Brennan: Walgreens, Key Food Negotiating Possible Collaboration

The assemblyman said the drugstore mega-chain is in talks with a local grocer to share the space at 589 Prospect Ave.

The signs have been ripped down, but there's still hope for a Key Food at 589 Prospect Ave.—at least in part.

Assemblyman Jim Brennan confirmed Monday night that Walgreens—tentatively slated to open its doors in the former Key Food space next spring—is in the process of negotiating with a nearby Key Food to collaborate on a dual pharmacy and grocery store that would meet the demands of residents, who for months have been waging war against the drug chain through rallies, petitions and pledges to boycott the store.

But Brennan warned that discussions with the pharmacy giant are nascent.

"There is not a decision or a completed negotiation yet," he told the crowd of roughly 50 residents assembled at Holy Name of Jesus Church for the latest meeting of Green Beans not Walgreens, a community movement dedicated to ensuring that fresh produce is brought back to Windsor Terrace.

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"We do not know what is going to happen. But we do know they are talking to each other," he said, adding that more information should be available by the end of October.

This is a sea change from Walgreens' stance only a few months ago, when representatives dismissed requests from elected officials and community members to consider sharing the space with a grocery.

Lauren Elvers Collins, co-founder of the Windsor Terrace Alliance, attended an initial meeting with Walgreens officials in June, and came away less than optimistic about the company's willingness to work with the community.

"I didn't get the sense in June they were interested in looking into the grocery option," she said. "It does seem like they've changed their approach dramatically."

If Walgreens has changed its mind, it may be because Windsor Terrace is sending a message that has become impossible to ignore.

Almost 5,000 residents—representing 60 percent of the Windsor Terrace population—have signed a petition in protest of Walgreens, said Ryan Lynch, a Green Beans organizer and member of Community Board 7.

The group has also released a list of demands, specifying what exactly it wants to see in a grocery store, and began publishing a bi-weekly newsletter called the Green Beans Gazette to keep the community apprised of the latest news from the front lines.

But Lynch reminded the crowd that the war has not been won.

“The theme of this evening is that it's working, but we’re not there yet," he said.

"We need to keep the pressure on them in the weeks and months ahead.”

dorkofwindsor October 02, 2012 at 04:08 PM
people signed that thing just to be nice and avoid confrontation with the mouth breathers. an abundance of transient renters on the list. if Walgreens did their own market research, they'd probably find that more desirable customers would like a nice Union Market, and boy would that be controversial with the bullies. The loudest are not necessarily the most lucrative long term customers, who have even yet to move into the neighborhood.
Steve LeVine October 02, 2012 at 04:37 PM
@dorkofwindsor- not sure what you are even talking about? Who are the bullies? Everyone is invited to participate as much or as little as they can/want. Nobody is dictating what should be done- this is a pure grass-roots movement with no ulterior motive other than to see that the needs of the majority of the community is met while considering those who are in most need. The efforts of Green Beans Not Walgreens, reaching out directly to Mr. Geller and Walgreens, has never said what the food market should be other than the desired size, what kinds of (fresh) foods need to be provided and how much. Union Market would be a welcome edition, in my opinion. They just announced yesterday that they are opening another location in Park Slope in the former Sette restaurant location, so they are still open to expansion. If Walgreens did their market research throughly, they would see they are actually not welcomed in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood by most of the community. You will be free to shop there if they choose to stay whereas many other people will exercise their free market right not to shop there.
dorkofwindsor October 02, 2012 at 05:03 PM
@Steve Levine are you kidding me? Directly to Walgreens and Mr Geller? What about posting signs and holding obnoxious protests? Signs in windows that broadcast through people who don't care and illegal flyers on lamp posts. Not sure how that is direct (direct through my eyes and ears i suppose). If people making vocal public demands are not bullies, then what are they? An oppressed people? You would think their civil rights have been violated because the store they wanted didn't get opened. In the most accessible city with convenient public transportation in the USA. Because they won't be able to run to the next block for the spice they ran out of during their holiday meal? And as for senior citizens, there are programs and community organizers to assist that problem; that issue is addressable. BTW - i have a hard time believing that a union market would not be met with age and income wars. I hear them being nasty to deli owners who charge $3 for a sandwich. I just heard a retired old-timer tell someone to go back to the midwestern state where they came from and take their walgreens with them. Not bullies?
ruth October 03, 2012 at 12:47 AM
i do not see the protesters as bullies at all. they are voicing their opinion. our community has pharmacy options but not a supermarket. my kids and i do not need more chips and soda in the hood as we have enough bodegas. we need access to real food for cooking real meals. as for union market...their prices are too high for many residents and their offerings are too high end to reasonably feed large families. but they are certainly a better option than nothing....
campj October 03, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Maybe dorkofwindsor you should have been at the meeting and participated!! The people that where there are ALL long time Windsor Terrace residents!! And these are the people who need a grocery store in this neighborhood!!
Katie October 03, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I agree with dork of windsor, you do not have the divine right to have a supermarket in your neighborhood. Its capitalism, don't patronize the place and they will go out of business. Let the free market work itself out.
brooklynrhubarb October 03, 2012 at 05:49 PM
@Katie & @dorkofwindsor.... Am I misreading what's happening here? Walgreens in their own divine capitalist right, have decided to open a store where it is not needed or desired by majority of the residents. And said residents are exercising their divine democratic right to voice their displeasure with, shine light upon, and possibly have the situation addressed to adhere to their desires before they are up and running. should they stick their heads in the sand and wait for store to be fully stocked and open and running before they "act", in this case as you suggest action to be to "don't patronize the place and they will go out of business. Let the free market work itself out." Not sure I agree that the free market is doing so well as to "work itself out" in this, and many other instances. As long as those who have get more and more of what they want, they seem happy to pee down on the the rest of us so we get our trickle... As long as they get more first, trickle down works great!
brooklynrhubarb October 03, 2012 at 05:57 PM
There are many sides to this situation and everyone will see it differently. Would be nice if we could at least agree we don't all have a singular vision and allow the community to voice their individual opinions... if everyone can freely speak, without being shouted down and/or insulted, then at the very least an honest consensus can be determined... and not for nothing, but you speak of bullies...? read your own words... are you not bullying people by insulting and demeaning them in an attempt to get them to stop speaking up for what they believe in?
Joe Goersch October 03, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I think brooklyn hubarb has summarized it well. There have been many open meetings with many points of view. Just like here, many different opinions. Unlike the comments here, people were all civil and no name calling ensued. There are pretty limited options for people without a car- not so easy to carry groceries on a bus if frail. II personally would love a Union Market, but it might not be loved by all. I think the free market works in general and in the long run, but may not optimize situations in the short run. For example, if someone leases a buding for 30 years, it may be cheaper to run an unneeded enterprise than break a lease.
Dudley Escobar October 03, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Of course, those who give their money to Walgreen's will, presumably, be receiving various goods and sundries in exchange, so it's not as if Walgreen's is stealing from anyone. So if it is "not needed" as you say, then the store will go out of business, correct? And if it manages to stay in business, they it will turn out that you were wrong, correct? I think it's great that the neighborhood is (now) peacefully attempting to find some sort of compromise. Of course, this strategy wasn't the initial one suggested by many. At the start of this whole debacle, there were plenty of people calling on our local representatives (Marty Markowitz, Brad Lander, Bloomberg, etc.) to outright STOP Walgreen's from opening a store. Revoke the necessary licenses. Zone the lot for nothing but a supermarket. That sort of thing. You should consider that these requests painted the "protestors" in a very bad light and helped to bring about this backlash against what many (myself included) perceive as being a truly criminal way to go about getting what you want. The simple facts are that the former owner had every right to sell or lease his land to anyone he chose, Walgreen's has the right to be that choice and open their store, and only the demand, or lack of demand, for their services will ultimately decide whether they are "not needed or desired". All the meetings, protests, and online comments in the world won't change that.
BRADY October 04, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I still don't get the whole issue, Geller closed up shop ,put his property on the market for a thirty year lease , and leased it to whoever met his requirements ,why is wallgreens the bad guy here ,wallgreens is a drugstore chain not a supermarket chain, Geller knew this when all parties signed the lease agreement i'm sure that if wallgreens backed out now the'd owe Geller all thirty years worth of payments ,how many high ,middle and lowend supermarket chains operate in the five boroughs ?yet none of them took the opportunity in a neighborhood with no other close competition?
Lauren Thompson October 04, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Well said. I agree.
The Real Jessica Silver October 04, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The ONLY POINT that is relevant her is that WINDSOR TERRACE has no supermarket. Period. If everyone had a car or was mobile, there would be no problem, but that isn't the case. Anecdotal evidence experienced by YOU and your pals is not EVIDENCE. What people want and need is access to FRESH FOOD, preferably in a place that doesn't charge .79 cents for a banana. Being snide and complacent and contemptuous and arrogant safely behind a computer keyboard, passing judgement on people you disagree with no matter whether you're for or against Walgreens is missing the point. WE NEED A SUPERMARKET. If this was a case of a bunch of yuppies getting annoyed because they had to drive their Beetles another half mile to buy organic arugula you'd have a point. But it isn't. Get over yourselves.
WTmom October 04, 2012 at 05:46 PM
No way to Union Market! I don't need an extremely overpriced supermarket and I doubt the senior citizens on fixed budgets would want this either. We need a regular supermarket that has specials and is moderately priced. I would love Trader Joes but it would not suit this quiet neighborhood.
WTmom October 04, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I think the Walgreens and Key Food in one is a perfect solution to this problem. I hate when people talking about this subject say they already have access to pharmacies and we don't need one. The pharmacies on PPW are close to Park Slope but not close to where I live in the Terrace. I would love to have a pharmacy close by instead of having to drive to Kensington. People should stop speaking for other people and need to understand we all have different needs and wants here.
dorkofwindsor October 04, 2012 at 09:00 PM
The "ONLY POINT" to you perhaps. Not everyone has two pharmacies on PPW. You see, for those people who work in manhattan (i know, the horror) and with no stay at home wife, or are not retired, there are not two usable pharmacies in WT. (check the local hours, and what time professionals are through commuting). For people who would prefer to not get sick on a Sunday, but do anyways, there is also no local pharmacy. For all those people who like the merchandise at a drug store like you could find at the end of the last century, there is no drug store. A supermarket would be fantastic, why not - a shake shack would be divine too, since WT is a hamburger desert - but if it is another "reasonably priced" piece of junk like we just had, no thanks. Walgreens please. However, i'm not going to place signs that say "for the love of god, someone who knows how to run a business please open something in Windsor Terrace". You know, like a decent restaurant that has a dish invented after 1930? I'm going to guess that few intelligent educated persons of resource probably would want to hang their shingle here, after seeing how the local fauna embrace business that isn't what they wanted.
dorkofwindsor October 04, 2012 at 09:34 PM
"without being shouted down". sorry, who has done all the shouting around WT? Pretty sure it was with megaphones to boot. Lets get something straight once and for all - and lets not mince words OK? We had several p-r-o-t-e-s-t-s in which a list of d-e-m-a-n-d-s have continually been given. As if they represent the community. MY community as well, lets not forget. Putting words made of big brown piles of dung in MY mouth. That was after a behind the scene underhanded attempt to squeeze the politicians to find a way to nullify a perfectly legal lease (which at the time they thought was a sale). They get signatures after asking "would you like to sign this in support of a supermarket?" Sure, why not! More of everything for everyone! Then they use it as a tool of war. Oh, the poor poor insulted and indigent people of windsor terrace. They need so much of our sympathy.
BRADY October 05, 2012 at 01:12 AM
yes Wallgreens and KeyFood in one is a perfect solution. But WTmom, Geller closed the KeyFood and leased it to wallgreens because he and his family did not want to run a supermarket anymore!Wallgreens is a DRUGSTORE CHAIN! not a SUPERMARKETCHAIN ! while it might benefit wallgreens to change it's corporate structure to accommodate windsor terrace why exactly would they do that if all the supermarketchains in new york city would'nt open a supermarket in this spot ,why would wallgreens change what they do as a business and i'll say it again WHY DID'NT SOMEONE OPEN ANOTHER SUPERMARKET AT THIS LOCATION ! WHY DID THE GELLER FAMILY GIVE A THIRTY YEAR LEASE TO WALLGREENS! guess what people the lease has already been signed all of you who think that the local idiot politicans will deny permits or force wallgreens to change into something that they aren't are fooling themselves the lease already says that wallgreens cannot do any architectural changes to the building so what permits are there to deny, wallgreens is not in the business of selling fresh food so what permits are there to deny,the property has been zoned as commercial for over thirty years so again what would anyone tell wallgreens as to why they can't open.of course this is new york so any dirty backroom politics could happen as long as enough strings are pulled, but tell me does windsor terrace have enough pull,the local press is the only place i've read about this
BRADY October 05, 2012 at 01:21 AM
where oh where is denis hamill !you can read all his other ''WHEN I GREW UP IN'' neighborhood stories in a major local newspaper or in his books but not this ongoing problem affecting the neighborhood he grew up in
Jamie Silverstein October 05, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Some have commented that the bullies were those who protested the opening of Walgreens. I call that Free Speech. We petitioned our elected representatives for assistance in voicing concern over the opening of a Walgreens in the Keyfood space. We amassed a large body of citizens of Windsor Terrace who expressed their opinions directly to Walgreens representatives. We got signatures in protest of opening a Walgreens. We continued to keep in contact with the elected representatives. If anyone opposed this, they could have voiced their concerns at the meetings, had counter meetings, gathered signatures, had dialogues with elected representatives. Walgreens in their limited wisdom, has chosen to try to find a compromise. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than a cookie cutter big box pharmacy? Maybe. Is the system working? I think a lot better than many here have expressed. Private enterprise working with the community, whose voice has been aided by elected officials.
ABC123 October 06, 2012 at 01:00 AM
sir your fundamental question has been asked and answered in this forum a dozen times over. The short version is that wallgreens has deep enough pockets to meet the asking price, not that they didn't want it but that wallgreens offered more favorable terms and conditions.
BRADY October 06, 2012 at 03:06 AM
ABC123,sir how exactly has the question been asked and answered in this forum a dozen times over?''wallgreens has deep enough pockets to meet the asking price''?i'm sorry but i have'nt heard that a dozen times but i have heard that windsor terrace does'nt want wallgreens a dozen times. ''not that they did'nt want it but that wallgreens offered more favorable terms and conditions''i haven't heard that either and who exactly is THEY ? are you talking about the GELLER family and no ABC123 i still have'nt heard once or a dozen times why geller isn't at any way held responsible for leasing his property to a drugstore chain and not a supermarket chain .so no sir my question or my comment has not been answered a dozen times over it's been the same nonsense about how bad wallgreens is for leasing this property and lets protest wallgreens but nothing about the GELLER FAMILY who leased it to them from them for thirty years and how windsor terrace is trying to force a drugstore chain to open a supermarket so no ABC 123 i've asked the same question and made the same comment in different ways a dozen times but never recieved an answer to any of them why don't you try reading some or all of the comments that we've all typed and then answer me my one question PLEASE WHY IS WALLGREENS SO EVIL FOR RENTING THIS EMPTY SPACE AND THE OWNER IS NOT EVIL FOR RENTING IT TO THEM IT'S UP TO THE OWNER WHO THE PROPERTY GETS LEASED TO
BRADY October 06, 2012 at 09:28 AM
You gotta love those CAPS, i would have written the whole diatribe in them but fortunately i haven't lost all my sanity, what it comes down to is KeyFood is gone and the neighborhood has no close / convienient supermarket of comparable size, which will be a pain in the ass for everyone
Dudley Escobar October 08, 2012 at 03:38 PM
"IT'S UP TO THE OWNER WHO THE PROPERTY GETS LEASED TO" Glad you finally figured that part out, at least.
BRADY October 09, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Dudley,figured that one out a long time ago ,never got an answer though, what other parts can you help me out with, at least.


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