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Affordable Grocery Store Wants Cheap Space Across from Port Authority

By Mathew Katz | June 6, 2013 4:59pm | Updated on June 7, 2013 8:32am
 The authority would need to lease out the space, which locals want as a permanent home for the grocer.
The Big Apple Meat Market wants to move into this space across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
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HELL'S KITCHEN — One of the neighborhood's few affordable grocery stores is hoping to get a discount on rent at a huge space across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Locals say the space at 551 Ninth Ave. — the former home of Project FIND's Coffee House — would be a perfect spot for the Big Apple Meat Market. The grocer moved from its longtime home on Ninth Avenue and West 41st Street to a smaller location several blocks south.

The Port Authority  — which owns the space — would have to agree to lease it to the grocer, and locals hope the agency gives them a break on rent.

"Residents here are rallying around this cause and want the Port Authority to provide a relatively low lease," said Kathleen Treat of the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association, one of the groups leading the push.

"We need it to expand into this larger space."

The grocery store's current location at 529 Ninth Ave. can't accommodate wheelchairs or strollers, and much of the stock is on a lower level that's hard for seniors and disabled shoppers to get to.

Locals consider the store a "community resource" in an area with very few affordable grocery options.

The no-frills Big Apple Meat Market is so popular that it caused a mild panic after some locals though it had closed for good when it moved in January.

At a meeting Wednesday night, Community Board 4 gave its support to the proposal, in the hopes of providing a permanent home for the store, which it called in a letter a "great benefit to the Hell's Kitchen community."

"It's a low-cost, very affordable supermarket — that we don't have," said board member Joe Restuccia. "I think it's important for the community board to support long-term tenants seeking affordable space in this community."

A manager at the store could not immediate comment on the negotiations, though there was a poster supporting the proposed deal inside the store.

Chris Valens, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said the agency is actively looking for a tenant for the space.

"We have conducted meetings with several interested parties, including Big Apple Meat Market, as we continue to market the space," he said.