A & P buys Pathmark, but closing still appears likely


By Julie Shapiro

As customers of the Cherry St. Pathmark waited anxiously to hear whether the store would close, Pathmark’s stockholders approved the sale of the company to A & P last week. The merger, announced last March, will not be final until the end of December.

Pathmark has not responded to rumors of the 227 Cherry St. store’s closure, and documents filed with the Securities Exchange Commission in October may explain why.

For the next several months, until the merger is complete, Pathmark cannot “terminate or close any store, office, plant or warehouse or make any announcement of the intention to do so,” according to an agreement between Pathmark and A & P.

The rumors spread after store employees told shoppers the store was closing and contractors took soil samples at the site in October, apparently in preparation to develop the site.

More details about Pathmark’s future emerged after Victor Papa, president and director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, Inc., met with Cherry Street L.L.C., the company leasing the land to Pathmark.

Pathmark has 42 years remaining on its long-term lease and is not obligated to use the land for a supermarket. Because of the long lease, “the owner of that site has very little control” over future plans, Papa said.

Papa helped bring Pathmark to the area in 1983 as part of Urban Renewal and does not want to see it leave.

“A supermarket is important to that community,” he said.

As rumors of the closure spread, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver weighed in.

“There is no reason to believe the rumors are not true,” Silver told Downtown Express. But he is far from giving up, and said, “The neighborhood needs a full-service supermarket.”

Several other recent signs hint at the store’s closure.

The New York Community Bank has a branch inside of Pathmark, but last week, customers of the bank received a letter saying that the branch would close by the end of January.

A bank representative confirmed the closing but declined to state the reason.

“Obviously something is afoot,” said Joann Floyd, a bank customer who lives at Cherry and Montgomery Sts.

Late last week, Floyd said Silver’s office told her that the Pathmark was definitely closing, and referred to it as “a done deal.” Silver’s office denied having any information and said no one had spoken to Floyd.

Over the past few weeks, plans for 50-story residential towers on the Pathmark site have circulated among elected officials and community leaders. Developers have not confirmed whether the drawings, which show a supermarket on the ground floor, are still an option. One of them, Jazmin Stricker of the Developer Resource Group, said a few weeks ago that the plans are old and the current plan is to close the store.

The plans are from 2005 and are not as recent as some have speculated, Susan Stetzer, district manager at Community Board 3, told Downtown Express last week.

“There is something happening right now, but we don’t know what it is,” Stetzer said. She has seen “no evidence” for Donald Trump’s rumored involvement.

“What happens to the site is anyone’s guess,” Papa said. “We’re watching it.”