Two local supermarkets are on the brink of closing, and some people are mad as hell. But is there anything that can be done about it?
At Food Emporium on 68th and Broadway, the end is approaching quickly (May 4), and the store is now offering up to 80% off on certain items. But liquidation sales can be tricky, and we’ve already heard from a reader that the “discounts” don’t really seem like deals. Liquidation sales often take advantage of our desire for deals, even as the prices are not much lower than normal, as ABC News found out a few years ago.
At Food City on 94th and Columbus, the outlook is murkier. The market still plans to close at the end of this month, but there’s been growing political pressure on The Lefrak Organization, the owner of the building, to sign a new lease. Food City is the go-to supermarket for many elderly and low-income residents in the area. A rep for LeFrak sent us a statement earlier today (we had been attempting to get a response from them for the past few weeks). The statement reads:
“Food City has been our tenant at 705 Columbus Avenue for many years and has not been asked to leave. We have been in conversations with the City on plans to improve the physical and retail facilities at this location. The existing 50 year old facilities are outmoded and in nearly irreparable condition. We have no plans for condominium development or other residential uses, nor have we increased Food City’s rent since 2005. We await further feedback from the City on how we can work together to transform this important retail property into a vibrant asset that will serve this community for decades to come. Until that time, we cannot make multi-year commitments with our tenants.”
We asked the LeFrak rep if that means that Food City doesn’t have to leave, and why then would Food City be getting ready to close. The response was unclear: “Food City is under a month-to-month lease. Our statement speaks for itself, and, as regards your last question, we do not speak for Food City.”
Food City apparently hasn’t had a long-term lease since 2004.
We’ve reached out to Gale Brewer’s office to find out the implications of the statement and what the city can do in this case. We’ll update this post if we hear back.
Food City’s owners certainly seem to think they’re being evicted, as you can see in the interview below between Food City owner Adam Katz and City Council candidate Ken Biberaj.