Monday, July 27, 2009

Beyond Living Wages: The Supermarket War at the Armory

The controversial Kingsbridge Armory project proposed by the Related Cos. will have another hearing tonight at 6pm on Lehman's campus in the Lovinger Theater.

BoogieDowner has voiced concerns about the practicality of the living wage debate, so I won't restate my position about that. BUT...the new issue of NOT having a supermarket in the Armory is reprehensible.

The Daily News is reporting that all eight Bronx City Council members sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg asking him to reject any supermarket plan in the Armory. This is outrageous because anyone who lives in and around the Armory knows full well that quality supermarkets - not glorified bodegas - are very difficult to come by. Produce can be old, products expired, and prices high.

I am not sure if/how much money Morton William's (owner of a supermarket right near the Armory site), has given to the Bronx City Council members' campaigns, but it is clear that the Council members are attempting to protect Morton Williams from good old fashioned capitalist competition.

To say that CB7 has enough quality supermarkets is an outright lie.

For proof of the dearth of quality food shopping options just check out this BD post from February lamenting the grocery woes of the hood and the 14 comments from other Bronxites sharing info about where to find a decent supermarket.



anthony rivieccio said...

if i might

while i agree there is no other supermarkets in the area and the policies of morton williams need to be tightened up, i will tonight testify that as a 30 year resident of the neighborhood, watching the armory stand for a beacon of hope for the community for 10 decades to consider schools-as part of the plan.
for 7 decades, it held its miltary might within the community. for the last 3 decades, it was, before closing a multi use facility for the community

Gregory Lobo Jost said...

I like to think of grocery stores like bank branches: up to a certain point it's nice to have more of them, but it's even better when they are spread out.

Sure, we are underserved when it comes to grocery stores (just like with bank branches), but why get excited about a new grocery option when it's right next to another one?

I wasn't very excited when WaMu opened up branches on 204th or on Fordham Road a few years back, since they were right next to a bunch of other branches. If you loved the WaMu product, then you might get excited. If you love what the new grocery option might be at the armory, you'd be excited... but what if it ends up being another C-Town?

Btw, I like Nick Napolitano's idea of having a permanent farmer's market like at Union Square.

Boogiedowner said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Greg. I completely agree with Nick about a permanent farmer's market.

And I agree with you that a glorfied bodega next to another glorified bodega does not exactly mean an increase in quailty food shopping options...and i'm not super excited about whatever proposed supermarket may end up in the Armory until I see it.

I am just upset that city council members are claiming we have plenty of quality food shopping options when we don't. I understand that Morton Williams has been aorund a while, but it'll just have to compete with a new option. Options and competition are good for consumers. If MW can provide great service, fresh food, and keep prices down it deserves to survive. If MW cannot keep pace with price, freshness, or service it should meet a Darwinian end, no?

Gregory Lobo Jost said...

I guess the question is whether whatever new grocery option comes in will have an undeserved competitive advantage (i.e., tax breaks). I know the developer is getting a lot of breaks, but I don't know if there are similar deals for the actual retailers.

Obviously, you are arguing for the basic tenets of capitalism, which one can agree or disagree with. Often they work out they way they are supposed to, though the results can still be rather regrettable (e.g., Stella D'Oro, the loss of manufacturing jobs).

Guywithacause said...

The reality is that those opposed to the supermarket are ONLY Morton Williams..not community members. The ONLY community members opposed to the new supermarket are those EMPLOYED by competitors (Morton Williams). It is a few vocal and well funded/connected people (Morton Williams) that are making the fuss. The community is GREATLY undeserved, and a new supermarket with a variety of products will benefit the entire community as well as provide some sorely needed competition, bring prices down and service up. That's what competition does remember?

Morton Williams could care less about the community, ALL they care about is maintaining their monopoly, profit margins, and subpar service. Those Council Members will do/say anything so long as you donate to their campaign, and any Council Member, business, or member of the community that is trying to block this sorely needed supermarket should be outed for the greedy self-serving pigs that they are.