ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Some residents of Albany’s South End consider the McDonald’s on South Pearl Street and Madison Avenue a staple in their community.
James Badu owns a barbershop across the street from the restaurant, and he also does landscaping on the McDonald’s property. He says hearing of the closure seems to fit a pattern with businesses in the South End recently.
“Rite Aid is gone, [Department of] Motor Vehicles is gone, Lombardo’s is gone, now McDonald’s is leaving,” Badu told NEWS10 ABC. “You wonder what’s going to happen to the South End.”
The store is closing mid-December, according to Derek Johnson, Common Council Member for the 2nd Ward.
Johnson says that while the service at the fast-food restaurant could be better, he doesn’t think it warrants total closure.
“This McDonald’s used to be located on State Street,” he said. “And they moved it down here, and now it seems like it’s not a good fit for down here.”
It’s unclear exactly why the store is closing. In a statement to NEWS10, a spokesperson for McDonald’s says:
McDonald’s reviews its restaurant portfolio on a regular basis to make the best decisions for our business moving forward. Closing a restaurant is a difficult decision in any town but we look forward to continuing to serve our customers at our other McDonald’s restaurants in the neighboring communities.Anne Christiansen, Field Brand Reputation Director, McDonald’s USA
Johnson is afraid that the store will close and a plan to replace it with something else won’t materialize.
“I just would like to see a business where there’s opportunities for the youth in our community, to have someplace that they can go and work that’s not far because transportation is a big issue,” he said.
Mae Tune, a South End resident, hopes the community will have a say in what replaces the McDonald’s.
“If the McDonald’s is going to leave, what’s next?” she wondered. “I feel that the people in the inner city should have a voice in what’s going to be next here for us.”
Albany neighborhood organization A Block at a Time agrees, telling NEWS10 in a statement:
While this is an unfortunate loss, it also presents a unique opportunity to reclaim this space while promoting community led development. Business and government partners must authentically engage neighbors in planning and assist in identifying sustainable funding. Access to locally grown and affordable food and community gardens should be considered.A Block at a Time
The Albany Housing Authority did not return NEWS10’s request for comment on Friday.
Brian Shea, spokesperson for Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s office, told NEWS10 that the housing authority, the city, and other partners will be working together to map a future for the space.