They want to know what’s in store!
Park Slopers are scratching their heads after months of silence from the developer that last year filed plans to replace the Fifth Avenue Key Food with a two-building, mixed-use complex that will contain a similarly inexpensive grocery store.
Bigwigs at builder Avery Hall in October 2017 submitted plans for its two-tower project, which includes a 73-foot-tall structure at the corner of Baltic Street, a smaller 44-unit building near Sterling Place atop what is now Key Food’s parking lot, and a public courtyard between the two.
And now, some locals — including those community members who got Avery Hall to agree to include an affordable grocer in exchange for demolishing the current supermarket — are wondering when construction will begin and Key Food’s days at the site will end.
“We were expecting a ground-breaking in 2018,” said Ayana Muhammad, a local real-estate broker who served on the group that negotiated with Avery Hall after it purchased the development site in 2015. “They had done preliminary ground testing and stuff, but after that, there was nothing. So, we’re in the dark as to what’s going on.”
The residents aren’t the only ones clamoring for construction updates — Key Food staffers are also still anxiously awaiting to hear when their meal tickets will be up, according to a manager of the Fifth Avenue outpost.
“We have never been given a closing date,” said the manager, who refused to provide her name. “We’re kind of waiting for information from the person who bought the property.”
But Avery Hall honchos expect to break ground “soon,” according to company spokeswoman Maya Kremen, who said the firm is still obtaining all necessary permits from the city, and could not provide a more specific date when construction will begin.
“We intend to commence construction as soon as is practical after we get approvals,” Kremen said.
The deal the developer struck with the locals to win their support for its project requires the complex include a grocery store run by operators on a pre-approved list that excludes pricier brands such as Eataly and Whole Foods.
And in exchange, community members gave their okay for Avery Hall to build a complex slightly higher than the lot’s zoning regulations allow. The two buildings will include some 164 apartments between them — 41 of which will be below-market-rate — and must still be signed off on by the city.
It’s unclear exactly what additional permits the developer is waiting on, after officials in September approved a round of key applications that included new-building, plumbing, and excavation permits, according to records, which do not show any approved permits for demolition work at the site.
Avery Hall reps are contractually required to provide updates to the community group it previously negotiated with, including advance notice of demolition and construction work, according to Kremen, who said the developer will continue to keep locals informed.
“We have been in communication with the coordinator for the group to advise him on the progress of the city approvals for the project,” she said. “Avery Hall will continue to adhere to the agreement and looks forward to meeting with community stakeholders prior to breaking ground.”