BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated May 25, 10 p.m.: There are no imminent changes regarding the future of the Morton Williams supermarket on Bleecker Street. That’s good in one way and bad in another way — that is, if you support the market remaining on its current block.
Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist representing Morton Williams, said that the supermarket’s owner has been notified by landlord New York University that there is a “two-year moratorium” on anything happening with the site, which is located at the southeast corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place.
At the end of last year, the city’s School Construction Authority announced that it would use an option to build a new public school on the Greenwich Village site. Community Board 2 has advocated for a new school at the location to serve special-needs students from across the city.
The S.C.A. has said the project would be a stand-alone school and that a supermarket would not be part of it, meaning Morton Williams — the area’s main full-service grocery market — would have to find a new home.
Meanwhile, under the N.Y.U. 2031 development plans hashed out 10 years ago for the university’s two South Village superblocks — bounded by W. Third, Houston and Mercer Streets and LaGuardia Place — space for a supermarket was supposed to have been included in the new N.Y.U. building now being completed at 181 Mercer St. on the southern superblock.
Local politicians have urged N.Y.U. to relocate the supermarket into the new Mercer Street building, writing in a joint letter at the end of last year about “the importance of keeping Morton Williams on the superblock, so residents continue to have necessary and convenient access.”
However, as previously reported by The Village Sun, it turns out that the permit subsequently issued by the Department of Buildings for the N.Y.U. Mercer project somehow no longer included space for a supermarket in the building — informally called the “Zipper Building” until it gets named after a big-bucks donor. So now none of the new structur’s space is earmarked for retail use and is instead all zoned for community facilities, which includes university uses.
In February, Councilmember Christopher Marte and other local politicians, in turn, wrote to D.O.B. calling on the agency to issue a stop-work order on construction of 181 Mercer St. until the project is modified to contain the supermarket space that N.Y.U. previously committed to include. The letter’s other signers included Borough President Mark Levine, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, state Senators Brad Hoylman and Brian Kavanagh and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler.
It doesn’t appear, though, that the pols’ letter had the desired effect. According to Buildings’ DOB NOW portal, a “Stop Work Orders Search” for 181 Mercer St. yields a result of “No Violations Found.”
An outraged Marte this week told The Village Sun that he and fellow local politicians intend to continue pushing the university to fulfill its original pledge regarding the supermarket.
“The city’s response is completely unacceptable,” he said, “and we will be working with all elected officials to make sure the community that needs a grocery store and a school get what N.Y.U. promised them. Pitting one against the other isn’t the solution, when it’s on N.Y.U. to deliver on their commitment to house a grocery store, and it’s on the S.C.A. to bring a much-needed school to this community. The previous administration has allowed N.Y.U. to consume so much of this neighborhood — a school and a grocery store seem like reasonable and simple asks in return.”
The 100,000-square-foot Zipper Building is slated for completion this fall.