Brooklyn supermarket closes as officials look for ways to avoid potential food desert

Brooklyn

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — Saturday marked the last day for the Associated Supermarket in Crown Heights, and as residents braced for what they called a soon-to-be food desert, city officials continued to work toward a resolution that will fill the community’s need for fresh produce.

The grocery store on Nostrand Avenue, near Empire Boulevard, was scheduled to close ahead of a construction project to redevelop the lot. 

Development company Midwood Investment & Development said a grocery store will eventually return to the ground floor of the planned residential building as now store owner Pablo Espinal has signed a 15-year lease to take at least 21,000 square feet in the development.

The new lease will take effect after the project’s completion, which may take years.

“The planned project for this site will not only preserve a beloved local grocery store, but also provide its customers with a larger, state-of-the-art space, along with much-needed affordable housing – all in place of a parking lot and obsolete market building,” a spokesperson for Midwood Investment & Development said. “We were pleased to work with the market’s owner to preserve and enhance an important resource for the community and a true neighborhood benefit for years to come.”

In the meantime, residents in the largely working-class Caribbean immigrant neighborhood, many of them elderly, will have to figure out a way to get their groceries because the next closest supermarket is more than a half-mile away. 

Residents and community leaders rallied outside the store last weekend, calling attention to the impending problem.

Dasia Williams, a member of an organization called Save Associated, called the supermarket’s closure “absolutely unjust.”

A spokesperson for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told PIX11 on Saturday they reached out to GrowNYC about setting up a farmers market while the lot is under development. 

In a letter to the non-profit organization, Adams said the supermarket’s closure would result in a “significant gap in food access.”

A request for comment from GrowNYC was not immediately returned.

A spokesman for Adams’ said his office also talked to the developer about the possibility of setting up a shuttle service to take older residents to the nearest grocery store, although nothing has been confirmed.

Anyone who has a complaint or issue related to the Associated Supermarket closing is encouraged to reach out the borough president’s office at 718-802-3700, or email askeric@brooklynbp.nyc.gov.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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