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Fancy-free! Slopers ban Whole Foods, Eataly from replacing Key Food

Food swap: Locals are concerned that this Key Foods at Fifth Avenue will go the way of the dodo after Avery Hall Investments redevelops the property. Sources close to the project say a new grocery store will almost certainly take its place, but what form it will take is anyone’s guess.
Photo by Louis Wateridge

They’ve got an appetite for obstruction!

Park Slopers have banned a developer from replacing the Fifth Avenue Key Food with an outlet of upscale grocery chains Whole Foods, Citarella, Balducci’s, Grace’s Marketplace, or Eataly as part of a deal they struck with the builder in exchange for their approval to erect a new apartment building on the site.

High-end emporiums are hungry for a taste of the expensive neighborhood, but many longtime locals can’t actually afford to shop at them and want to ensure their beloved low-cost supermarket is succeeded by another store that fits their budget, according to one resident who was on the negotiating team.

“They’re just things that won’t work in this neighborhood,” said Ayana Muhammad, a property manager at local housing organization Park Slope North Housing Development Fund Corporation. “They come in and they see the high rent prices, but fail to realize there’s a long list of people that have lived here for 20, 30, 40, and some even 50 years.”

After months of discussions, developer Avery Hall Investments has also agreed to allot 22,000 square feet — around half a football field — to a new grocery store on the site at Baltic Street, in a building that will include 165 apartments.

That’s a smaller market than the roughly 30,000-square-foot Key Food currently there, but far more than the 7,500-square-foot space that Avery Hall had originally pitched after it inked a deal to buy the property last year, and most residents at a meeting unveiling the deal on Nov. 1 said they were satisfied with the compromise.

“This feels like a win,” said local Isaac Lief.

Typically, locals wouldn’t get a say in the development, but the land falls under an urban renewal plan, so any changes there will require the city’s sign-off, and residents were able to exploit the arrangement to secure another affordable grocery store, according to one local pol.

“It was clear the city was much less likely to grant them the change to the urban renewal plan unless we reached a good deal around the supermarket,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope).

In addition to blacklisting the aforementioned luxury grocers, the developer has agreed to give locals a say in which markets will be approached to operate the more compact supermarket on the site, and to try to sign the eventual winner onto a 20-year lease.

The operators will be required to set aside at least half of the shopping space for foods that need to be prepared at home, and 30 percent of the retail area must be reserved for perishable goods.

The new development will include 182 subterranean parking spots, although shoppers will likely have to pay to use it, according to local S.J. Avery (no relation to the developer), who was also on the negotiating committee.

Avery Hall is also including 41 below-market-rate units in its development.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Shoppin’ around: Dozens of Park Slope shoppers filed out to PS 133 on Nov. 1 to be among the first to learn about the fate of their beloved Key Food grocery store on Fifth Avenue.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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