CLINTON HILL — The owner of the building housing the Greene Hill Food Co-op is taking the affordable grocer to court in order to evict the business, after the cooperative failed to heed a previous order to leave, court documents show.
The landlord is trying to kick the co-op out of its space at 18 Putnam Ave., saying the business ignored a June order to leave to leave the property, according to a petition filed in civil court on Nov. 7.
Renee Collymore, whose family owns the building, said they are evicting the co-op because it has refused to pay market-rate rents on the 2,700-square-foot space.
“They need to understand that you cannot be on that many lots of commercial property and pay next to pennies for the rest of your life,” she told DNAinfo. “We’re going in the hole because of them.”
Collymore said the co-op, which has been in the space since 2010, had initially agreed to pay market-rate rent when its five-year lease expired in February. She declined to say how much her family has asked the co-op to pay.
However, Greene Hill's co-founder DK Holland gave a different story.
She said that when the grocer signed a new five-year lease in February, the landlord agreed to raise the rent just $100 to $2,600 per month — which is why the lease termination came as a surprise five months later.
“We never said we would pay market rate at the end of the [initial] five-year lease,” Holland said.
The new lease — signed by Beatrice and Lakeysha Collymore, as well as a representative for the co-op — shows the grocer's monthly rent as being $2,600 effective Dec. 1, 2015.
Holland said she believes the Collymore family is evicting the co-op in order to sell the building, because under the terms of the new lease, the landlord can only terminate the contract if the owner enters into a "purchase sale agreement."
The petition to evict the co-op says the landlord is "exercising her option to terminate the lease agreement upon the entering of a purchase sale agreement," documents show.
Renee Collymore denied that the family is selling the building, and property records show the address has yet to change hands. The Collymore family's lawyer did not return multiple calls for comment.
Cecil Collymore — the family patriarch known for investing in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the '70s and '80s — bought the building in 1984 from the city for $4,500, records show.
Members of the co-op spoke at a Community Board 2 meeting this week, asking for the community’s support in keeping the grocer at 18 Putnam Ave.
“Our members are considered shareholders invested in maintaining a healthy, socially responsible community,” co-op members said in a prepared statement. “We are a community asset, owned and operated entirely by the members of our community. In addition to providing access to quality foods near wholesale prices, we support the local economy as an employer and a retailer.”
The co-op is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 3.