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Greene Hill Food Co-Op to Lose Lease

By Alexandra Leon | July 14, 2016 5:50pm | Updated on July 15, 2016 2:01pm
 The Greene Hill Food Co-Op, at 18 Putnam Ave., was served a notice of lease termination after the building's owners told them they would be selling the building, according to the co-op.
The Greene Hill Food Co-Op, at 18 Putnam Ave., was served a notice of lease termination after the building's owners told them they would be selling the building, according to the co-op.
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Facebook/Greene Hill Coop

CLINTON HILL — The Greene Hill Food Co-op could be forced to move from its current location as the building’s owners seek to sell the property, the co-op's president said.

The co-op received notice on June 29 that the landlords will be terminating the building’s lease to sell the property at 18 Putnam Ave., co-op president Keith Almon told DNAinfo.

Almon said the notice to terminate the five-year lease, which was just renewed for another five years, came as a complete surprise.

The terms of the lease, which will end effective Sept. 30, allow for the property owner to terminate the contract if the owner intends to sell the building, Almon said. The co-op will have 90 days after Sept. 30 to vacate. 

The building is owned by the family of Renee Collymore, whose father Cecil Collymore was a local businessman who invested in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill when few were willing to in the '70s and '80s.

Almon said the co-op, which has been on Putnam Avenue for six years, intends to work with the building’s prospective buyer to stay at the current location.

“The Greene Hill Food Co-op is dedicated to serving the Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights communities,” Almon said in a statement. “We are committed to providing ethically sourced, socially responsible food products to the neighborhood and to remaining in the community. We intend to keep our members informed of and engage in any developments in a timely manner.”

Renee Collymore said Friday that her family did not tell the co-op it would be selling the building and that her family has been asking the co-op to pay market rent for the location.

“I enjoy having the co-op, I love the co-op, but I cannot let my family suffer because they’re there,” Collymore said. “My family cannot continue to go into debt over the co-op.”

Collymore said the co-op has been paying $2,500 per month in rent. She did not say how much her family has asked the co-op to pay.

“Putnam Avenue is not the back woods; this is prime real estate,” Collymore said.

Greene Hill's co-founder DK Holland said that when the co-op re-signed its five-year lease in February, the landlords agreed to keep the rent at $2,500 — which is why the lease termination came as a surprise five months later.

“They’ve been really generous to us, they gave us a reasonable rent for all the years we were there, and they saw the co-op as being part of the community,” Holland said. 

“When you have to relocate a community asset, then you’re changing the community.”

Property records show the building has yet to change hands. Cecil Collymore bought the building in 1984 from the city for $4,500, records show.

On Thursday, the City Council approved the controversial naming of the block of Putnam Avenue where the co-op is located after Cecil Collymore.