Rally to keep Key Food in Flushing

THE COURIER/Photos by David Beltran

Some Flushing residents have one thing to say to a local landlord: keep our Key Food.

At a rally on Wednesday, February 8, they joined elected officials, including Senator Toby Stavisky, Councilmember James Gennaro and Assemblymembers Michael Simanowitz and Rory Lancman, along with Key Food owner David Mandell to protest plans of replacing the supermarket with a CVS pharmacy.

Lancman, who lives in the area, said this is the supermarket that he and locals go to and replacing with it with a CVS would be an enormous inconvenience.

“I won’t be going to shop at CVS,” said Lancman. “All of our Rite Aid and Eckerd needs are satisfied. The landlord needs to think about what the community needs.”

Mandell and his brother have owned the store at 164-05 69th Avenue since 2004. The current lease with landlord Vita Realty ends in four years, but according to Mandell, the landlord is putting pressure on him to leave soon.

“This morning a woman called me offering $400,000 to leave,” said Mandell. He added that another local owner was willing to throw in an additional $100,000 to the offer.

Mandell, though, said that he wants to stay in the neighborhood and is willing to pay more rent and even remodel the store. However, he added that banks love CVS because it’s a publicly-traded company and having a CVS increases the land value from around $8 million to $10 million.

Residents at the rally expressed concern about changing to a CVS pharmacy, pointing out the number of drug stores already in the area, including a neighborhood pharmacy across the street from Key Food.

“Where are the old people going to shop?” said Pat Medbedeff, a local resident. “There’s Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS — how many drug stores do you need?”

Alex Jacob, who has lived in the area for 60 years, said replacing Key Food with a CVS would inconvenience senior citizens by making them have to walk farther.

“I have nothing to buy at CVS,” said Jacob. “I pack up my cart and buy at least $150 worth of food here once a week. It’s definitely a thorn in our side.”

“There’s a place for big box companies,” said Simanowitz. “This is not the place.”

Gennaro too had a message for the landlord.

“Landlord beware,” he said. “You’ve got to understand what this community is about. They want this supermarket.”

Attempts to reach the landlord were unsuccessful as of press time.

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