Sections

Cobble Hill residents start petition to stop corporation from moving in

Court Street grocer gears up to fight J. Crew takeover

J-SUE: Pacific Green owner Billy Solmaz says he is suing his landlord, claiming the owner of his building wants to break a lease to bring in clothing retailer J. Crew.
The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

A Cobble Hill grocery store tha is being forced out of its storefront to make way for global clothing retailer J. Crew won’t go down without a fight, say its owners.

Management of the Pacific Green Gourmet Food at the corner of Pacific and Court streets said it is gearing up to sue their landlord, who they say is kicking them out of the property and giving unjustified favor to the retail giant that’s set to open an outpost there in early 2014, according to published reports.

“We are going to court and we will try to do our best. We are fighting,” said co-owner Billy Solmaz, whose shop has been open for 13 years on the ground floor of the two-story building.

The grocer said that he was blindsided when he found out from customers — and not his landlord — that J. Crew is expected to move into the storefront. The clothing retailer signed a 10-year lease for the building, the Real Deal reported, and will take over 2,439-square-feet each on the ground floor, lower level, and second floor.

Solmaz said in 2000 he signed a 15-year lease for the storefront. In May, the building’s landlord told Solmaz that the gourmet store has until the end of the year to move out.

“He said he doesn’t want us to stay anymore,” said Solmaz, who added that he even offered to pay a higher rent so Pacific Green could remain. “He said that he’s not negotiating. He wants to give the place to a big corporation.”

Solmaz said that even if he can’t stay in his present location, he is on the hunt for another storefront nearby so that the grocery store can still serve the neighborhood.

“We love this neighborhood. We know that people want us to stay,” said the native of Turkey.

Neighbors have banded together in support of the grocery store, setting up an online petition to stop J. Crew from coming to the location.

“Pacific Green is such a big part of the neighborhood and the community,” said Carl Foner, a Cobble Hill resident. Foner started the Change.org petition last month, after he got wind of the news. The petition currently has more than 4,000 signatures.

“It’s a neighborhood institution,” said Foner, who has been shopping at the store for 10 years. “It’s a place where everyone comes to get great produce and really good service from the people who work there.”

Foner said that residents are concerned about big corporations taking over the dwindling mom-and-pop shops in their neighborhood, which will ultimately cause it to loose its appeal.

J. Crew representatives and CPEX Real Estate, the brokerage firm handling the sale, did not return requests for comment.

The landlord of the Court Street building could not be be reached.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Wow... Starbucks, Trader Joes, and now J.Crew? That part of Court Street is being destroyed by the chain stores of suburbia. What a shame.
July 22, 2013, 9:36 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
As we live by the sword of cheap products made abroad, our neighborhoods will die by that sword as well. Corporations will eventually take and control everything the middle class cherishes unless we re-prioritize what is important. Wake up people, or you will be living the suburban lifestyle/nightmare so many moved to the city to avoid.
July 22, 2013, 9:44 am
Ed from BK says:
It's interesting that as Court Street becomes filled with more National chains, 5th Avenue has become a hotbed of interesting mom and pop and independent stores.
July 22, 2013, 10:50 am
Elvis from Nawcostella says:
The article would be better if the photo had the guy pointing at the store with a WTF look on his face though.
July 22, 2013, 2:07 pm
Stephen Conti from Carroll Gardens says:
I walk a neighborhood over past multiple fruit and Veg stores to shop here. The grocers always have smiles and nice conversations with my young children.... All that will change with the pushing in of corporate run boutiques. Sad and pathetic. Why doesn't J Crew open on Flatbush? A strip trying to lure corporate boutiques?
July 22, 2013, 3:52 pm
Elvis from Nawcostella says:
Good point-it would fit in better on flatbush ave with the other lame crap
July 22, 2013, 4:12 pm
Lyn from cg says:
Even Atlantic Avenue would be better suited. But yes, Flatbush near to Barclays would make SO much more sense! JCrew is a terrible company though, cheap, overpriced clothing owned by a cheating on her husband turned lesbian.
July 22, 2013, 4:13 pm
patrick from Brooklyn says:
Flatbush = lame crap?

Flatbush has been making a major comeback:

Franny's
Isabella (coming to former Franny's space)
Hungry Ghost
Ideya (brand new)
New BBQ joint opening soon on corner of stmarks
Shake Shack coming Fall
BKLYN Larder

Sorry but the "crap" on Flatbush is infinitely better than most anything on Court Street, better known as the new mall of Brooklyn.
July 22, 2013, 4:37 pm
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
I hope this guy moves to Bay Ridge to 95th St and higher. There are NO clean small grocers there with staples and fresh produce. And too many pizzerias...
July 22, 2013, 4:40 pm
Elvis from Nawcostella says:
Sharleen's (formerly Moody’s) too. By lame crap I mean American Apparel, Five Guys, and —— lower down by Barclays. Also not sure what "the Scariest Haunted House in New York" is but it used to be a lame furniture store. There is still plenty of lame —— on Flatbush. That Burrito Bar is suck.
July 22, 2013, 5:28 pm
Lisa from PH says:
Five Guys closed.
July 22, 2013, 5:33 pm
Lisa from PH says:
Rumor is that the Haunted House has been looked at by a number of high profile Manhattan restaurants. That area around Barclays is so much nicer than it used to be and it's getting better every day.
July 22, 2013, 5:34 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
They have a phenomenal selection of different salami. It's worth checking out just for that.
July 22, 2013, 6:06 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
They have a phenomenal selection of different salami. It's worth checking out just for that.
July 22, 2013, 6:07 pm
Elvis from Nawcostella says:
The haunted house sells many kinds of salami? I will go there on way home from work then
July 22, 2013, 6:21 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
It would be interesting to go back to, say the mid 1800's and do a time line of how many businesses were situated in that very location.

Times change, businesses change it's a fact of life. get over it.

Many of these quirky unique businesses usually have a limited shelf life. Not so for the guy in the article, but I can guarantee that he gets his produce at the same distributor that caters to hundreds of other businesses.

I mean - god bless him. A non-hipster business that actually serves the community.

But this thing with petitioning J. Crew is nonsense. it's not like they opening a meth lab. It's clothing - POPULAR clothing for crissakes.

Many of the protestors are NIMBYs and want it both ways - they'll run to the J. Crew at some mall r in NYC (probably hiding their purchases inside of their re-useable hemp co-op bags. But they also have the luxury of venting their spleen about "big Sweater" all while sipping their Starbucks coffee, Talking on their i-phones, getting their ankles whacked by designer strollers loaded with diapers from Duane Reade - all the while patting each other on the back for keeping the neighborhood real and free of corporate chains.

While standing outside of Whole Foods - a publicly traded supermarket chain with a less than stellar employment record.

there's a neighborhood not far from me called Manayunk. In the '80's it was a war zone. then development started slowly, a few brave souls opening restaurants - to be followed by small quirky boutiques, coffee shops which have gone out of business or changed hands 50 times over.

The 'hood took off and it was a thriving community.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Pottery Barn wanted to open a store in what was essentially a neighborhood eye sore that made Roberta's look like The Ritz Carlton.

Lots of screaming, protests, sabotage, pulling of hair, gnashing of teeth, etc.

On grand opening day the place was packed with locals. Then came Starbucks, CVS, etc. No one complained.

Today Manayunk is a thriving eclectic community far more diverse than anyhing you'll find in Brooklyn. small businesses are doing well and playing nice with the big boys. Everyone is happy.

What hipsters and militant yuppies fail to grasp is that when a company like J. Crew wants to open a store in your locale it means that the residents make a ton of money.

J. Crew chose YOU because YOU have cash, a nice car, an expensive loft and can afford to buy really nice things. J.Crew is not going to spend millions building a store, placating a**holes, making sure the décor fits the rest of the block, etc. if the locals can't afford to shop there. I don't see opening a store in downtown Detroit any time soon.

It's all good. OK - hipsters got their sister's panties in a twist because it's one less foreigner (or foreign looking guy that they have on their diversity list.

But when hipster turn 40 and decide to grow up and start families they'll begin to understand how much value a Duane Reade, Ace Hardware, baby Gap or Pottery Barn adds to the value of their property and to their quality of life.

They'll compromise their snotty worldview when they realize that when little Lichen and Balzac have the flu and they've been up for 24 hours straight cleaning vomit out of their rugs and the grooves of their reclaimed pine floors, they'll put their politics and street cred aside and thank God that there's a Pizza Hut around the corner that will deliver a five dollar pizza in 20 minutes.

As far as the produce guy goes. I feel bad for him. But my dad was a successful business man. He started with nothing. His advice was you rent for awhile - if you're successful and the block is changing, beg, borrow or steal to buy the property. that way no will kick you out and YOU choose when to close shop.
July 22, 2013, 9:53 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
Bottom line:If I lived and that "nabe" and had to choose between a friendly fruit vendor and J. Crew, I'll choose J. Crew. They have experts whose job is to run the numbers ad nauseum and track demographics. A chain store in your locale means it's worthy of sizeable investment. We didn't get a Starbucks until 2001. Now we have 10. And my property has quadrupled in value since 1997.

When my Father-in-law worked in commercial real estate, he told me if you want to know which side of the road to open a business, look for the chain stores. They spent the millions in research and you get it for free.
July 22, 2013, 10:02 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
Bottom line:If I lived and that "nabe" and had to choose between a friendly fruit vendor and J. Crew, I'll choose J. Crew. They have experts whose job is to run the numbers ad nauseum and track demographics. A chain store in your locale means it's worthy of sizeable investment. We didn't get a Starbucks until 2001. Now we have 10. And my property has quadrupled in value since 1997.

When my Father-in-law worked in commercial real estate, he told me if you want to know which side of the road to open a business, look for the chain stores. They spent the millions in research and you get it for free.
July 22, 2013, 10:03 pm
Pat I. from Brooklyn says:
Remember that not everyone is willing to spend millions to open a store.

but pretty much anyone can open a fruit stand. Even the worst neighborhoods have them.
July 22, 2013, 10:05 pm
Pat I. from Brooklyn says:
Remember that not everyone is willing to spend millions to open a store.

but pretty much anyone can open a fruit stand. Even the worst neighborhoods have them.
July 22, 2013, 10:06 pm
the Chooch from the Brooklyn Renaissance says:
Amen, Pat.
July 23, 2013, 1:20 am
Millicent "Mango" D'Amore from South Brooklyn says:
Franny's and J. Crew are both lame crap, different marketing for the same banal mediocrities. Enjoy Court Street mall, white people, you "earned" it!!!

Maybe those underpaid, off the books West Indian nannies can bring you fresh produce from THEIR neighborhoods?
July 23, 2013, 2:16 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
That's right Pat I, money is everything. Thank you for sharing your deep wisdom. What were the rest of us thinking ... family, community. I guess when you don't grow up somewhere, you care less?

And hey Millicent, don't go straight to hate. Just not called for here ...
July 23, 2013, 11:38 am
judah spechal from bedstuy says:
I am sure most will not complain when they sell their house/apts.

Pat I. was blunt, yet factual.

Hope the protesters are helping him find new spot, if not there is space here in Bed Stuy. U can probably buy a built around Fulton, Nostrand Bedford, NY?Marcy Ave
July 23, 2013, 12:44 pm
Kelly D. from Cobble Hill says:
Does anyone actually shop at J. Crew?
July 23, 2013, 4:18 pm
Kelly D. from Cobble Hill says:
Pat I. : I agree with most of what you said. But just FYI- you don't have to be a hipster to live in Brooklyn or to be against a J. Crew taking real estate from a local business
July 23, 2013, 4:21 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
I will celebrate when that J. Crew goes bust after 14 months. Just like when the dry cleaners on the corner of Court and Baltic was forced out, only to remain vacant for more than a year. Serves a greedy landlord right.
July 23, 2013, 4:56 pm
The Chooch from Flatbush Valley says:
The last time I was asked to spend my time defending the local flavor, it was about Atlantic Yards and the displacement by eminent domain of local landowners. I'm glad I didn't waste my time, because those very landowners all went miraculously silent, the community got a spectacular new arena, and the only losers were a bunch of Park Slope liberals who got suckered into having a whole lot of their time chewed up wrangling with a non-issue and a no-brainer. SO GIVE ME A BREAK! Is this guy's grocery store viable? Of course it is. Good. So now it's time for him to get a loan and buy something in Brooklyn. Anything, anywhere. Thank you for your time, the Chooch is done with this conversation.
July 23, 2013, 11:55 pm
Chocha & The Man from Gowanus says:
The Chooch needs an STD test, smells NASTY.
July 24, 2013, 3:26 am
Sue from CG says:
Pat I - Love your take on hipsters. I'd only sign the petition in hopes that something better than J Crew would come along.
Aug. 5, 2013, 5:34 am
vivi from uk says:
i used to work there that's a lovely place with great fruits and veggies always fresh !!! honestly as long as i was working there i was doing all my shopping and bring them all the way to queens i think that such a clean great store and those produce and those people are worth fighting !!!!
Aug. 18, 2013, 9:46 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

This week’s featured advertisers

See all ads