It was standing-room only with residents spilling out of the door at the community room in Ryerson Towers Tuesday night.
They were gathered for a town hall discussion on the closing of the local Key Foods grocery store, located at 325 Lafayette Avenue in Clinton Hill.
As reported by Crain’s New York last Wednesday, Key Food’s property owners have decided to partner with developers Slate Property Group to erect an eight-story, 110-unit, ground-up rental development on the site of the grocery store.
As one of the few, quality grocery establishments in the area, local residents were not happy, to say the least.
Attending the meeting were NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, who lives right across the street from the grocery store; City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, a representative from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’s office and Rev. Anthony L. Trufant of Emmanuel Baptist Church.
The store’s landlord and owner of Dan’s Supreme Supermarkets, Richard Grobman is in partnership with the developer. The Key Food is scheduled to shut down for construction sometime in April, and the area will be under construction for the next two years.
According to Grobman, the plans are to erect a mixed use building with high-rise apartments above, underground parking, and a retail space that will potentially include a doctor’s office and another grocery store. However, nothing is certain, said Grobman. He hopes to bring the grocery back, but if one does return, there’s a chance it will not be a Key Food.
Residents from Ryerson Towers, Clinton Hill Co-ops, Lafayette Gardens and the outlining streets of Grand, Clifton Place and Classon Ave were packed inside the small community room, concerned not only about the loss of shopping convenience, but also how the construction will impact the quality of life of so many residents, many of whom are elderly.
“The concern in the community is the construction,” said Gia Morón, a resident of Ryerson Towers, which is located right next to Key Food. “They’re going to be digging underground to build the parking lot. So once they break ground, there could be serious road issues. It’s going to affect the transportation and the noise issue is going to be huge.”
One resident at the meeting mentioned that his elderly mother, who is wheelchair-bound, goes to Key Food, versus the groceries a few blocks away on Myrtle and on Dekalb avenues because the aisles are wider at Key Food and it’s much bigger.
“The landlord either didn’t take any of these issues into consideration or doesn’t care,” said Morón, a Clinton Hill resident for 20 years.
James said a bigger town hall meeting is planned for April at Emmanuel Baptist Church to provide local residents an update on plans for the property.
“The fact is, this is a deal that can’t be stopped, because it’s a private property and at this point, they don’t owe the community anything unless they want to,” she said. “I think it’s unfortunate [the landlords feel] that they don’t owe the community any feedback.”