Disappointed that recent plans to turn New Utrecht Avenue’s Waldbaums into a Key Food fell through, community members and local leaders are standing together to demand a full-service supermarket take up permanent residence at the Bensonhurst location.
“We are standing here today with our elected officials basically to call on all parties involved –the owners, the brokers, everybody who has a part of this project — to commit fully, 100 percent, to the opening of a full-service supermarket here. Anything less will not be appropriate,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura at a rally outside the store on Thursday, November 19, the supermarket’s last day of operation. “That means fresh produce, fresh meats, fresh food. This community deserves that. This has been an anchor in this community for a very long time and we need a supermarket, period. We are here to say ‘supermarket — yes, anything else — no.’”
As this paper previously reported, the Waldbaums at this location (8121 New Utrecht Avenue)—along with 16 other Great Atlantic & Pacific Company (A&P)-owned stores—was slated to become a Key Food after the corporation’s July Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
The deal, however, fell through after a recent auction for the asset purchase of the store.
In actuality, according to Councilmember Vincent Gentile, there were two failed transactions regarding the sale of the property, now forcing the location to return to auction.
“The bankruptcy court has to help us get this done so we can have a good Key Food in the neighborhood,” said Gentile. “After this week, after almost 40 years, Waldbaums will be closing its doors. With Thanksgiving coming up and the holidays just around the corner, over 70 hardworking people who work here will be left unemployed and Bensonhurst will be left hung out to dry without a full service supermarket in the neighborhood.
“So, we are here to demand that a full service supermarket replace the Waldbaums here on New Utrecht Avenue,” he continued. “The sentiment is clear that this is unacceptable. When this place goes dark, A&P will have left us in the dark also.”
According to Assemblymember Peter Abbate, ownership issues are at the core of the problem.
“The parking lot and the supermarket happen to be owned by different people,” Abbate explained. “We have to make sure we can get them together to make sure we can lease it or sell it as on piece of property. I’ve been in touch with the New York State Food Alliance to have them get involved. We need all the merchants involved that want to put a supermarket here and we also have to get in touch with the bankruptcy court, to make sure that they help in making a settlement here. Bensonhurst can’t survive without it; it makes no sense for us to have to go to other neighborhoods to shop.”
Also in attendance were Assemblymember William Colton and representatives form Councilmember Mark Treyger’s office and State Senator Marty Golden’s office.