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The facade of a gray one-story supermarket is branded with “Morton Williams” in red text. Under the supermarket name, there is text in white letters that reads “The Fresh Marketplace.”

A Morton Williams supermarket — which is one of the only grocery stores in the Greenwich Village area — will not be displaced from the neighborhood, according to university president Andrew Hamilton and a group of elected city officials.

The supermarket, located on a lot owned by NYU on Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place, has been the center of a years-long dispute between the university and Greenwich Village residents. The grocery store was previously set to be demolished without plans to replace it, due to NYU’s real estate development plans.

The university announced on Tuesday, Nov. 1, that if the Morton Williams is demolished due to construction, it will find a new location for the store nearby. A university spokesperson said that NYU has not yet found a replacement lot.

“We are happy that the university is being proactive on behalf of the supermarket and the residents who rely on it,” said Avi Kaner, the owner of several Morton Williams locations across New York City. “Much credit goes to members of the local community who have been vocal in support of saving the supermarket.”

As part of NYU’s Core Plan, a development project announced in 2007 by former university president John Sexton, NYU planned to construct buildings totaling approximately six million square feet. The plan included 181 Mercer, a billion-dollar building that will add more classrooms, recreational areas and residences to the Washington Square campus.

During the approval process for 181 Mercer in 2012, NYU formed an agreement with the New York City School Construction Authority. It allowed the SCA — which manages the construction of schools in New York City — to build a public school on the lot, jeopardizing the supermarket’s ongoing lease. The agreement was extended twice from the end of 2014 to the end of 2021, leaving community members unsure of Morton Williams’ future on the lot.

The SCA finally established its plan to build a public school in November of last year, further threatening Morton Williams’ ongoing lease with the university. Construction of the school, which would occupy a 100,000 square-foot space on the $65 million lot, is slated to start by the end of next year.

Despite his optimism about NYU’s relocation announcement, Kaner said that he does not want Morton Williams to move from its current location. He noted that the supermarket renewed its lease for 20 additional years last April, and said he would “do everything in [his] power to continue to supply fresh food to the West Village.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York state Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state senators Brad Hoylman and Brian Kavanagh — who signed the Nov. 1 statement — also accused the university of wrongly blaming issues with the lot on lower Manhattan elected officials in a New York Daily News op-ed earlier this year. They called for NYU to provide space for the grocery store, as well as construct the school, which the university has now agreed to do.

Greenwich Village resident Anthony Milone said that he relies on the Morton Williams since it is the only supermarket that is close to where he lives, and it is open late enough for him to buy groceries after work.

“I want the supermarket to stay,” Milone said. “It’s very crucial to the community. It’s really helpful to a lot of people here who get out of work late, so anything we can do to keep this, I know would be better for the community.”

University spokesperson John Beckman said NYU originally considered incorporating the grocery store into the 181 Mercer development project, and noted how it was not a requirement. However, the university decided against the plan because it thought the market would be able to stay in its current location.

Beckman also said that the university had no reason to believe that the SCA would use the lot because it did not show an intent to do so during the construction and design process of 181 Mercer.

“Morton Williams is and has been a good tenant, one which we had every intention of keeping in its current location at Bleecker and LaGuardia for years to come,” Beckman wrote to WSN. “Realizing that the SCA may decide to proceed with the eventual construction of a public school at the Morton Williams site, we have been regularly canvassing the neighborhood and, in fact, identified several potential sites that upon closer inspection have not met the size requirement or posed other impediments.”

Steinhardt administrator Kelsey Cook said that although the addition of a public school will be beneficial to the neighborhood, she thinks that maintaining the supermarket’s current location is important for residents and community members who rely on the store.

“You still have to think about community life here — that’s really important,” Cook said. “There just have to be affordable food sources, so as long as the city planning is considering that, that would be great.”

Contact Carmo Moniz at cmoniz@nyunews.com.

This story NYU vows to save Morton Williams supermarket appeared first on Washington Square News.

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