Their pleas did not fall on deaf ears.
Several months ago Flushing residents protested the possible replacement of their local Key Food supermarket by a drug store.
On Monday, May 22, they got their wish: a nine-year lease agreement was reached by the Key Food on 164th Street and 69th Avenue and its landlord, Vita Realty.
There was much controversy in February in the neighborhood over the possible replacement of the supermarket with a CVS. Many residents opposed the change. The area has several pharmacies, including one across the street from the supermarket.
The previous lease on the market would have expired in four years, but store owner David Mandell felt pressured to leave the property.
“A woman called me offering me $400,000 to leave,” Mandell said. He added later that another local owner was willing to throw in an additional $100,000 to the offer.
Resistance to the new CVS came mainly with the welfare of elderly residents in mind.
“Where are the old people going to shop,” asked Pat Medbedeff, a local resident. “There’s Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS – how many drug stores do you need?”
Now, it seems the neighborhood has a new lease on life.
“I commend both parties for being able to come to an arrangement that is beneficial not only for them, but for this neighborhood,” said Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz. “If not for the active nature of this community, there is no doubt Key Food would have been lost when its lease expired in a few years.”
Residents and employees alike were delighted to hear the good news.
“[The new lease] means a great deal to me,” said Paul Piagneri, a Key Food employee. “It means I get to serve the neighborhood like I have been for the last eight years.”
Tom Henderson, who has been living in the area for almost 40 years, was glad to hear that seniors would not be inconvenienced by a change in businesses.
“The welfare of seniors has got to be a main concern,” said Henderson.