The Gristedes supermarket chain appears to be engaged in a headlong retreat from Lower Manhattan. The firm’s owner, John Catsimatidis, is seeking to close two Downtown locations of the grocery store, at 90 Maiden Lane (in the Financial District) and at 21 South End Avenue (in Battery Park City).
The firm’s desire to shutdown the Battery Park City location has been public knowledge since 2015, when Mr. Catsimatidis first hired a broker to find a new tenant for the space, which he owns. But this push took on new urgency last fall, when he retained a different broker to begin marketing the 10,000-square foot facility.
More recently, in December, the company retained the same broker, CPEX Real Estate, to shop the lease on the 5,500-square foot Maiden Lane facility, which Mr. Catsimatidis does not own, but on which he holds a long-term lease.
With three stores (the third is located at 315 South End Avenue, also in Battery Park City) Gristedes had a near-monopoly on the supermarket business in Lower Manhattan for decades, during which local residents chronically groused about both quality and price at the supermarkets.
But more recently, the company has come under intense pressure below Chambers Street, with the arrival of more upscale markets like Whole Foods, in Tribeca, and Le District, in Brookfield Place. This rivalry 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 that competitive landscape appears poised to become more rigorous in the near future. Whole Foods signed a lease in 2016 to create a 44,000-square foot store in the Financial District, at the corner of Broadway and Exchange Place, just steps away from Gristedes Maiden Lane location. And residents have been pushing the owners of 28 Liberty Street, which a large new retail destination is currently under construction, to lure Trader Joe’s to open an outpost there. (Thus far, these efforts have yielded no conclusive results.)
Nor is Gristedes the only grocer pulling up stakes Downtown. In 2013, Fairway announced with much fanfare that it would soon open a 52,000-square foot flagship store in Tribeca, but these plans were scrapped two years later. More recently, Dean & Deluca in November scrapped plans to plant their flag at 40 Wall Street, also in the Financial District.