sidewalk, clearing up some of the above-ground construction at the site in front of the Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town.

The construction management team working on the project said that street restoration means that the crew will reconstruct the street, sidewalk paving and trees back to the way it was before the project began.

“The biggest task is rebuilding the street itself,” the team said in the newsletter. “We’ll be doing that work ourselves, following very specific rules from the city [Department of Transportation].”

The process of street restoration includes multiple steps, beginning with dumping in backfill that is compressed with a heavy vibrating roller and tamping machines, followed by a base of concrete. An asphalt spreader will then move down the street with crews following to rake the asphalt even and to minimize traffic disruptions, this work is done at night.

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Senior mugged for plastic bottles outside Associated

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a man for stealing a bag of plastic bottles from a senior in front of the Associated at 409 East 14th Street on Friday, July 19 around 3:45 p.m.

The 72-year-old victim was returning plastic bottles for the deposit outside the store when 48-year-old John Thompson approached him and grabbed the bag from his hand, attempting to remove it by force.

The victim told police that he asked Thompson to give him the bag back and Thompson responded by allegedly punching him in the face and knocking him to the ground before fleeing the scene.

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Letters to the editor, June 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

From ShopRite to shopper shuttles

Dear Editor,

I would like to add to the conversation regarding a supermarket on East 14th Street off First Avenue.

First let me say how pleased I am with the service, responsiveness, attitude and tone provided by our new owners and management. Kudos to them for taking into consideration tenants’ needs and interests. I am fortunate to have a car and therefore shop in Brooklyn. However, I “fill in” with items purchased at our local grocers. I understand why many people no longer purchase some items because of the exaggerated prices, sometime double what I pay in Brooklyn. Double.

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Letters to the Editor

June8 Toon Mr Met

Save our supermarket

The following is an open letter to Stuyvesant Town Property Services CEO/Stuy Town General Manager Rick Hayduk,

As a 41-year long resident of Stuyvesant Town, I am writing to ask you to reconsider Blackstone’s determination to raise the rent against the Associated Supermarket on 14 th Street, causing them to leave our neighborhood.

It is most distressing that almighty profit once again outweighs the value that that market has had in our neighborhood for 25 years.

When I first learned that the store would open there, I was dubious. However, they have been able to run the store and the multiple complications connected with that with a minimum of disruption to us… despite the load in of product, the removal of garbage and the acceptance of bottles from street collectors.

The store’s employees are like family to us… we have seen them get their first job, pay for college, get married, take maternity leave and return, and have a decent job for these many years.

That has been an invaluable commitment on the store owners’ parts, creating a special feeling for those of us who have shopped there.

I know this letter won’t change your mind or the direction your negotiations take.

But I hope it makes you a little less able to look yourself in the mirror.

Sincerely, 

Lynne Hayden-Findlay, ST

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Tenants Association asks Blackstone to keep Associated in Stuy Town

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

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.

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Hoylman takes aim at ‘high rent blight’

Various empty storefronts in State Senator Brad Hoylman’s District, the subject of his recent study, “Bleaker on Bleecker” (Photo collage courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district includes Stuyvesant Town, Gramercy, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, recently conducted a study that found a high percentage of vacant storefronts in the district, with some retail corridors about 10 percent vacant and on Bleecker Street, a vacancy rate of 18.4 percent.

This is no breaking news to area residents of course; but the senator’s study “Bleaker on Bleecker,” which focuses on what’s been dubbed “high rent blight,” has led to his offering a few proposals to combat the problem.

In particular, the phenomenon of landlords of choosing to keep a space vacant “suggests waiting for Marc Jacobs instead of renting to Jane Jacobs,” the study quotes economist Tim Wu as saying.

The study also mentions the closure last year of the Chelsea Associated Supermarket, which had seen its $32,000 rent jump by $100,000. The now-shuttered store had the same owners as the Associated in Stuyvesant Town, the future of which is still murky.

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Stuyvesant Town Associated is still waiting for answer on lease renewal

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.

Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.

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Stuy Town Associated owner: Why supermarkets are struggling

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When the owners of the Associated Supermarket on West 14th Street announced that they will probably not be able to stay in business, thanks to a $100,000 rent increase, neighbors jammed the sidewalk outside for a protest, as did politicians. But the fight was about more than just one supermarket; it was what has become a familiar pattern of supermarkets and other businesses struggling to remain in their spaces throughout the city. The main reason for this seems to be rent, with building owners either imposing astronomical increases or refusing to negotiate entirely in the hope of getting a tenant that will pay substantially more, like a bank.

Joseph Falzon, principal owner of the Associated Supermarket in Chelsea as well as in Stuyvesant Town, has been dealing with both situations at both of those stores, respectively. (However, Blackstone has at least been willing to speak with him, unlike the company’s predecessor.)

When asked for his thoughts on the murky future being faced by local supermarkets, Falzon said what it all comes down to is that supermarkets simply can’t withstand steep increases at pretty much any location. The reason? It’s a business where the margin of profit is simply too low.

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 17

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Affordability has been paid into by residents

Re: Letter, “’Entitled’ to affordability?”, T&V Nov. 26

I hope that the comments that I made on a Blackstone survey might keep Associated, an affordable and well-run supermarket, in our community. This would save the jobs of its many employees and prevent them from being among the “proud-to-be poor” that Benita Therock described in her letter.

In her letter, Therock also bitterly and benightedly refers to ST-PCV rent-stabilized tenants as being “proud to be poor.” She claimed that we “lack the pride and dignity to carry our own weight.”

I suspect that most stabilized tenants are like me. We came to ST-PCV as young couples and young singles with careers decades ago. We have carried our weight as residents of this community. We worked, paid our taxes, voted, raised families, participated in a variety of ST-PCV events, donated and volunteered at local schools, religious institutions, and at community-based charities. We spent our weekends cheering on our kids at Little League and soccer games, just like other Americans across this country.

Some of us long-time residents have gown older. We retired, and despite our savings, our money doesn’t go quite as far as before. But through rent-stabilization, we are fortunate to be residents in the ST-PCV community and in New York, the city that we’ve worked for, lived in and loved. This is home.

Name withheld, ST

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CW made Associated offer to end lease early

The Associated’s owners recently closed a Third Avenue Met Foods supermarket. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The owners of the Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town — who, as Town & Village reported last month — were losing faith they’d be given a lease renewal by CWCapital, finally got that elusive phone call from the landlord.

It just wasn’t the one they wanted.

The offer? Take three quarters of a million dollars to walk away before the lease even ends in two years, one source with knowledge of the situation told Town & Village. However, the store’s principal owner Joseph Falzon felt he could make more if he rode out the rest of the lease term.

Falzon had told Town & Village in September that he hadn’t gotten an answer about renewal for over a year with CW declining to talk business, while Falzon wanted to make sure the franchise had a future before investing in a much-needed renovation. Meanwhile, he said he was told a competing supermarket had offered CW double the rent he was paying, now around $60,000, only to be denied.
Reached on the phone last Thursday (prior to the property being sold), Falzon confirmed he’d gotten an offer to leave early and that he wasn’t interested in doing so.

“We plan to stay unless something drastic happens,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned we’re here until the end of the lease.”

A renovation won’t happen, though, since Falzon said “it wouldn’t pay” for only two more years at the location.

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Sick of Ave. C looking like Swiss cheese

A reader sent this letter to Town & Village last Tuesday about traffic problems during ongoing work along Avenue C. A response from the DOT and Con Ed follows.

Avenue C has been torn up for over three weeks, between at least 20th Street and 14th Street. I assume this is done by the DOT but I’m not certain of it.

In any case how can any responsible agency be permitted to tear up a major access road (this stretch serves as both means of entry and exit for the East River Drive) and leave it in the condition of a veritable mine field? It’s beyond reason. Traffic is slowed to a crawl and vehicles are swerving left and right to avoid major pot holes, exposed sewer covers and gas vents. (On what had been a level street to begin with, I traverse the area daily and there were no issues with this street.) Vehicle and pedestrian safety are severely compromised.

One evening last week, Con Edison employed the use of traffic cones and security guards on both 16th and 14th Streets to secure parking for their employees on the Stuyvesant Town perimeter. I believe this was done due to the congestion caused by no parking on Avenue C. Is this legal? And to top it off, that same night DOT (?) was tearing up the intersection at 14th Street and First Avenue.

What’s going on here? Why is our neighborhood being taxed so severely by poorly coordinated city services and an out of control power company? If street work is necessary, fine. Tear it up as needed but don’t leave it in this condition for weeks (months?) at a time.

Demolition/tear-up should not be permitted unless the repairs are to be made immediately. Is this so contractors can start as many jobs as possible and then get back to them when they see fit? Who is responsible for this? The public is not being well served.

Name withheld, ST

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Catering to a diverse senior population

Re: Letter, “What’s wrong with Bingo?”, T&V, Oct. 8, which was in response to the story, “Thai PM’s wife impressed by active seniors here,” T&V, Oct. 1

In response to Mr. Menchini’s letter of October 8th, I am sorry if it appeared that I was a “pompous elitist” in saying that the people who come to Stein are not the Bingo and Atlantic City crowd.

I have been running programs for seniors for 35 years and it has been a different experience here. We tried to start Bingo a few years back because I know it is stimulating and fun for many people. There wasn’t any interest at the time. We also asked our members if they would like us to set up trips to AC and they said they weren’t interested as well.

We do have a wide range of activities from Feldenkrais to Zumba to Yiddish club, computer classes, parties, trips, early stage dementia program, legal clinic, tax prep and much more. I believe there is something for everybody here and I apologize if it seemed otherwise.

One of our long-time members dubbed Stein, “A Center for the Humanities.” It is not my priorities, but a diverse array of activities and services that are needed in the community.  If a program is not well-attended, it won’t be continued.

Does Mr. Menchini know what we offer at Stein? Each senior program has its own personality and Stein is different than many in that respect. Shakespeare class has been taught by the same teacher for 22 years and opera appreciation long before I arrived in 2008. The classes are attended by 30 to 50 people weekly.

Jane Barry, Executive Director, Stein Center

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Woman’s bag swiped at Associated

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday afternoon, a Stuyvesant Town woman had her tote bag snatched as she shopped at the Associated supermarket on East 14th Street.

The woman, who asked that her name not be published, said her bag disappeared at around 12:40 p.m. when she briefly put down her shopping basket with the tote inside to take a carton of ice cream out of the freezer. She said she believes this is when it was taken because she’d gone to the store for the sole purpose of getting her Blue Bunny fix. On her way to checkout for the one item she realized her basket no longer contained her bag.

She then approached a manager and assistant manager who she said were very helpful and searched the store, soon finding the tote on the opposite side in the coffee aisle. Her wallet, however, containing $125 in cash, her credit cards and IDs, including her Stuy Town key-card and Medicare card, were gone. She said she didn’t notice anyone around her while shopping.

She’d made the trip during midday intentionally. “I wanted to avoid the kids,” she quipped, adding that she contacted T&V to warn neighbors.

“It can happen in a split second,” the resident said. “How long does it take to open the door and pull out the ice cream, maybe three or four seconds?”

An employee at the store told T&V there are no surveillance cameras at the store, and no one saw the perp. However, a couple of detectives did pay the store a visit on Monday with regards to the incident.