Hope spreads to bring Trader Joe’s to new Chase Plaza

The possibility that a Trader Joe’s may be part of the new retail at 28 Liberty Plaza, formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza, sent the Financial District Committee atwitter.

“When I met with Fosun Properties, I mentioned since they said retail, how about Trader Joe’s? To my great surprise, they said we have the same thought and we’re going to be talking to them,” said Ro Sheffe, chairperson of the Community Board 1 committee, referring to the Chinese company that brought the tower for $725 million and is poised to renovate the plaza.

“Great,” was the reaction to the news from other committee members.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed about that,” said Sheffe.The chance that a Trader Joe’s might join the neighborhood was salient as the committee also had on the docket at their Wed., Apr. 1 meeting to talk about the dearth of grocery stores in the Financial District.

Committee member Deron Charkoudian brought up the issue and said that while “lugging my groceries back from Trader Joe’s in Union Square,” he thought about the lack of supermarkets.

He ticked off nearby stores — Jubilee Market Place and the Key Food in the Seaport. While Gristedes is in the neighborhood, he isn’t a fan.

“As far as I know there is no other grocery store in the Financial District,” said Charkoudian.

Sheffe concurred, saying, “It’s Fresh Direct territory.”

Around 1997, Sheffe recalled that they were facing the same problem and the Downtown Alliance somehow encouraged Amish Market to open up near the World Trade Center site. It was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“It was a very different time,” said Michael Ketring, an Alliance executive and a committee member. “There was nothing down here. I don’t see something like that happening [now].”

Committee public member Luis Vazquez said, “When you mentioned Trader Joe’s as a possibility at Chase, that’s great.”

Vazquez said that on the Trader Joe’s website, there is a form to recommend a store location. He said he periodically posts on his Facebool FiDi Fan Page to encourage people to write in and say they want a location in the Financial District. Trader Joe’s would draw a lot of people to the retail at 28 Liberty Plaza, which is an ideal place for the supermarket, said Vazquez, a real estate broker.

Fosun’s plan to transform the plaza with glass storefronts requires city Landmarks approvals and C.B. 1 has raised objections to that part of the proposal. That did not come up at Wednesday’s meeting.

Trader Joe’s declined to comment.

“Everybody loves Trader Joe’s,” said Sheffe, who wants a grocery and wine store like the one in Union Square.

C.B. 1 Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes agreed, “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like Trader Joe’s.”