Losing a Grocery Store Changes a Neighborhood

Articles | February 22 2017

By Emily Payne, Alexina Cather, Charles Platkin, and Emma Cosgrove

Victor Papa was born in 1945 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. “Never left and never will,” said the 71-year-old president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, a community organization that serves the residential, commercial, and cultural life of the southeast edge of Manhattan through community-based programs and strategic partnerships.

When the large Pathmark grocery store in the shadows of the Manhattan Bridge closed in 2012 after nearly 30 years in business, it made the news. A&P, the company that owned Pathmark, declared bankruptcy and sold its 49 New York City locations that year. Now, the Lower East Side space is on the way to becoming luxury condos after being purchased by the real estate developer Extell. The loss stings like salt in a wound, said Papa.

“Our Pathmark was not a homey place. It wasn’t Main Street America. But it was an anchor,” he recalled. The Pathmark was a convenient place to find affordable food, but beyond that it was a place where Papa and other neighborhood residents were guaranteed to see their neighbors. And there was even a bus service to bring people to shop, Papa remembers. (Read more)