Saving our supermarket: great news about the 5th Avenue Key Food site
Last year, our community received a real jolt, when we learned that a developer planned to demolish the 5th Avenue Key Food, North Park Slope’s main supermarket, and replace it with mixed-income housing and new retail.
Residents quickly organized, and more than 400 people turned out to make our voice heard loud and clear: we are not anti-development, but we can’t lose the only large, affordable, community supermarket in our neighborhood. After that meeting, I worked with the Fifth Avenue Committee to convene a strong stakeholder coalition of neighborhood organizations, community leaders, and elected officials – and the developer (Avery Hall Investments, or AHI) agreed to negotiate with us.
On Tuesday night, we announced the results of months of negotiations, and I think you’ll agree that it is a big win for our community:
- A large, community-oriented supermarket: AHI agreed to include a 22,000 sq. foot supermarket in their development. That’s a bit smaller (about 25%) than the current Key Food, but almost twice as big as the 7th Avenue Key Food, and plenty big for a full-size supermarket, with wide aisles and a real product mix. AHI also agreed to work with the community to find an operator that’s a good fit for our diverse community, and to offer a 20-year lease.
- More deeply affordable housing: Of the 25% of the units (41 units out of 165), 16 will be set aside for genuinely low-income families (earning no more that 40% of area median income, or AMI, about $36,000 for a family of 4), with the remainder at a mix of 60%, 80%, and 100% of AMI.
- Collaboration on traffic & design: AHI agreed to work with neighbors on traffic safety improvements, offer an opportunity to provide feedback on design, and a process for addressing construction impacts.
You can see a slide show presentation from the meeting here (or read more about it in Bklyner, DNAInfo, or Brooklyn Paper).
This would, quite simply, not have been possible without great community organizing, and a patient commitment to real community planning. Huge thanks go to everyone who worked so hard to secure a better proposal: To Anita Bushell, who moved quickly to launch a petition drive to save a supermarket. To the entire community stakeholder coalition (full list below), which worked tirelessly for months and met (literally) more than 20 times! To the members of the community who joined me on our negotiating committee: Ayana Muhammad, S.J. Avery, Pat Conway, Eric McClure, Mark Caserta, Jay Marcus, and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. To the Fifth Avenue Committee and their executive director Michelle de la Uz for anchoring this organizing work. To Catherine Zinnel in my office and Sabine Aronowsky at FAC for coordinating much of the coalition work. To the Urban Justice Center for providing pro-bono legal assistance. And we also owe real thanks to Avery Hall Investments (and their consultants Geto & de Milly) for listening closely to our concerns and for working patiently with us to address them.
We celebrated a similar success not long ago, when residents came together in Windsor Terrace after the Windsor Terrace Key Foods announced it would be closing. Thanks to our coming together and speaking up, we were able to secure the Windsor Farms market, which opened last year.
When communities organize, we can (at least sometimes) make a real difference.
P.S. This week, we also celebrated the preservation of an even longer-standing Park Slope community institution: the Pavilion movie theater (originally knows as the Sanders, when it was built 100 years ago). Thanks to good community organizing in the South Slope, some community-minded developers and businesspeople, and some good luck, earlier this year we shared the good news that – instead of being replaced by condos – the theater will be renovated to become “Nitehawk Prospect Park.” On Tuesday night, the Nitehawk team threw a party to say goodbye to the Pavilion. They will begin renovations soon, and re-open next year. I have no doubt it will be the best movie theater in Brooklyn.
Key Food Community Stakeholder Group
Convened by Fifth Avenue Committee & NYC Council Member Brad Lander
Forth on Fourth Avenue (FOFA), a committee of the Park Slope Civic Council
Park Slope Neighbors
Park Slope North HDFC
Fifth Avenue BID
Save the Key Food! Advocacy Group
NYCHA Tenant Association Leadership from Gowanus Houses, Wyckoff Gardens, and Warren Street Houses
Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE)
Inquilinos Unidos/Tenants United
Boerum Hill Association
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
NYS Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon
NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
NYC Council Member Stephen Levin
Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs Representative Daniel Abramson
Urban Justice Center (pro-bono legal assistance)