The convenience of having access to fresh food on a regular basis in New York City has officially become a privilege. A new Department of City Planning study has found that underserved communities are the most likely to have supermarkets close. The New York Times covers the study as well. I don't have an understanding of the economic formula that is behind this phenomenon, other than the simple assumption that rents are outpacing margins from food prices.
About a month ago, at the Design Trust for Public Space's Paul Goldberger and Danny Meyers conversation (I believe soon you will be able to download the MP3 from the Design Trust site), there was the idea floated of providing inclusionary rents for small businesses in business districts or main street type areas as a way to maintain community character. Maybe there should be something for supermarkets as well, even if they are not in business districts. There are many micro-communities throughout New York that would not qualify as having a main street. These supermarkets do not have to be "super" either - as long as they did provide produce, not just packaged foods which are now available drug stores and gas stations, and they should be accessible without a car for the most vulnerable populations.
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