The New York Times had a very interesting piece about the opposition to a supermarket in the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment.
BoogieDowner has stated this before, but opposition to a supermarket in the Armory in no way benefits the community. We agree, along with CB7 Chairman Greg Faulkner (as related in the Times' article) that many residents need to shop outside of the community to procure decent groceries. We applaud his request for a supermarket in the Armory redevelopment. CB7 is a supermarket desert; to say otherwise is a lie.
Morton Williams has thoroughly co-opted the community fervor in regards to the Armory redevelopment. MW's deep pockets have funded consultants, lawyers, and City Council members to try to defeat a supermarket at the Armory.
The living wage issue has taken a back seat. From this article it appears that Related is willing to give up on the supermarket, but not on the living wage issue. Wouldn't it be a travesty if the living wage goal went unmet, but somehow the supermarket was defeated, and some false community victory declared?
BoogieDowner has no knowledge of Morton Williams' compensation practices, but does it give all of its employees a living wage (i.e. $10/hr plus benefits)?
There is a moral argument to be made for the living wage issue (even if the practicality is suspect), but the only argument against a supermarket is Morton Williams' bottom line.
Here's a little quote that reveals Morton Williams' real intentions:
The supermarket fight is reminiscent of a battle waged a decade ago in East Harlem against the suburban-size and highly successful Pathmark store on 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. A crucial player in that struggle, Richard Lipsky, the lobbyist for the smaller markets that opposed Pathmark’s entry into East Harlem, is representing Morton Williams. In June, Mr. Lipsky’s office inadvertently sent reporters a memo to his clients in which he outlined a strategy for defeating the project or significantly modifying it “in a direction that is acceptable to Morton Williams’ interests.” [NY Times]Hmmm...Morton Williams' interests? What about the community's?
Update: Here's what Avi Kaner of Morton Williams had to say in the the comments section...We just wanted to highlight it so that no one misses it.
You're missing the point from Morton Williams' and the community's perspective.Update #2 10/2/09: Fernando Tirado, District Manager of Community Board 7, has checked in with the following statement:
Related’s Big Box food plans violate the terms of the city’s RFP which states “proposed commercial and retail uses must expand and enhance the current mix of retail offerings in the area, and endeavor to not duplicate or directly compete with the existing retail uses.” Suddenly, after Related was awarded the contract, it announced its intention to disregard this RFP requirement and instead plans a giant 60,000 square foot Big Box Supermarket or Warehouse Club in the armory that would have a catastrophic impact on our business and our company-wide hiring office across the street.
Related’s plan would represent a lethal blow to our two Bronx stores and many other local markets which would close as a result.
It will also be a punishing setback against the neighborhood with the elimination of many hundreds of Morton Williams union jobs - as our hiring and corporate office will be forced to move to a location outside of the Bronx where we have other stores.
To destroy our business with government subsidies is an outrage. The fact that taxes paid by businesses like ours will be used to subsidize a giant Big Box Supermarket or Warehouse Club magnifies the unfairness.
We are a good union employer that has been headquartered in the Kingsbridge community for over half a century, employing over 450 Kingsbridge area residents at any given time with full-time union jobs, health care, and other benefits. Many of our other 300 employees started out in this Bronx neighborhood. We are a leading private employer in the community with average wages that may be the highest for a private company in the area. Our payroll is $400,000 a week with 100% of our employees working full time.
We continuously update our stores with the most modern equipment and merchandising. We carry fresh and healthy foods, including an expanded selection of organic items as requested by Community Board 7.
We have never taken a penny in City subsidies. Now the City wants to use our tax dollars to put us out of business. This is unfair and unethical.
The Related Companies have spent millions of dollars on lobbyists; lawyers, and consultants to advance its plans. Just look at the draft Environmental Impact Statement. 10 pounds of paper and analysis that says that a Big Box Supermarket or Warehouse Club would not affect local businesses –– a ridiculous argument, even if it cost Related millions of dollars to produce the report.
We welcome fair competition. What we oppose is a sweetheart deal to a multi-billion dollar developer to put us out of business, with tens of millions of dollars in tax subsidies.
Morton Williams Supermarkets
Unfortunately, Avi Kaner's argument against a big-box supermarket opening up in the Armory doesn't hold water. No matter what Mr. Kaner's beliefs, the fact remains that obesity and diabetes continue to rise within our community and many Bronx residents find themselves forced to shop outside of our borough to find fresh and affordable groceries.~ErLu
I applaud MW Supermarkets for their recent changes, but the truth of the matter is that the community as a whole still does not have quality supermarkets. I find the opposition to a supermarket in the Armory to be anti-democratic and anti-free market at the expense of the surrounding community. I hope that we can still come up with an alternative that brings healthier and affordable options to the Northwest Bronx.Fernando P. Tirado
Bronx Community Board 7