Rite Aid to Become Latest Local Store to Shut Its Doors
Multiple sources confirm that the Rite Aid pharmacy in Brookfield Place is scheduled to close. Two employees (who asked not to be identified, because they are not authorized to speak to the press) said they have been notified that the store will cease operations in the near future. Both said that they had not been given a specific date, and that no explanation for the closure had been provided. A press representative for Rite Aid corporation did not respond to a request for comment.
The loss of Rite Aid is likely to prove a hardship for two, overlapping local constituencies—Lower Manhattan’s sizable population of elders, and the significant cohort of survivors of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The latter group is largely reliant on medications provided by the World Trade Center Health Program, and the staff at the Brookfield Rite Aid have become self-trained experts at navigating the bureaucratic hurdles associated with dispensing prescriptions for that group.
The pending closure of Rite Aid comes in the wake of the 2018 loss of the Battery Park City Pharmacy, a family-operated drugstore on South End Avenue that had served generations of local residents since 1983. The Battery Park City Pharmacy agreed to shut down as part of a deal, under which Rite Aid bought out the business, and transferred all patient records from the store on South End Avenue to the Brookfield location. No plans have been announced to transfer customer prescriptions from Rite Aid to another location. (The two nearest Rite Aid outposts are in the West Village and East Village—at 534 Hudson Street, near Charles Street; and 81 First Avenue, near East Fifth Street.)
These developments come against the backdrop of an ongoing retail meltdown in Battery Park City. In addition to the loss of the Battery Park City Pharmacy in 2018, the Gristedes supermarket at West Thames Street and South End Avenue closed in 2020. More recently, the Benvenuti delicatessen at 235 South End Avenue shuttered abruptly in November, and the landlord at the Gateway Plaza complex posted online notices in September, indicating that the side-by-side storefronts housing Picasso Pizza and the Bulls & Bears Winery were available to rent to other retail tenants, indicating that either (or both) may close soon.
Downtown residents have voiced several concerns. Following closures, retail spaces can remain empty for years. The Gristedes site at South End Avenue and West Thames Street, for example, is still vacant. And when rented again, local storefronts may be occupied by large, national chains, rather than small businesses.