This just in: IGA Food Basket is staying put. Supermarket owner Charles Reichert, his employees and local residents alike were thrilled to hear last Friday morning that the store, which has been in Garden City's downtown for the past 19 years, will continue doing business on Seventh Street after all.
"We're thrilled about all of this," Reichert told the Garden City Life last week. "We're thrilled about the support this village gave us to try and have us stay here. It's amazing how the people really stood by us through all of this. Sometimes you think people take a supermarket for granted ... I hope these residents realize how much they mean to us too."
Reichert, the Garden City Chamber of Commerce's "2002 Business Person of the Year," met with Josh Goldberg and Stone Crest Management, his landlord, and struck a deal to run out the five-year lease, which began in 2003 and will expire in July 2008. "After our lease is up, we'll talk again," he said.
Robert Rothschild, village trustee and liaison to the business community said this is wonderful news for Garden City. "I think it's a victory for the Chamber of Commerce and the residents of this village who spoke up and told people what they wanted," he said.
Rothschild, who feels that the village administration did not play a large role in this, added, "It was the Chamber that stepped up to the plate ... It was interesting for me to see the number of people who said they shop at Food Basket. I hope these people will continue to shop there on a regular basis."
Sandy Miniero, who spearheaded a petition campaign to keep IGA in and Duane Reade out, said she's thrilled her supermarket will remain on Seventh Street. "It goes to show you that if enough people's hearts are in it, something can be done that looks impossible. I'm happy that we were, as private citizens, able to get what we wanted."
Stone Crest Management recently purchased a whole block of buildings on the south side of Seventh Street, including the properties that house Culinary Heights, Michael's Haircutters, Atlantis Chemists, Seventh Street Stationery, Bestever Cleaners, Feldis Florist, TCBY, Town Meat Market, Food For Thought, Jean Marie Patisserie and IGA Food Basket. The company also owns HL Gross, The Klipp office building, Edmund's and Neptune Photo on Franklin Avenue.
Last month, after irate residents spoke out against the rumored real estate change, Garden City Mayor Barbara Miller, along with Village Administrator Robert Schoelle, Trustee Rothschild, Building Superintendent Mike Filippon and three Chamber of Commerce representatives met with Josh Goldberg, a principal of Stone Crest Management. Officials shared with Goldberg the need to "preserve the integrity of retail businesses" on Seventh Street.
Mayor Miller applauded Goldberg's desire to work with the village and his tenants, along with his plans to improve the facades of these buildings, especially the parts that face Parking Field 7S. It was at the April 14 meeting that Goldberg indicated he had not yet signed a lease with Duane Reade and that he'd continue marketing the Food Basket space "for the time being."
Miniero, who said she witnessed the hotel being torn down when she was too young to do anything about it, also saw Martin's, Bloomingdale's and A&S close. "Maybe stores can't be forced to stay open just because we love them or they are the ones that give the town its convenience and charm we all moved here to have. But I don't believe we don't have a choice in the types of stores that are replacing them."
Despite this victory, Miniero knows "it's not over" and hopes people will vote for the Business Improvement District (BID) proposal and push their property owners associations to bring it up at meetings. "I would like to have the mayor and the trustees look into the National Trust Main Street Preservation Association. That's my next hope," Miniero added.
To offer a unified front in dealing with these types of circumstances, Miniero is also trying to create a Seventh Street Preservation Association. "I think something has to be put in place so at least there's an association of landlords, tenants and citizens making decisions together on how diversified the streets should be so we don't end up with a whole block of chain stores or a whole block of drug stores. We need to keep it diversified and small."