NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn community is rallying around a staple grocery store that is being forced to close.
The property owner argues its lease expired and a new supermarket will go in its place. However, as some longtime residents expressed to CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis, they fear this will only push them out of the community.
“It’s easy for us to get here,” said Joan Ali of Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
“You have to realize there’s a lot of people in the neighborhood that have public assistance. They accept EBT cards and everything here, so when you close it what are those families gonna do?” another person said.
It’s a question many community members are asking, following news the supermarket could soon be gone.
When its lease expired last June, a month-to-month agreement was made with the property owner. But following back and forth between two parties, the store was served a 30-day notice to vacate and then was hit with a lawsuit.
“We’ve provided a hardship declaration to the landlord’s attorney,” attorney Matthew W. Lizotte said.
Lizotte represents Associated Supermarket and its owner, who employs about 35 people.
“He has been here with his employees day one since the pandemic started and he’s looking to keep serving the community as long as he’s permitted,” Lizotte said.
By Thursday afternoon, an online petition to save the supermarket reached nearly 5,000 signatures.
DeAngelis spoke to the woman behind it.
“We’re not telling the owner that he can’t do what he needs to do with his property. What we’re saying is, we’re in a pandemic right now and the seniors who depend on this location, walking distance, where are they gonna go?” said Vivia Morgan, a candidate for City Council in the 40th District.
The property owners, Midwood Investment and Development, wouldn’t go on camera. A spokesperson said the tenant has known about redevelopment plans for years, adding it plans to bring, “much-needed affordable housing and a new, larger supermarket to serve the neighborhood.”
“You put up all these high-rises and no one can afford to rent in them,” Ali said.
“They’re pushing out the residents in this community,” Morgan added.
It’s concern in other communities, as well, that brought to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“There has to be some kind of government intervention on a bigger level here to protect the services that working people depend on,” de Blasio said.
“We want to see our community grow, but we want to be a part of it,” Morgan said.
The hope is all parties can come to the table to best serve the community.
A spokesperson for the property owner shot down any suggestions that a luxury tower will go up in the supermarket’s place.
To read the petition, please click here.