When The Commercial Observer spoke with Ken Barnes last month at the International Council of Shopping Centers, the senior director of northeast regional development at 7-Eleven laid out bold plans for the convenience chain’s continued expansion throughout Manhattan.
“We can’t open more New York locations fast enough,” Mr. Barnes said. “Every neighborhood is a target.” As the company hopes to add 100 more Manhattan locations to its 32 current outposts across the borough, one neighborhood isn’t taking the bullseye on its back lightly.
Alphabet City is fighting for its right to shop at independently-owned 24-hour destinations for late night beer and hygienic product runs.
A number of locals spoke out against the 7-Eleven last September upon hearing the early reports of its arrival at 170 Avenue A. There’s been a steady stream of opposition–and anti-7-11 chalkings–ever since. While there are already four 7-Elevens in the East Village, the company–and most other large chains–have largely stayed west of the neighborhood’s relatively funky eastern section with the alphabetized avenue names.
Now, the neighborhood appears set to move beyond street art and sticker protests and is floating potential legislation to stanch the chain store incursion. The New York Times reports that a group of 40 locals last week floated the idea of legislative action that would require public hearings and city planning commission approval for any proposed chain businesses in the district bounded by Houston Street, East 14th Street and Avenues A and D.
Meanwhile, representatives for 7-Eleven assert that the neighborhood is a target because of its “young adults and young families on a budget” and presumably move toward Mr. Barnes’ ambition for 30 signed leases in 2013.