By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After a “food fight” that lasted more than half a year, the struggle by Windsor Terrace residents for a supermarket in their neighborhood has come to a close.
The controversy started last summer when Sheldon Geller, owner of the former Key Food on Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, decided to retire and made a deal with Walgreens to install a new drugstore in the building.
Late last week, Walgreens announced that it would leave part of the space in the building to – ironically – another Key Food store.
When Walgreens announced a plan for a pharmacy, local organizations objected because there are many senior citizens in the area who find it hard to get to other nearby markets, such as Fairway, or who may not have the technological know-how to engage Fresh Direct.
While local politicians representing the area, such as Assemblyman Jim Brennan and City Councilman Brad Lander, objected, the matter also attracted the attention of Borough President Marty Markowitz – possibly because the B.P. is a Windsor Terrace resident.
A local organization, Green Beans Not Walgreens, led the opposition. At one point, Walgreens offered to install a store on its “Oasis” model, popular in the Midwest.
Kevin Lynch, one of the leaders of Green Beans Not Walgreens, rejected the idea, saying Oasis stores offer “milk, eggs, a small variety of fresh fruit, coffee, cereal, frozen dinners and so on – but little fresh food.”
After the announcement that Key Food would open a full-service grocery store at the site, Markowitz said, “ I couldn’t be more thrilled that Walgreens and Key Food are teaming up to ensure that Windsor Terrace resident ... will have everything from A to Z – from aspirin to zucchini. As someone who lives in Windsor Terrace, I know just how important it is for this location to provide access to fresh, affordable food.
“Walgreens clearly has its fingers on the pulse of the community,” said Markowitz, perhaps making a pun about the huge pharmacy chain.
A spokesperson for Green Beans Not Walgreens said the group is “pleased with the progress made by all parties involved and the plans that have been laid out before us. We remain cautious, as it is obviously still a work in progress, but are very encouraged by the fact that the parties are willing to be mostly open with their plans and are looking to involved the community to shape what takes place.
“Joe, the owner of the new Key Food, who also owns other Key Foods in the metropolitan area, seems extremely down-to-earth and is looking to provide what the community really needs.”