Local community members rallied outside Associated Supermarket in Chelsea Sunday, protesting a massive rent increase that would force the neighborhood staple to leave.
The beloved market is nestled in between the Meatpacking district and Union Square, right next to the A-C-E subway line. And while there is no shortage of delis, restaurants, and other grocery stores in the downtown area, local residents say that none is as affordable as Associated.
“Every week they have a yogurt on sale—‘5 for $1—often the expensive ones like Chobani,’” said MyraMae King, who has lived adjacent to the supermarket for 50 years. She claims that the Westside Market one avenue away is too pricey for her. Whole Foods, on the intersection of 24th Street and 7th Avenue, is neither within walking distance for her, nor affordable, she added.
At 1:30 pm City Council member Corey Johnson began an emblazoned speech outside the supermarket to a herd of people at the busy intersection.
Johnson, followed by other local politicians, pressed the need for both affordable housing and food in the neighborhood, decrying the colossal rent raise to over $200,000, up from $32,000 now. The landlord, Pan Am Equities declined to confirm or comment on the rent increase.
Manhattanites huddled around the sidewalk podium Sunday, cheering Johnson on at times, and booing at others when he spoke of the tenants’ woes. Meanwhile, owner Gladwin Francis says that he hopes his landlord will negotiate with him. For now, the grocery’s fate remains uncertain.