The Key for Park Slope to Keep Its Big Grocery Store: Less Parking

The Park Slope Key Food site. Image: Avery Hall Investments via DNAinfo

The notion that New York City housing construction shouldn’t be weighed down by mandatory parking minimums got a combative response from some City Council members at a hearing today. Streetsblog will have a thorough round-up of who said what tomorrow morning. In the meantime, here’s a quick detour to Park Slope for a related story about how parking rules everything around us.

At issue is the redevelopment of a 36,000-square-foot Key Food and adjacent parking lot by Fifth Avenue in north Park Slope. The store sells groceries at affordable prices and is an emblem of the organizing that helped turn around the neighborhood in the 1970s and 80s. Replacing it is a big deal.

In addition to about 400 locals, Council Member Brad Lander, Borough President Eric Adams, and Public Advocate Tish James were on hand for the meeting last night where developer Avery Hall Investments presented its plan, DNAinfo reports. The project would consist of 165 apartments, ground floor retail, a car-free “piazza” between two new buildings — and 182 underground parking spots (the site currently has about 100 surface spaces).

The aspect that has people most up in arms is the smaller size of the replacement grocery store. It would only be 7,500 square feet, about one-fifth the size of the Key Food.

As Stephen Smith pointed out on Twitter, you can swap in a much bigger grocery store if you lose some parking:

Lander says the developer doesn’t want to apply for a waiver to the parking requirements, but some negotiated deal along these lines could be in the cards.

It’s a story that illustrates a terrible tradeoff happening all the time all over the city. In New York, it’s harder to acquire the necessities of life — food, shelter — because the law compels construction of something most New Yorkers don’t need at all — car storage.

  • AlexWithAK

    182 spots for 165 apartments is much higher than the city requires, no?

  • If you put a 36,000 sq ft grocery store underground, you’d have to cut the number of parking spots by 60% at least. I think that would require a waiver, once you factor in the commercial parking requirements in addition to the residential.

  • My reading of the zoning is that it requires about 165 spots for the apartments plus 52K sq ft of retail. So they have to carve out the whole underground level for parking and a few more spaces get tacked on.

  • Angry Park Sloper

    Hey, you can’t cut the parking! I live ear there, and I don’t want residents of 165 new apartments competing with me for scarce street parking. The development must contain maximum parking AND a store AT LEAST as large as the last one. I will accept nothing less! ;^)

  • street_user

    If you can afford a car, you can afford a garage.

  • MatthewEH

    I think you missed the tag in that post. 🙂

  • AlexWithAK

    It’s infuriating that cities that are much less tense and transit rich than NYC have figured out that they can ease parking minimums near transit while we deal with nonsense like this.

  • AlexWithAK

    Ah, the retail. Because OF COURSE the city requires parking for retail, too. And a bunch of council members railed against reducing minimums just yesterday. Unbelievable.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Where are the private cars going to be stored during snow emergencies ?


  • reasonableexplanation

    Well, 100 (about 3-4 blocks worth) cars can be stored here (assuming the 68 new spots will be taken by new residents). Given that the slope is a pretty dense (and trendy) neighborhood, there are several garages not that far away too. However, If I remember correctly, 5th ave has street cleaning in the mornings 6 days a week, so the only thing necessary to clean this street after a storm would be to not suspend alternate side.

    Easy peasey.

  • Eric McClure

    That’s correct, Ben. One spot for every two housing units, plus a like amount based on 52,000 sf of retail. Thank goodness most of the neighborhood was built pre-parking minimums – try to imagine what Park Slope would look like if every 700 sf of retail space required an off-street parking space.

  • another PS architect

    Can they really not provide parking AND adequate retail space if they are required to provide 52k s.f. retail (the existing Key Food is 36k). Does 165 spaces take up the entire footprint? More than one level? Is the choice between an underground supermarket and parking? I would be okay if they provide retail parking for the disabled, as this store actually has a large population of disabled people who come by car. The existing parking lot is never completely filled.
    This part of the North Slope is already being screwed over by the lack of parking at the Barclays Arena. Cars aggressively circle the blocks for hours! Most of the other garages that used to be here have been redeveloped for other uses.

  • Brooklyn Bum

    sure, a 1 million square foot ken foods would work too. but apparently no one knows that supermarkets are in a competitive knock out match. Fairway will likely be staring at bankruptcy in the not too distant future, whole foods and fresh direct are taking all the affluent customers away from neighborhood supermarkets. In WT (after screaming and crying like babies) they made a mini version of its former Key Foods and it is pretty decent – unfortunately it isn’t that busy given so many alternatives. That’s right – Amazon, Fresh Direct, Fairway, Whole Foods – plus WT got a new market in the meantime. Its grocerymageddon if you own a supermarket. But, since its convenient to like 200 people, scream away.


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