More than one year after Pathmark made its last sale from its 3795 Nostrand Avenue location, the building remains vacant, political leadership to bring a new supermarket to the site appears to have dried up, and residents are fuming about the lack of nearby options to shop for their families.
The business closed its doors for good on April 15, 2011, as the parent company, A&P, filed for bankruptcy and closed numerous locations across the nation. More than 100 employees were put out of work by the closing, and it eliminated the only supermarket within walking distance for many nearby residents.
Local elected officials, including Congressman Anthony Weiner, Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator Carl Kruger and Councilmembers Lew Fidler and Mike Nelson, held a press conference at the site in February 2011 to announce a joint effort to bring another supermarket to the 35,000-square-foot location. Unfortunately, since they made that promise to local residents, many of them have been preoccupied or no longer represent the community.
Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned from office last August following a sex-ting scandal; when Sheepshead Bites asked representatives for Weiner’s replacement, Bob Turner, about the issue, they were unaware of the situation. State Senator Carl Kruger left office last December in the wake of federal bribery charges and is expected to be sentenced this month. Meanwhile, Fidler’s attentions appear to have been swept up in his campaign to succeed Kruger, though his office asserts it regularly seeks updates on the location.
Markowitz, who is term-limited and will depart from the Borough President’s office at the end of 2012, is keeping an eye on the situation, his office told Sheepshead Bites.
“The Borough President feels strongly there should be a grocery store with fresh food options at the former Pathmark location, and our office continues to work with the landlord and community leaders, and has full confidence that Lefrak will find a suitable replacement,” a spokesperson said.
Although Fidler and the beep’s office may be keeping tabs on the situation, even engaging in a letter-writing campaign to supermarket operators throughout the city, it has not yet helped seal a deal on the space.
The property owner, Lefrak, said interest has remained strong despite a year on the market.
“We have definite interest in the space from major supermarkets and are trying to work out a mutually satisfactory situation,” a Lefrak Organization spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites.
Finding out what companies have shown interest, though, has proven to be a challenge for this reporter and the local politicians.
“The Lefrak Organization is hesitant to reveal who they speak with concerning the site,” said an anonymous political source involved in the initiative. The source added that they avoid discussing prospective tenants until an agreement is confirmed.
Part of the problem of bringing a new tenant has been legal. Because it still owned the lease, A&P was first tasked with bringing in a new tenant during the bankruptcy proceedings, which extended throughout last summer. Since then, marketing the site has reverted to the property owners.
A quick turnaround of the property could also be delayed if a new tenant decides to refurbish the store’s interior, which means painstakingly removing the fixtures left behind by Pathmark, or if it opts to transform the entire structure.
Nelson, who is also term-limited in 2013, pointed out that the number of inquiries about a replacement for Pathmark has dwindled in the past 12 months, but at one time he estimated it was about a dozen a week. He added that constituents still ask about it when calling his district office on other matters.
“As a matter of fact,” Nelson said, “a few years ago when Pathmark ended its 24-hour operation on Nostrand Avenue, several constituents specifically called us to complain because it was inconvenient for them”
Nelson said his office has “reached out on our own to big-box supermarkets since Pathmark departed, but, when the economy was in downturn last year, there was no headway in convincing anyone to set up shop at the site.”
Now that the economy appears to be bouncing back, Nelson and his staff “have not given up and regularly pursue potential tenants,” he said.
Meanwhile, local residents are frustrated and impatient by the apparent lack of progress.
“I miss Pathmark,” said one seven-year resident of 2533 Batchelder Street, who asked not to be identified by name. “Now my husband and I get in the car and drive to another supermarket to do our weekly grocery shopping. When Pathmark was there, I’d walk a few blocks and bring a few bags home in my grocery cart.”
“There have been so many stores there since I came to the area in 1967,” said a resident of 3020 Avenue Y. ”I think it was a Penn Fruit, a Hills, Waldbaum’s and then Pathmark. I don’t understand why no one has been able to succeed for more than a few years.”