Story by Gregg McQueen
Community celebrates new lease for local market
Call them the Associated Allies.
More than a hundred local residents gathered outside of Associated Supermarket in Washington Heights on Sun., Jun 19th, to celebrate having kept the store from closing.
The popular local grocery store, located on Fort Washington Avenue and 187th Street, had received a massive outpouring of community support after it was announced in December that its lease had expired and that the site had been earmarked to become a Walgreen’s pharmacy.
Though Associated franchise owner Oswaldo Rodríguez had hoped to come to terms on a new lease, property owner Benenson Capital Partners LLC initially started eviction proceedings against the store.
The move towards eviction was paused in February after elected officials and concerned local residents took up the cause, staging several rallies and a community hearing, and gathering more than 1,000 signatures on a petition to keep Associated open.
That community action seems to have paid off, as it was announced on June 17 that the site’s current lease holder has signed a sublease with Associated, allowing the store to remain open indefinitely.
“This is the people’s victory,” said Shah Ally, President of Community Board 12.
Elected officials, who joined jubilant residents outside of the store to celebrate the news, said that losing the store would have had a destabilizing effect on the community, which has already seen numerous small business shuttered in recent years.
“In upper Manhattan and across our city, small businesses that families built and residents rely on are being forced out due to skyrocketing rents,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Read more: Saving the Supermarket | Manhattan Times