As corporate chains systematically drain every last scintilla of uniqueness out of New York City, one locally-owned business is desperately trying to avoid becoming a statistic. Popular Cobble Hill greengrocer Pacific Green, located on the corner of Pacific and Court streets, is being pushed out to make way for a J Crew and an ever-increasing feeling that this could be anywhere. Co-owner Billy Solmaz says that in 2000 he signed a 15 year lease for the ground floor establishment, and he's willing to battle the landlord in court for breaking the lease.
"We are going to court and we will try to do our best," Solmaz, who immigrated to NYC from Turkey, tells Brooklyn Paper. "We are fighting. [The landlord] said he doesn’t want us to stay anymore,” said Solmaz, who added that he even offered to pay a higher rent so Pacific Green could remain. “He said that he’s not negotiating. He wants to give the place to a big corporation." The landlord could not be reached for comment.
In his petition intended to save the store, which is favored by locals for its gourmet sundries, area resident Carl Foner writes, "The owners of Pacific Green have offered to pay more money, but the landlord has not changed his mind. Locally owned businesses are part of the fabric of communities. They provide good jobs, they put money back into the community, and they support and understand the issues affecting the community. National chains don't have that same connection to the community."
Another Cobble Hill resident adds, "Many of the specialty goods that they carry are made in Brooklyn, and most definitely cannot be found across the street at Trader Joe's. Grocers like Pacific Green are an essential part of what makes Cobble Hill a unique community and I hate to see it pushed out by a retailer as ubiquitous as J.Crew. We have slowly watched chain stores and corporate retailers—Trader Joe's, Chipotle, Lululemon, and that new chain organic burger store—move onto Court Street and push out locally owned establishments. At some point we have to ask what it is doing to our neighborhood and its residents. I would hate to walk down Court and not know if I'm in Cobble Hill or Boston's Newbury Street, but at this rate there will be very little difference."
To be sure, not everyone is feeling outraged. Gothamist staffer Josh Steele, who lives in Carroll Gardens and buys his serrano chiles at Pacific Green, says, "While I sympathize with the owners of the market and the tenants of the building, with Union market a few blocks to the south, Trader Joe's across the street and Sahadi's on Atlantic maybe a J Crew will give the neighborhood something it doesn't already have." Steele then popped the collar on his slim microdot shirt in faded twilight, took a long triumphant sip from his Starbucks Frappuccino, and cranked up the Dave Matthews Band while making an online reservation for a romantic dinner at Applebee's.