I just blogged about Hi-Lo closing.
I'm curious, which would you rather, Whole Food or Trader Joe's or what alternatives would you suggest?
How would this benefit our community and who would it hurt?
If we feel strongly about this, we can weigh in. Before we do, we need to carefully take into who our who really represents - and work to ensure all voices are heard.
This post was edited to after feedback from the comments at 7:38 pm.
Why is it ok to have Dunkin Donuts (National Chain) and Stop and Shop (National Chain) but not Whole Foods? Yes, I understand Dunkin was once the local chain, but it's not now and will never revert back to the local chain.
I'm more stressed by the ghost town that Hyde Sq is becoming. I live right on Centre and see the empty Bella Luna building (have any of you noticed that it only has 3 tenants? The bank, a hair salon and The Haven (love)). The new construction at the corner of Creighton and Centre has 1000s of empty SF only now ready for lease. The relatively new construction across from Mozart has empty commercial space for lease or own. The currently under construction building at the corner of Lamartine and Centre will also have empty retail. Who knows how long that will sit empty. I hope the developers have some idea of how they plan to fill all that spec retail! At least HiLo has something coming into the space, with a butt-ton of parking there for it already.
The little guys that have come and gone - did you bemoan them? Veloria? Sure, the owner was not the most outgoing of personalities, but he had GREAT coffee. Tacos el Charro seems to be on shaky footing, there is now a sign saying they're closed for all of January when last week it was supposedly just for Christmas and New Year's vacation. The bike shop - they've got a sign up that they're closed until March. How that is survivable rent-wise I have no idea. I hope they do come back. And there is reportedly a knit shop coming to the old Petal and Leaf space next to CVS, bu ttheir latest email says they're not opening until February. Again, how that is survivable rent-wise I don't know, but I also don't know their business plan.
I think Whole Foods is good, especially in light that the Ho-Lo space will be immediately filled and not sit empty while some JPers choose to shake their fists at the sky.
It's over. RIP Hyde Square cultural diversity. Here comes the tidal wave of gentrification.
Robbie, your concerns are well put and I am grateful for your contribution to this dialogue. I think that you are correct in addressing this notion of "progress" within the community. The placement of a WF or TJ's does not indicate progress for the better but further division and gentrification within Jamaica Plain, a community that (in my experience) values diversity and strives to welcome all.
What can we advocate for that can enhance our community as a whole?
Whole Foods will do quite fine as a business without having to make any changes to their current business practices. There will be plenty of consumers, from within and outside JP, ready and willing to purchase items at WH if the unconfirmed reports prove to be true. So the test of waiting to see if WH succeeds isn't really the point. And as a community we can create policies that regulate what kind of businesses can move in. Writing counter points to arguments that pop up on this board isn't really the point.
For me, it's not about Whole Foods or even about Hi-Lo. It's about gentrification, "the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents" [Merriam-Webster]. This isn't the start of the gentrification process in JP - but this is what it looks like. As a white person who hopes to be accountable to people of color I'm incredibly saddened by the tone from my neighbors on these boards. The community that you live in has a wonderful diversity that is threatened by changes like this. I would hope as a community, regardless of race or class, we'd put our heads together and consider what options are available once the full facts are known in this instance – and work together and educate ourselves about gentrification so we can be sure we’re moving towards a future JP that continues to have space in it for non-white, non-middle class residents.
I realize this post won’t resonate with everyone so I’m really not talking to the folks that believe the market will make this right and we should just wait and see. I’m also not talking to the folks that are concerned with the tone in my and other’s messages – words that suggest we might need to organize and push for an outcome rather than it just being a given that the new store will do right by the community that had previously been served. I’m talking to my fellow neighbors who might really like the idea of a WH or similar grocer because it meets their self-interest (I'm in that demographic), but are concerned about how this might impact the Latino & Caribbean communities. Just consider the larger questions about what kind of neighborhood you want to live in – and if the multi-cultural, multi-class aspect of JP is part of why it’s appealing – consider what you’d be willing to do to ensure that continues to be the JP we live in.
Either way, we’ll know the outcome in the next 10-20 years.
Who knew that deciding to shop or not shop at Hi-Lo would determine whether or not you were a member of the "wider" community of JP? That by purchasing produce at Hi-Lo you would:
1) receive the ability to decide how the owners of Hi-Lo transfer their private property. See, because apparently we support local business (meaning that in this case, your parent company's headquarters are located in Newton) until that local business decides to sell their business. At that point, we no longer support you. In fact, we are potentially your adversary.
2) receive the ability to keep 2011 Hi-Lo as a 2011 Hi-Lo equivalent business forever (or until apparently some point in which your "wider" community doesn't want it anymore)...which is interesting considering that 2011 Hi-Lo is something that evolved over time from originally a supermarket that was not Latin-foods focused in origin. (http://www.jphs.org/20thcentury/hi-lo-for-latinos-more-than-a-groce...)
3) be empowered to deem that people who do not shop at Hi-Lo to be "segments" of our community. The least you could do for us "segments" is to let us know which businesses are "wider" and which businesses are "segment." This way I can know which businesses will remain open until the end of time via the "wider" community and which businesses the "wider" community will throw to the wolves of the free market system.
However, I have a suggestion. We could also just let Whole Foods (if that's what's coming) open and people could determine themselves by shopping or not shopping there whether or not that business reflects the needs of the "wider" community. That would seem to be the most accurate way of determining whether or not that business reflects a "segment" or not.
Here's another great person to talk to if you're interested in having a say in this: Valerie Frias, of Councilor Matt O'Malley's office. She's going to be meeting with the major players involved, so speak with her about what YOU want to see, and what your concerns are:
Betsy, is the only thing acceptable to replace Hi-Lo a business that caters to Hi-Lo's former customers?
I don't understand why customers of Hi-Lo get to be the "wider community" and apparently any other customer of any other potential business that were to go into the Hi-Lo space get relegated to "a segment of the community."
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