Court Street grocer gears up to fight J. Crew takeover

Court Street grocer gears up to fight J. Crew takeover
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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 [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

Fruit of the Loom: Solmaz’s fruit section could be replaced with designer underwear.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini