After news of the imminent closure of a long-standing Crown Heights supermarket prompted anger and protests, the site’s owner says it plans to open a new supermarket as part a larger, mixed-use development there.
The site, 975 Nostrand Avenue near Sullivan Place and Montgomery Street, has been home to an Associated Supermarket for about 30 years, and before that was the location of an A&P Supermarket.
Last week, the site’s owner, Midwood Investment and Development, told Associated’s management that it would not renew the supermarket’s lease beyond the spring. The news spurred protests from some nearby residents and candidates for local office, who said losing the supermarket would make it harder to access affordable groceries.
Now, in a statement provided to Bklyner, a spokesperson for Midwood said the developer plans to bring a new supermarket to 975 Nostrand Avenue, along with “a significant amount of affordable housing.”
“We’ve been a member of the Crown Heights community since we bought this site in 1970 and brought an A&P to the neighborhood,” said the spokesperson, James Yolles. “We have remained committed to providing a home for a high-quality, affordable grocery store, and have long allowed the Associated Market to pay well below market rent as we determined the future of the property.”
“As we continue to work toward a mutually beneficial arrangement with the market’s ownership,” Yolles’ statement continued, “we look forward to moving ahead with plans for a larger supermarket on the site, along with a significant amount of affordable housing and local job opportunities.”
Yolles said Midwood’s plan for the site long predates last week’s protest, though the developer has not yet filed city demolition or construction permits. He said Midwood is looking to build a mixed-use development with retail space that would include a supermarket larger than the Associated currently there.
The Associated is housed in a single-story building just under 16,000 square feet in size. The lot, about 61,600 square feet in total, also contains a parking lot. The site is currently zoned R7-1, which allows for the construction of mid-rise apartment buildings, along with a commercial overlay.
Details of the housing component, including how many units will be built, remain unclear; Yolles said only that the plan includes mixed-income rentals in accordance with the current zoning, meaning it will not trigger the mandatory affordable housing requirements that often come with rezoning proposals.
He did not provide information about how affordability would be defined, or what rents for the apartments would be.
Midwood also said it had not yet determined whether the Associated would be the tenant at the new supermarket space, or whether a new operator would replace it.
The Associated has been on a month-to-month lease since last summer, when a previous five-year lease expired. Midwood denied earlier reports that it had given the supermarket leadership a 90-day notice to vacate the current space; Yolles said Midwood wants the Associated to vacate the current space in late May, though the exact timing is subject to an ongoing conversation with market ownership.
Pablo Espinal, the Associated’s owner, was not immediately available for comment.
While there are other supermarkets in the area, including a Foodtown on Franklin Avenue and a Western Beef on Empire Boulevard about 3/5ths of a mile away, residents have long feared that development could reduce the number of affordable food options in the neighborhood, which includes a large Black and Caribbean population.
For years, rumors have circulated that the Western Beef could be demolished to make way for a new building. When development does bring new supermarkets, some have complained, their prices are often higher than the discount stores they replaced.
Since it opened in 1991, the Associated at 975 Nostrand Avenue has also been involved in the surrounding neighborhood, recently giving away $100 of free groceries to several customers and hosting a PPE giveaway by local Assembly Member Diana Richardson in the parking lot.
In a statement released shortly after the closure plans became public, Richardson called the supermarket and its workers “neighbors, friends and strong community partners” and said she would “make every effort to ensure this vital business remains in the community.”