More than 700 sign petition protesting Pacific Green takeover
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cobble Hill residents are up in arms at the news that a J.Crew clothing store is looking to take over the site operated by Pacific Green, a beloved local grocer and greenmarket at the corner of 151 Court Street at Pacific Streets since 1999.
As of Monday morning, more than 700 Pacific Green supporters had signed a petition at Change.org imploring J Crew to put their store elsewhere.
“When I heard the news that J.Crew was moving to the corner of Pacific and Court where my beloved grocer now lives I was heartbroken,” writes Alexis Anselmi. “This cannot happen and I will do everything I can to stop it! Pacific Green is a staple in this neighborhood.”
Elizabeth Fountain wrote that she moved to Cobble Hill ten years ago for the “mom and pop feel.”
“If I wanted to live in a mall, I would move to the Time Warner Center in Manhattan!” she said. “The irony is that I am the target audience- I shop at J.Crew all the time. In Manhattan. I would never patronize a J.Crew in Cobble Hill, and further, if they take this action, I will never shop there again.”
Arista Real Estate Holdings, a Brooklyn holding company owned by Gustas Sheha, has given the greenmarket till the end of November to move out.
Pacific Green’s owner has vowed to fight the eviction, according to manager Bilal “Billy” Solmaz. “We’re not going anywhere yet,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Saturday. Solmaz said the grocery store, which carries gourmet items and a huge variety of fresh produce in bins on the sidewalk, has a 15-year lease on the corner property.
“The lease started in 1999, but he [the landlord] didn’t deliver until 2001 because the building wasn’t finished until 2001,” Solmaz said. “We have a rider on the lease saying it’s supposed to start when the landlord delivers the premises.
“We’re going to have legal issues,” he said. While Pacific Green is “searching in the neighborhood” for an alternate location, “we’re not going to lose this store for two and a half more years,” Solmaz said.
As customers piled their baskets full with mangoes, blueberries, fava beans and artichokes, a worker said, “Every day we get people shopping and taking pictures” of the produce. “This neighborhood is changing; it’s becoming like Manhattan. Look at Trader Joe’s –- there are lines outside. The worker said the landlord wanted to quadruple the rent, to more than a half million dollars a year.
One shopper said she traveled all the way from Manhattan to shop at the market. “I wish we had a store like this near us,” she said.
Solmaz said that Trader Joe’s has only improved his traffic. “Now we sell three times more blueberries and strawberries. I have great produce and I know my neighborhood very well. Don’t compare us to Trader Joe’s; compare us to Whole Foods, with my quality and prices.”
The petition to J.Crew at Change.org reads in part: “Please rethink your Cobble Hill location . . . I'm sure you can find other locations that will meet the needs of your business, and that don't displace a local store. Please tell the landlord of 151 Court Street that you are no longer interested, so that he may negotiate with the current tenant. Your customers will be much happier with your business if you don't force a neighborhood business to close.”
Calls to Arista Real Estate Holdings, J.Crew and real estate company CPEX, handling the lease, were not returned by press time.
According to The Real Deal website, J.Crew signed a 10-year net lease for the building and will take over 2,349 square feet on the ground floor, lower level and second floor.