PARK SLOPE — Residents have launched a campaign to save a Key Food grocery store that could disappear to make way for a mixed-use development on Fifth Avenue and Baltic Street.
An online petition and Facebook page are calling for an "affordable" grocery store to remain at 120 Fifth Ave., where developer Avery Hall Investments hopes to build a housing and commercial project next year.
“When I heard it was going to be developed, my heart just sank,” said Prospect Place resident Anita Bushell, who started the Save The Fifth Avenue Key Food campaign. “We’re not anti-development, but we’re pro affordable food in the North Slope.”
Bushell is a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op, but she shops "religiously" at the Fifth Avenue Key Food because of the store's affordability, size and convenience, she said.
Avery Hall hasn't said yet whether a grocery store will be part of the new development, but a spokeswoman for the developer said Monday the developer “is committed to creating a project that is a benefit to the community as a whole and takes seriously the interest expressed by community members in including a grocery store as part of the project."
The spokeswoman added, "Avery Hall looks forward to consulting with the community about its concerns."
A representative for the store's owner, Pick Quick Foods, Inc., declined to comment.
Avery Hall is still in the early planning stages of the development, but a spokesman for the firm said in November that the project will include some affordable housing units and commercial space. The developer has roots in Park Slope — the firm's founding principal, Brian Ezra, grew up in the neighborhood.
The Fifth Avenue Key Food opened in the early 1980s and helped revitalize the north end of Park Slope, Bushell said. Today the Key Food manages to meet the needs of longtime working class residents as well as wealthier newer arrivals, Bushell said.
With roomy aisles, a sizeable parking lot and 1950s rock 'n' roll on the sound system, the store has the feel of a suburban supermarket.
Residents hope to repeat the success of locals in Windsor Terrace who fought and won a battle to keep a Key Food in their neighborhood.
The possible loss of the Park Slope Key Food comes as Gowanus recently lost a large Pathmark supermarket and a Key Food in Clinton Hill closed in July. “In the closing of all these stores, there's a type of grocery that's disappearing from the landscape that's served Brooklyn for decades,” Bushell said.
In recent years a Fairway has opened in Red Hook and a Whole Foods in Gowanus, but both stores are generally pricier than Key Food, wrote one online commenter. “[The Fifth Avenue Key Food] is the last semi-affordable grocery store in the area with parking," the commenter wrote. "Whole Foods and Fairway are both nice stores but it is not practical to shop for a family of five at these stores every week without spending an insane amount of money."
Organizers with Save The Fifth Avenue Key Food are working with local advocacy group Park Slope Neighbors and hope to gather 1,000 signatures supporting their cause. They plan to present their petitions to elected officials including former Park Slope resident Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery and City Councilman Brad Lander.
Lander recently intervened in another local development controversy and helped convince developer Hidrock Realty to maintain a cinema in the ground floor of the Pavilion movie theater, where Hidrock plans to build residences above and next door.