The embattled Nostrand Avenue Associated Supermarket will return to Crown Heights following the redevelopment of its lot, according to the market’s landlord.
The market, which has occupied the lot since 1970, will get a 21,000-square-foot space in place of its current 16,000-foot space on the ground floor of the planned residential development, according to representatives of the company behind the project, marking the latest twist in the saga surrounding the closure of the neighborhood grocer on Nostrand Avenue near Empire Boulevard.
“We’ve been a proud member of the Crown Heights community for more than fifty years and understand just how important having an affordable, quality supermarket is for the neighborhood,” said President of Midwood Development John Usdan, whose company owns the site. “This project will not only preserve a beloved local grocery store, but also provide [the Associated’s owner Pablo Espinal] with a larger, state-of-the-art space, along with much-needed affordable housing — all in place of a parking lot and obsolete market building.”
The development will replace the 50-year-old grocery building and its oversized surface parking lot with a mixed-income residential building the developer says will contain a number of affordable units. The market will close by July 31 ahead of construction, no timeline is yet available on the construction of the new building or when the supermarket may reopen.
News of the market’s closure this winter prompted fears of a micro-food desert in the largely working-class Caribbean immigrant neighborhood, it also sparked outrage, with a number of protests held outside the supermarket, and one demonstration held outside Usdan’s Manhattan apartment.
Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, Assemblymember Diana Richardson, and Community Board 9 all issued statements in opposition to the demolition of the market, and a petition calling to save the produce purveyor garnered tens of thousands of signatures.
The developer eventually promised that a supermarket would occupy space in the new building, but did not specify whether or not that supermarket would be the Associated.
Soon after, negotiations between the store’s manager and the developer reportedly hit a rough spot, with Espinal rejecting an offer from Midwood that included the right of first offer on a space in the new building and a $300,000 buyout — and being hit with a 30-day notice to vacate.
The landlord even filed a lawsuit against Espinal, claiming the neighborhood campaign to save the half-century-old grocer was merely a “smear campaign” against the developer which caused “millions upon millions of dollars’” in losses in tax benefits and future business deals,” as reported by The City.
A spokesperson for the developer said they are working with Espinal to resolve the lawsuit.
Reached by phone on July 7, Espinal declined to comment further on the arrangement.