Sunnyside Post

Sunnyside NY news

Foodtown on Greenpoint Ave. to close by year end,

By Bill Parry

The Foodtown supermarket at 41-25 Greenpoint Ave. will close by the end of December.

Store manager Ashot Hyusyan said he and the staff were notified of the imminent closing the day before Thanksgiving. “It made for a miserable holiday around here,” he said. “Thirty-plus workers, our customers, our vendors…everyone’s feeling this.”

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said he found out about the closing from emails from constituents. “Losing a job is awful anytime, but during the holidays makes it so much worse,” Van Bramer said. “We’ll do anything we can to help those Sunnysiders who are affected.”

A supervisor from PSK Supermarkets, the company that oversees 13-area Foodtown stores, said that all the employees will be situated at our other stores within the company. He blamed an uncooperative landlord for the situation.

Hyusyan said the store tried everything to keep the market open. “We even offered to buy the building and took him to court; he wouldn’t budge,” he said.

The landlord’s identity is unknown to Hyusyan and the Supervisor from PSK Supermarkets. Two high-profile real estate executives didn’t know who owned the property.

The Vassiliou Group has been linked to the property in listings but denied ownership this past summer.

Van Bramer said his office is investigating.

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97 Responses »

  1. @ Sunnyside Native

    City Ice Pavillion.

    47-32 32nd Pl

    http://www.cityicepavilion.com/

  2. I love sunnysiders. A bunch of idealists building airy castles on someone’s property:)

  3. There may be an uglier side to this dispute than we realize if reports are true that the property owner is a Palestinian and that the proprietors of Foodtown are Jewish. The New York Times or some other daily newspaper should investigate that possibility. I don’t think that any of the Queens weeklies are up to it.

  4. Roxy- I KNEW IT! I knew there was something uglier behind this! I believe it!

  5. Maybe that stretch of Greenpoint Ave should be renamed the Gaza Strip Mall.

  6. wow, palestinian landlord vs jewish store owner! I smell a reality show!!! either that or decades of conflict in Sunnyside

  7. @ roxy But if the foodtown owners are jewish wouldn’t they be saying that the prophet Abraham claimed that god said it was land meant for them.Such is the case with the west bank and gaza.

  8. It’s a terrible shame that this “mystery landlord’ has been allowed to hold this section of the Sunnyside business community hostage for decades now. How
    ironic that the Foodtown property and the “triangle” across the street from it are outside of the local BID district – so nothing has been done about this sad section of empty storefronts and multiple businesses that have tried and failed because the rents are exorbitant.

    Foodtown’s demise should be the last straw. For those of you who live a couple of blocks from Associated, this is no big deal- but this supermarket has been serving the community from the LIE and BQE service road toward 43 Street and doing it well. The staff and management have been long time supporters of our Community – almost like family.

    I’ve spoken with many neighbors who are angry at the landlord and heartbroken about losing Foodtown.

    It may be a “done deal” but I know a lot of folks who want to do some kind of demonstration to find out who this landlord is and most of all to thank the staff at Foodtown for having been an important part of our Sunnyside Community.

    They will be missed…..

  9. If Sunnyside Shines BID can’t do anything about Foodtown or that stretch of Greenpoint Ave, then really what is it good for?

    They hire a pretty, young, female face while a hundred yards away from their office, businesses go down the dumper.

    If you criticize her you get called a sexist.

    Let’s see her keep Foodtown afloat and then I’ll apologize for being such a sexist cad.

  10. Not a fan of the BID. However, this has nothing to do with the BID or the newly hired intelligent cutie. This is between the landlord and the katz family. The current premise is that the landlord is to blame. What about the katz family? The landlord is palestinian? And they have been doing business together for more than 15 years? Foodtown was the last of the big three supermarkets in the area. They ran the most expensive supermarket is sunnyside and must have faced stiff rivalry from associated and keyfood. maybe the current generation cannot run the business like their father.

  11. The Acris System information seems not to transfer so just use block # 00196 and Lot # 0042 and you’ll see the property record.

  12. I just found out today that Foodtown is closing. Makes me sad. Sure, we have Associated and Key Food, but I like Foodtown for certain things and many items that I buy are actually cheaper there. A store employee told me they’re theorizing that the landlord wants them out so he can develop housing over there–they say he also owns the empty businesses across the street. Sounds like the dispute Foodtown was having with the landlord could have been resolved if he really wanted to. Why else have all those empty businesses over there? I for one am going to miss it.

  13. BTW, Sunnyside Post: You need to change your site clock to daylight saving time.

  14. I am dismayed by the anti semetic rhetoric………..why would anyone make joke of the conflict between the arab and jew? Jewish people have suffered from bias for over 4000 years……..my grand father was a holocaust survivor……….i doubt te demise of foodtown is of racial nature……it is economic. Stop the hate

  15. By the way mr o shea……..the term cutie in the context you used it can be construed as sexist……..would you have used that remark if refering to your daughter?

  16. O’shea
    would you use the word “cutie” in such a disparaging manner if refering to your wife or daughter? You read as a nice man but sexism is now thankfully a thing of the past. Woman are now afforded the same rights to opportunity as men. Keep that in mind

  17. BTW, Sunnyside Post: You need to change your site clock to daylight saving time.

    I meant eastern standard time.

  18. To whom it may concern,

    This site aims to keep local issues, “local”. Therefore, global and religious conflicts, and the foreign policies of governments do not belong here.

    There are plenty of other news sites that cater to those topics.

    Thanks.

  19. With all respect to the site moderator, if there is a conflict between Palestinians and Jews in Sunnyside, is it not a local issue? Both groups are physically here and part of the community so how is it not of local interest? That’s like saying the Saint Patrick’s Day parade on Skillman Avenue is of no local interest because it pertains to Ireland.

  20. So the store is closing in two weeks. There are no new shipments coming in, all the meat and vegetables are gone. I live on 39th Street and Greenpoint, so along with everybody west of the store that uses Foodtown since it’s the closest supermarket, our lives just got more difficult. Associated is now the closest market and since their renovation they’ve upped their prices, including charging for plastic bags. I am not happy with the situation. Apparently the same landlord owns the five vacant storefronts across the street as well that have sat empty for years. Not sure what the plan is. Is it possible that they want the whole strip vacant for some large development project? I hope whatever it is they are planning, they already have the financing and we won’t have empty storefronts for years and years. Isn’t there some kind of law that says you can’t have storefronts empty for any long period of time? What’s the city council’s stand on all of this??

  21. West Sunnysider: I agree with your concerns. I live EAST of the Associated market and still shopped at Foodtown, as well as the other supermarkets. With one less supermarket in the neighborhood, the two remaining markets (there’s a Key Food on 46th and Queens Blvd.–which is even further away from you) don’t have as much competition, so they can raise their prices. The closing of Foodtown really does not bode well for the consumer … although I’ll bet the other supermarkets are thrilled. And the businesses surrounding Foodtown will likely suffer too.

  22. I just went to Foodtown to say goodbye to the employees. One of them told me that in addition to this Hammad character being in arrears to the city for $50K, Foodtown offered him $5 million for the building, an offer he refused. They then offered to pay him $40K in rent per year, up from the $27K they’re paying now PLUS a $1.4 million fee to offset any potential looses Hammad might incur by not selling the building. He refused that as well. I was also told that a business across the street offered him $4 million for the build they’re in and he refused them.

    If this is true, there is something very fishing going on here. What does this man want? How much money is enough? Speaking as a property owner who lives only one block away, I’m really starting to get concerned for this neighborhood. What is he planning to do?

  23. As a former employee of Foodtown, PSK Supermarkets, I knew this day was coming. (Mind you, it has been many years since I quit) We all knew, all of the past and current employees knew the day would come that Foodtown will close. For everyone saying “Foodtown closed because of rent, landlord, racial reasoning, etc.”, that is not the case. Foodtown has been suffering financially for years, not just in Sunnyside but in many other areas. Also, if you local Foodtown shoppers, have not noticed, in the past 5 years there have been about 4 different managers, managing the store, now if a red flag does not pop in your head something is wrong, then I do not know what to tell you. Also, after the renovation they did around 07/08 , that caused them a lot of headache and financial lost, because they believed that outcome will be results in sales and revenue, which it did not. Plus, Associated renovated and everyone started to shop there, then within the last year Food Dynasty aka Key Food, renovated (and must I say it has been doing EXCELLENT.)

    Don’t know what else say, hope you guys get the picture.

  24. …sorry I think that rental figure ought to be per month.

  25. Ex-Foodtowner – Are you saying they just weren’t generating enough income?

    I have no inside source, but a comment above stated they were willing to pay $40k/month plus $1.4 mil. Sounds like they are doing quite well and willing to pay a lot extra to keep things running.

  26. What is the landlord up too

    1 will not lease
    2 rejected offers to buy
    3 area was recently rezoned
    4 Sunnyside has been labeled a up and coming neighborhood in the press
    5 owns the block acros the street also mostlyempty
    6 He sees what is happeninh in wburg and other parts of brooklyn that have been gentrified
    7 does not live in the ‘hood

    Could be he is holding out for the best offer from large developer who wants an easy knockdown to build a large condo project

  27. Note I am not defending the landlord but nothing he is doing other than owing back taxs is illegal.
    he doesn’t care about the community that is not a crime

  28. @ woodside guy.
    You are right. That lot has been rezoned R5. This allows the owner to put up a four story multi apartment building. The lot is about 11000sft, theoretically this allows for the creation of 8-10 apartments/ floor. The landlord would face a payoff of $68,000-$76,000/month.
    This is much sweeter Shmoolah than whatever foodtown may have offered.

  29. @O’shea – Let’s say at 10 apartments/floor with 4 floors. Avg rental 2000/month gives him 80,000/month. Only if he is thinking long term will this make sense because you have to account for construction cost. Or he is going to develop the property himself, then he can sell the apartments. If we say avg apt goes for 300k that is 12 mil. (not sure how much it’ll cost to build such a condo). Another option he’ll sell the land to a developer and probably get 5 mil. minus the headache of construction.

    Option 3 – Selling to developer is most likely. If he already owes backtaxes, I doubt he has millions to develop the property. Probably just waiting for all leases to finish up and sell to a developer.

  30. @angray
    I do not see the selling option@ 5 million. 12-13 mill would be a great asking price. That land is pure gold; if you project average yearly rent increase into the calculation. $3340 average rent at sunnyside over the next 7- 10 years is normal.

    REAL reason the foodstore is closings.
    1. Based on sales/square feet, this store averages 112-152K/ week. It Would have to average 396k in sales/ week to meet all its new cost obligations. Not happening:/
    2. You would have to re- rezone the spot?
    3. Any negotiation between landlord and tenant may not have happen in good faith. Tenant must have know property had been rezoned.
    4. Associated and fresh n’ save are better options.

  31. The property owner did owe around $50,000 in back taxes, but he wiped the debt out with tax credits that were due him from other of his properties that were and still are standing empty.

  32. O’shea ….
    I had a feeling you just might be capable of an original thought. Kudos to you. That is a plausible scenario you have outlined. I do take exception to the term “shmoolah” In what context are you applying it?

  33. O’Shea…..
    Given the vitrol of the debate and your previous posts ….the word has negative connotations attached ……

  34. A bit optimistic on 12-13 mil ask. The large church/Salt & Fat/Dunkin Donuts on QB was listed at 6.8 mil in 2009. Not sure what the difference is in lot size.

  35. O’shea nobody has said the landlord’s actions are illegal. However that does not make him any less of a scumbag. Because something is legal does not mean it is right.

  36. @ thomas
    oh well…. never mind.

  37. There is another supermarket in south Sunnyside, on a corner of 47th Avenue and 46th Street. It was recently renovated and has a new name which escapes me at the moment.

  38. In the year 2000, the Jamaica Estates resident was reported as Chief Financial Officer of the Key Foods syndicate. Could he still be connected with it? If so, Key Food runs the recently renovated supermarket on Queens Boulevard at 46th Street. Part of that renovation included a new building above the store with offices and rental apartments. The plot thickens!

  39. @Roxy: the person listed on the Newsmeat contribution list is Nedal Hammad, who is this guy’s brother. I at first incorrectly thought it was the same person. My bad. However, yes, I also noticed that Nedal is the CFO for Key Food as well as an immediate family relation to Jamal Hammad. Interesting coincidence. Now Key Food has one less major competitor on the south side.

  40. I am outraged regarding the news that this store is closing. Personally, it inconveniences me as now my closest supermarket is much farther away from my apartment. Carrying groceries that far is going to be a bitch. I’m not happy about that.

    In regards to the community as a whole, that entire section of Greenpoint Avenue is an eyesore. Many businesses have come and gone. Nothing seems to prosper there. I won’t even honor the political/ethnic argument that others are posing on this comment thread as out of 2 blocks of store fronts only a few businesses have survived the past years. I’m thinking there is some issue with the policies of the landlord and not his ethnic background.

    Someone should do an investigation. There has to be more than meets the eye. I’m tired of my block failing.

  41. Someone above mentioned that the Associated supermarket in Sunnyside charges for plastic bags. Could that be true? I shop there several times a week and have never been charged for plastic bags. In fact, I don’t think that paper bags are an option. The cashiers automatically put my purchases in plastic bags.

  42. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is apparently holding a rally to save Foodtown on Thursday night, Dec. 6: http://jimmyvanbramer.com/.

  43. For goodness’ sake, Roxy, stop with all of the plastic bags! Smart people around the world have stopped using them years ago.Besides the fact that they’re manufactured with such poor quality that two are automatically used for almost every purchase, they are environmentally hurtful. There is a white plastic bag stuck in the tree branches outside of my window- it’s been there over a year. Every time I see it I wonder how we could allow so much garbage to be introduced into our environment on a regular basis. Do folks not think about our future? Whether or not you see the charge for the bag, it’s there. Get a reusable bag and use it; you’ll feel better and our neighborhood will benefit from your actions.

  44. It’s very sad news that Foodtown is going to be closed. The only options left is a Key Food on 46 St, Mets Supermarket on 43 Ave, and Superior Market on QB and 40th St. Associated is not an option at all, despite all the renovations they manage to sell rotten products and refuse to refund for expired groceries an hour after the purchase. So I guess we’ll have to walk a little more to do our food shopping.

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