Volume 22, Number 01 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 15 - 21, 2009

Sifting through the grocery study

Lower Manhattan may or may not need another grocery store based on a study the Dept. of City Planning did last year.

The study does not rank Lower Manhattan among the highest-need neighborhoods in the city, but it does say Downtown could use another grocery store. However, the city did the study based on 2006 population data and 2007 supermarket data, which means the study doesn’t take into account either the Financial District’s recent population boom (which increased the need) or the opening of the Tribeca Whole Foods last summer (which decreased the need).

City Planning said the ideal is to have 30,000 square feet of supermarket space for every 10,000 people, and the only two neighborhoods in the city that meet that standard are Chelsea and Midtown, City Planning spokesperson Rachaele Raynoff said. Lower Manhattan has more grocery stores than the city average of 15,000 square feet for every 10,000 people, Raynoff said.

Still, some Community Board 1 members were offended that City Planning’s study did not highlight what residents see as the neighborhood’s desperate need for groceries. Instead, the study shows greater need in neighborhoods like Bushwick and Washington Heights, in part because residents had less transportation access to healthier foods.

Raynoff said the study determined need by a number of factors in addition to population and square footage of supermarkets, including income, access to cars and public transportation, consumption of fruits and vegetables and incidence of diabetes and obesity. Just because Lower Manhattan was not among the city’s highest need neighborhoods does not mean that Downtown couldn’t support another grocery store, Raynoff said.

— Julie Shapiro










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