Residents of Battery Park City’s south neighborhood may soon have to walk farther for bargains like the Tuesday senior discount offered by the Gristedes supermarket. The grocery story has been a fixture for decades on South End Avenue, with locations at West Thames Street and another in the Gateway Plaza complex. But a marketing presentation reviewed by the Broadsheet indicates that a real estate brokerage firm has been retained to shop the former location, at 21 South End Avenue (within the Regatta condominium building) to prospective lessees. This may mean that Gristedes will soon vacate the space.
A representative for the Brooklyn-based real estate brokerage that is handling transaction, CPex, did not respond to a request for information about when Gristedes might close, or what kind of store could take its place. (It is also unknown whether CPex has been retained by the owner of the space, or by the Gristedes Corporation, which may be seeking to sublease its space to another retailer.) The offer of space at 21 South End Avenue reprises a similar move in 2015, when the Gristedes space was shopping by two other firms, simultaneously. That solicitation appears to have led nowhere.
Lower Manhattan residents have long expressed a desire for a supermarket such as Trader Joe’s or Fairway to open a local outpost. But the 10,000 square feet (on two levels) in the Gristedes space would be less than one-fourth the size of a typical Fairway Market, and that firm is now retrenching from a years-long expansion binge. (In 2015, Fairway scrapped plans, announced with much fanfare two years earlier, to open a 52,000-square foot flagship store in Tribeca.) Trader Joe’s generally operates much smaller markets (averaging around 15,000 square feet), but the Gristedes space at 21 South End Avenue would be cramped even by that company’s standards.
Local residents have long groused about both quality and price at Gristedes, although the store seems to have rebounded of late: In 2015, a renovation that one of the store’s employees said had cost more than $100,000 brought new flooring, a revamped lobby, and a walk-in refrigerated section offering cold beer. But the company (which, in addition to the pair of Battery Park City stores, also has a supermarket in the Financial District, on Maiden Lane) has come under pressure in recent years, with the arrival of more upscale markets like Whole Foods, in Tribeca, and Le District, in Brookfield Place. This competition intensified in 2016 when the Westfield World Trade Center retail complex opened with more than a dozen food destinations such as a new Eataly market and a spinoff of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s upscale market, Epicerie Boulud. And the local rivalry for shopping dollars appears poised to escalate further. Upscale grocer Market Lane is slated to open soon in the Westfield World Trade Center, and a second Whole Foods is scheduled to debut at the corner of Broadway and Rector Street in 2018.
A spokesman for Gristedes did not respond to requests for comment.