The Associated supermarket in Crown Heights must vacate within 30 days
Uncertainty over the future of the Associated supermarket in Crown Heights continues this week. The owners of the discount grocery store received a 30-day notice to vacate the premises this week, following ongoing protests, online petitions, and claims that the supermarket’s closure would leave parts of of Crown Heights in a food desert. The supermarket was previously issued a 90-day notice to vacate the premises.
Pablo Espinal, owner of the Associated store, has been operating on a month-to-month basis since his most recent lease expired in June 2020. A spokesperson for Midwood Investment and Development, the owner of the property, tells Bklyner that the company offered Espinal $300,000 and the right of first offer on the new supermarket space planned for the development so long as he vacated the property by the end of July. He declined the offer.
“I was never offered a guarantee to come back into the new development. The right of first offer is not a commitment to allow the supermarket to come back,” Espinal tells Eater in an email. “My goal is to continue to serve the community, and I would happy to sign a long-term lease with the developer to continuing [sic] serving the community.”
The imminent closure has prompted protests and online petitions in recent weeks, and attracted the attention of elected officials in both Crown Heights and Albany. There are other supermarkets within a one mile walking distance — a Foodtown on Franklin Avenue, a Western Beef on Empire Boulevard, and an upscale Lincoln Market — but locals worry the neighborhood’s selection of inexpensive grocery options is on the decline. In February, Midwood said it planned to construct a new, expanded supermarket in place of Associated, a move that some residents criticized, pointing to the newly constructed, more expensive supermarkets that have accompanied developments in other neighborhoods.
If Associated does not vacate the premises within 30 days, Midwood “will seek court intervention and pursue all available damages,” which could amount to “millions upon millions of dollars,” according to a notice from the retail company.
— Tanay Warerkar contributed reporting
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— There’s still time to delete this: