Just about everyone who has ever grocery-shopped in NYC felt a pang at the recent news that beloved local grocery chain Fairway had filed for bankruptcy. Who among us hasn't browsed their bulk bin snacks, or at the larger locations, ducked into the freezer room for a respite on a sweltering summer day?
But for residents in neighborhoods like Red Hook and Harlem where Fairway's not just the only game in town, grocery-wise, but something of an economic anchor, the news isn't just sad, it's worrying. What would happen if the grocery hub that residents have become so dependent on shuts down? And given how the presence of high-end grocery stores has been shown to boost property values in a given neighborhood, if a grocery store leaves, could the reverse be true?
For now, Fairway officials have said that they plan to keep all of their locations open, and that "customers should see no impact," as Crain's reports. But even if that changes, the loss of the chain might not necessarily be disastrous. "In more 'emerging' markets like Red Hook and Harlem, there's more risk when you have a major amenity [like a grocery store] in the market go away," says Miller Samuel appraiser Jonathan Miller. "But while it's certainly not helpful, it's also not the end of the world."
The key, says Miller, is how quickly a new business could swoop into replace a shuttered grocery store, and to keep neighborhood momentum moving forward. (This would be far less of a concern on, say, the Upper West Side, where the loss of Fairway would be felt, but values are steady and there are other major grocery options, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, easily available.) Without a replacement, Miller says, the loss of such a major amenity might lead to slower sales activity, and possibly even an impact on local home prices, but, he cautions, "I do see that as the extreme scenario."
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