It wasn’t the pandemic, for once.
An Astoria Key Food has told the state it will lay off all 151 of its employees and shut its doors this October.
Rather than the coronavirus, a proposed redevelopment of the Queens site led to a breakdown in lease negotiations between Man-Dell Food Stores and landlord Jenel Management.
Jenel reportedly plans to raze the two-story building at 22-15 31st Street and replace it with a three-story structure that features Target on the upper two floors, leaving room for a supermarket below. Michael Hirschhorn, who represents the development for Jenel, did not immediately respond to questions.
Man-Dell chief administrative officer Roseann Marabello-Rivera said that the two sides have been negotiating since 2018, but last spoke “a month ago, maybe a little more” and that negotiations were no longer active.
Jenel said it has finalized a new lease for the ground-floor space with a “major supermarket chain” although it has yet to be signed because of the pandemic, according to NY1.
In the past, Hirschhorn had said he preferred for Key Food to remain, and that architectural plans accommodated a grocer on the ground floor.
“They have been a good tenant for more than 20 years and I want them to stay,” Hirschhorn told the Astoria Post last year. “We came up with a number of layouts, numbers, rate schedules and we were negotiating for two and a half years.”
The Queens Daily Eagle has identified A&H Acquisitions as a development partner on the site. The company could not be reached for comment.
Nearly 100 employees at Key Food Astoria are members of the UFCW Local 1500, according to the Eagle.
“It’s unfortunate how we tell our employees they’re essential workers during the pandemic one day,” said Marabello-Rivera, “and give them unemployment notices the next.”
Contact Orion Jones at [email protected]