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Windsor Terrace wants fresh food, not a Walgreens

Community to pharmacy: Sell fresh food or leave

Brooklyn Daily

Windsor Terrace residents have a less-than welcoming message for their neighborhood’s newest business: feed us or leave!

More than 100 protesters rallied outside the former home of the community’s only grocery store on Wednesday to demand that the new tenant — the drugstore chain Walgreens — offer fresh food or back out of the deal.

“You’re not welcome here — and we’re not taking this laying down,” said protest organizer Steve Levine.

Neighbors last month began fighting the nation’s largest pharmacy chain after it announced its plans to replace the Key Foods at Prospect and 11th avenues, saying it would create a food desert that would force families and old people to trek more than a mile to Park Slope for sustenance.

More than 3,000 people — roughly one third of all households in the neighborhood — have since signed petitions pledging to boycott the pharmacy, according the movement’s organizers.

Protesters urged the chain to open a full-service food market or give up the space to a grocer that will, waving signs reading “Green beans, not Walgreens!” and “If you build it, we won’t come!” in front of the now-graffitied-covered space on the same day the pharmacy took over the lease.

Elected officials said they want Walgreens to renegotiate the lease to share some space with a grocer — noting that several store owners have expressed interest.

“It’s a business model that is beneficial to both parties,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Windsor Terrace).

It’s also in the chain’s best interest to compromise with neighbors, who are well-organized and tight-knit, he said.

“If Walgreens chooses not to work with this community, it will fail in this community,” he said.

Walgreens representatives last month agreed to provide “expanded food offerings” at the shop — but refused to define that term when contacted for specifics on Tuesday.

A spokesman, Jim Cohn, said the company plans to gather with residents and elected officials to discuss the neighborhood’s needs.

“Those discussions are ongoing [so] we cannot disclose more information at this time,” he said in a statement. “However, we do look forward to engaging in an active dialogue with community leaders.”

In 2008, Walgreens agreed to provide a small selection of produce and meat in Bay Ridge after a similar battle. But Windsor Terrace residents say they need a better selection of produce, baked goods, and fresh meat than that.

They also want a commitment from the company — pronto.

“Step up or step out,” said Borough President Markowitz, a grocery store supporter who lives in the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Steve LeVine from Windsor Terrace says:
Correct spelling of my last name is LeVine. I assisted in putting together the protest and spreading the word. The organizer was really the Windsor Terrace community.
I also do not recall saying what was quoted. Walgreens can be welcome if they actually do work with us to provide what is needed- an actual grocery store with fresh, not just prepared, food.
Aug. 2, 2012, 8:55 am
barclay's arena from windsor slope says:
Marty Markowitz supports the new home for the Nets. That was the right move, even though lots of people disagreed with his position.

Those who disagreed would have disagreed with any project on the site. They would have disagreed with the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Same factors drivingthe food store brouhaha.

Windsor Terrace residents won't boycott Walgreens after it opens. They'll quickly abandon the more costly pharmacies near by when they see the good deals offered by Walgreens.

The seniors will be on hand for opening day to watch Marty and the manager of the new Walgreens cut the ribbon and throw open the front door.
Aug. 2, 2012, 2:29 pm
Bob Harley from Windsor Terrace says:
I am one senior who will be on hand if it opens, with my "Green beans not Walgreens; Support the Boycott" sign and I won't be alone.
If Walgreens manages to put our friends in the local pharmacies out of business (as they caused our friends and neighbors who staffed Key Food to be turfed into the street) I will get my prescriptions by mail and, if I need things the local pharmacies don't carry, I will get in my car, as I do today, and go to the old Brooklyn institution, Neergards on 5th avenue.
Aug. 2, 2012, 3:52 pm
nets fan from windsor terrace says:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot of talk. How many people are going to boycott the new arena?

How many are going to boycott the new Walgreens?

After a few months of trying to pretend it's not there, people will slip in the door of the new Walgreens for a quick look and then they'll start shopping.

The drug plans will be generous. Too good to pass up.
Aug. 3, 2012, 10:57 pm
Ann from Windsor terrace says:
I live in Windsor Terrace. I am opposed to the Barclay
Center, and will not go there. In addition, not only will I NEVER go to the Walgreens in the old key food site, I will boycott all Walgreens. My prescriptions come in the mail, and there are two " mom and pop" drugstores on PPSW.
We heard over a year ago the key food was closing. I'm sure the politicians also knew. They will not be getting my vote in the future.
Walgreens is a corporate company who recently merged with Duane Reade. Their main interest is increasing their revenue, not providing fresh food.
I am pleased that my neighborhood has united with petitions and rallies to fight this corporate monster.
Aug. 4, 2012, 1:01 pm
nets fan from windsor terrace says:
Ann,

Basketball fans will go to Barclay's Arena. If you're not a fan, then you wouldn't go unless some other event that interested you happened to be on the Barclay's schedule. So, saying you won't go to watch a sporting event of no interest to you is not saying much.

Meanwhile, you've made a key point about using the local pharmacies when you say that your prescriptions come in the mail.

In other words, you've got the same relationship to pharmacies as you believe you'll have with Barclay's Arena. You don't need either one.

Thus, you're part of the demographic outside the target market of both Walgreens and Barclay's. Neither is expecting your business. Since it's clear that many other seniors also get their prescriptions in the mail, you, and they, aren't in a position to boycott Walgreens.

Politicians have NO power to intrude on legal dealings between private parties. But they always show up at new stores on opening day.
Aug. 5, 2012, 11:38 am

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