As the 30-day eviction notice for the Associated supermarket on 975 Nostrand Ave. in Crown Heights came to an end last Wednesday, local organizations rallied outside the home of Midwood Investment and Development CEO John Usdan.
Organizations such as Save Associated and Crown Heights Tenants Union have been rallying outside of Usdan’s Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan several times now since the developer sent the Associated supermarket a 30-day eviction notice in March.
The rally on Wednesday began at 6:00pm with a dozen or so participants, chanting and reading poems to the sound of whistles and clinging pans. Flyers were passed out and some passers-by even shouted in agreement with the protesters to save the supermarket.
“It’s really heartbreaking to know that we share a city, a neighborhood with a New Yorker, John Usdan, a company, Midwood Investment and Development, that thinks it’s perfectly fine to do something like this, to take away access to fresh food from a community in the middle of a pandemic,” AJ De Jesus of Save Associated said.
The Associated has been the cornerstone of the Crown Heights Community for three decades, providing locals with fresh affordable food and a close place to shop. But with the supermarket’s closure, many fear that the area will become a food desert, as the local population– including the elderly and young teenagers– would have to travel further to get food.
Michael Hollingsworth, a candidate for New York City Council and member of CHTU, said that all one had to do was stand outside the supermarket on a Saturday to see that most of the elderly who shop there have mobility issues.
“Telling them that they can walk a couple of extra blocks to get to another supermarket is at its core, immoral and unfair,” said Hollingsworth.
James Yolles, a representative for Midwood, said that although the developer appreciated the concerns of the local community for the temporary loss of the Associated. He added, concerns should be directed towards the owner of the supermarket, Pablo Espinal, who they said for at least five years had known of the redevelopment but made no attempt to relocate his store nearby, even when they offered to help him.
“We are hopeful that community members will see the benefits of replacing an oversized surface parking lot and a 50-year-old obsolete building with much-needed affordable housing and a new, larger supermarket to serve the neighborhood,” said Yolles.
BK Reader reached out to the Associated for a comment, but they did not respond.
Research from the Urban Displacement Project, showed that some areas around the Associated have already begun the process of gentrification, displacing low income households.
“We don’t need more luxury housing, that won’t be affordable to people who actually live here, we have enough of that,” said Hollingsworth, adding that the city has a habit of stripping everyday resources, such as education and housing from people of color and now even food.
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