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Windsor Terrace wants fresh food, not a Walgreens

Community to pharmacy: Sell fresh food or leave

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Windsor Terrace residents have a less-than welcoming message for their neighborhood’s newest business: feed us or leave!

More than 100 protesters rallied outside the former home of the community’s only grocery store on Wednesday to demand that the new tenant — the drugstore chain Walgreens — offer fresh food or back out of the deal.

“You’re not welcome here — and we’re not taking this laying down,” said protest organizer Steve LeVine.

Neighbors last month began fighting the nation’s largest pharmacy chain after it announced its plans to replace the Key Foods at Prospect and 11th avenues, saying it would create a food desert that would force families and old people to trek more than a mile to Park Slope for sustenance.

More than 3,000 people — roughly one third of all households in the neighborhood — have since signed petitions pledging to boycott the pharmacy, according the movement’s organizers.

Protesters urged the chain to open a full-service food market or give up the space to a grocer that will, waving signs reading “Green beans, not Walgreens!” and “If you build it, we won’t come!” in front of the now-graffitied-covered space on the same day the pharmacy took over the lease.

Elected officials said they want Walgreens to renegotiate the lease to share some space with a grocer — noting that several store owners have expressed interest.

“It’s a business model that is beneficial to both parties,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Windsor Terrace).

It’s also in the chain’s best interest to compromise with neighbors, who are well-organized and tight-knit, he said.

“If Walgreens chooses not to work with this community, it will fail in this community,” he said.

Walgreens representatives last month agreed to provide “expanded food offerings” at the shop — but refused to define that term when contacted for specifics on Tuesday.

A spokesman, Jim Cohn, said the company plans to gather with residents and elected officials to discuss the neighborhood’s needs.

“Those discussions are ongoing [so] we cannot disclose more information at this time,” he said in a statement. “However, we do look forward to engaging in an active dialogue with community leaders.”

In 2008, Walgreens agreed to provide a small selection of produce and meat in Bay Ridge after a similar battle. But Windsor Terrace residents say they need a better selection of produce, baked goods, and fresh meat than that.

They also want a commitment from the company — pronto.

“Step up or step out,” said Borough President Markowitz, a grocery store supporter who lives in the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Steve LeVine from Windsor Terrace says:
Correct spelling of my last name is LeVine. I assisted in putting together the protest and spreading the word. The organizer was really the Windsor Terrace community.
I also do not recall saying what was quoted. Walgreens can be welcome if they actually do work with us to provide what is needed- an actual grocery store with fresh, not just prepared, food.
Aug. 2, 2012, 8:58 am
Crawford from South Slope says:
This is a silly protest. The supermarket closed because it was unprofitable. These smaller supermarkets make no economic sense in 2012.

If the community really wanted a supermarket, they would have patronized it. A drug store makes much more sense, and will likely turn a profit.

The community can have a vacant store, or a productive one. They can't dictate the type of store.
Aug. 2, 2012, 1:41 pm
louise from park slope says:
Yes we can dictate remember union is important
and that is what Windsor Terrace is doing they got the
community union together , It is very important to
have a super maket for us in this neighborhood
we have two drugstores on PPW. We don't need another one More power to Windsor Terrace keep fighting
Aug. 2, 2012, 4:05 pm
Joy from Windsor Terrace says:
Dear Crawford,

The supermarket closed because the owner is 82 years old and has retired.
Aug. 2, 2012, 4:55 pm
Louise from windsor terrace says:
Joy
your right he was 82 and retired so
Crawford so where do you live not in windsor terrace
you really don't know what your talking about
so get your facts straight. it wasen't because it was unprofitable supermaket.
Aug. 3, 2012, 10:07 am
Marc from Windsor Terrace says:
Crawford, why are you posting her if you don't know any of the facts. The Key Food was very heavily patronized. As Joy and Louise said, the owner wanted to retire and privately sought the highest paying tenant, which, as the BP said at the rally, are banks and chain drug stores. Had the owner involved the community off of which he profited for over 30 years, we could have helped find a supermarket operator who could pay his price. Instead, we have a community boycott of Walgreens and its Duane Reade subsidiary.
Aug. 3, 2012, 10:07 pm

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