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Walmart will not be coming to East New York

Company is still looking for site somewhere in city

Late last week, as news was published that a Shop-Rite supermarket, not a Walmart store, will be the anchor at the Gateway II retail development in East New York, Walmart officials released a statement that the company will continue its search for a New York City location.

“Walmart will continue to evaluate local opportunities across all five boroughs,” said Steven Restivo, senior director of community affairs for Walmart, in a statement sent to the Eagle on Sept. 14.

“We were unable to agree upon economic terms,” he added. “We remain committed to bringing new economic development and shopping options to New York City, especially in the neighborhoods that need them most.”

First reported in Crain’s New York Business on Friday, opponents of Walmart took credit for blocking the store and praised Gateway II developer Related Companies for choosing a retailer with a history of responsible business practices. Related declined to comment. for Crain’s.

Commented Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, also in a statement sent to the Eagle, “As someone whose office has long advocated for food justice and better access to supermarkets and fresh nutritious foods in our most underserved neighborhoods, I am thrilled that an agreement has been reached to have ShopRite anchor the Gateway II development. Not only will Shop-Rite provide a much-needed supermarket for the surrounding area, but create union jobs at a time when we need them the most.”

Restivo also said that two things remain constant in Walmart’s consideration of a city location.

“Most New Yorkers want us here and we remain interested in providing more convenient access to Walmart for local residents,” Restivo said. “In addition to providing good jobs and affordable groceries, residents want a retailer in Brooklyn that would hire and buy local, and look to make a positive economic impact by hosting job fairs, workforce development initiatives and supplier summits.

But opponents like Pat Purcell, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, praised the Shop-Rite deal as one that would provide East New York residents access to “good food, good jobs and good health."

“[The] news is proof that labor, management, elected officials and community can work together productively and provide results that make it a win-win-win for all for New Yorkers, workers and consumers alike,” Purcell told Crain’s.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, also an opponent of Walmart’s plan to move to the city, said, “I welcome this company’s newest location with its history of responsible business practices, supporting its workers and the communities they serve. This deal is a three-way win for the Related Cos., Shop-Rite and New York City.”

In a subsequent article on GlobeSt.com, brokers said the retailer will most likely establish a foothold within one of the boroughs, possibly by year’s end.

“They are still trying to get as close to Manhattan as possible, but they are going to continue their search,” Faith Hope Consolo, chair of retail leasing at Prudential Douglas Elliman, told GlobeSt.com. “If they can’t get a dream deal in Manhattan, there are other possibilities that are availing themselves in Brooklyn, but it may not be so central as Related’s.”

Consolo noted that Staten Island would also be a viable location based on logistics and demographics.

“That would make sense in one way,” she told GlobeSt. “They would get the Brooklyn people, they’d get a lot of people from New Jersey and they have the opportunity for a lot of space,” she said. “Staten Island is their profile for sure, but they really want more of a cross section because, today, everyone is a cross shopper, whether discount, mid-range or luxury.”

Consolo added, “They are going to prevail. I think we are going to hear something before the end of the year.”

Gateway II is an expansion of the existing Gateway shopping center by approximately 600,000 square feet while maintaining the original number of affordable housing units up to 2,385, including senior housing.

Also planned: 45.2 acres of open space including a periphery park and three interior parks, a high school and community facility space. The expanded retail center is being developed by the Gateway Center Properties. The affordable housing will be developed by the Nehemiah Housing Development Fund and The Briarwood Organization.

September 19, 2012 - 10:52am


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