Only in almost-2016 New York City—the one with astronomical rents kicking an ever-increasing number of tenants out of long-held properties—would a big-old boring but very economical grocery store with a large and abutting parking lot make such news. But that is exactly what has happened to Park Slope Key Food at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Sterling Place, since we learned a month ago that Avery Hall Investments had plans to build an up-scale mixed use structure where cheap groceries and happily-parked cars have resided for the past 33 years.
Public outcry and petitions to save the store followed Avery Hall’s announcement, and local officials stepped in to voice their concern that the developer retain some form of an on-site affordable market—a breed that has been slowly but steadily dying throughout the city—for Park Slope Shoppers. And now, Brooklyn Paper reports, it seems collective demands have, likely, been met.
The source that spoke to the paper remained anonymous but, reportedly, is “close to the project,” and revealed, “[The development is] 99.9 percent certain to have a grocery store.”
Those are pretty good odds. However, an all-but-guaranteed grocery store says nothing about how affordable it will be (as the Paper points out, it’s highly unlikely that, whatever it is, price-points will not compete with Key Food’s current $1.99 boneless chicken breast). And, as the community has reacted to the prospect of losing their go-to market in the past month, it is clear that what they fear losing is not merely this Key Food—a reservoir of open parking spots and cheap nightly groceries in the era of shiny, wind-powered Brooklyn Whole Foods and Fairway—but, on a broader level, the loss of a different kind of Brooklyn, the one with far fewer brittle tower developments, and an affordable standard of living, shopping, and socializing.
While no one ever said it was smart to believe the words that come out of a developer’s mouth, we hope for the sake of our collective morale that this anonymous person’s odds turn out to be true—and that, in a real 2016 miracle, the chicken remains just as cheap.