ASTORIA – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides on July 27 issued the following statement on the pending short-term closure of Best Market and permanent closures of Key Food, both of which serve the section of Astoria north of the Grand Central Parkway.
“The imminent closure of these two stores will deal a serious blow to northern Astoria, which already doesn’t have access to enough quality, nutritious food. A second wave of COVID-19 is a constant worry, especially the closer we get to the Fall. The long lines to get into grocery stores during the peak this spring might only get longer with the loss of Key Food and temporary closure of Best Market. That’s why I joined with State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas last week to once again ask Key Food’s landlord to offer the grocery store a short-term lease. More than ever Astoria residents deserve close access to food, especially as the demands for more meals at home remains.
“No one should ever go hungry, yet sadly as many as 1 million New Yorkers experienced food insecurity before the COVID-19 crisis. That number has very well doubled since the pandemic. What we’re experiencing in northern Astoria is a microcosm of an issue all across this City. My office is committed to working with the City, our grocery store unions, and our community to make sure western Queens has access to both fulfilling food and jobs.”
Key Food, 22-15 31st Street, recently filed a WARN notice with the New York State Department of Labor that it would soon lay off dozens of employees as part of a planned closure. Landlord Jenel Real Estate plans to demolish the building to make way for a ground-up development anchored by Target. Despite efforts to remain at the location, Key Food has not been offered a deal that would allow it to remain at the building.
Astoria elected officials have long rallied against the Target project, as the developer showed no signs of engaging with the community.
Ramos, Simotas, and Constantinides sent a letter to Jenel last week asking the developer to identify the grocery store it is reportedly talking to to replace Key Food. They echoed an earlier call to offer Key Food a short-term lease for the store to operate until the pandemic opens.
Best Market, located on 37th Street near 20th Avenue, is expected to close in mid-August as it is transformed into a Lidl. While all workers will reportedly be hired back, the renovated grocery store is not expected to open until early next year, according to Patch.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology.
For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.